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What Is Workflow Management: A Beginner’s Guide

In complex organizations with a lot of moving parts and projects, workflow management is one of the most important disciplines to learn and master. However, new business owners, executives, and managers often don’t fully understand workflow management, its importance, or the tools they need to practice it.

This article will discuss workflow management, its challenges and benefits, and the tools and practices you can use to ensure your workflow management processes are as efficient as possible.

Read on or skip ahead:

What is workflow management?

Workflow management is the organization and coordination of tasks, people, and resources to achieve a specific outcome or meet a specific goal. It is all about managing “workflows,” which are key components of most modern business operations, particularly those based around software development (but also in other industries).

Through good workplace management, you can improve and optimize workflows, as well as automate workflow operations to reduce errors, increase productivity, and minimize the hours needed for repetitive tasks.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is a schedule or series of steps needed to complete a task or project. Workflows can include people, machines, systems, resources, and even plans. Workflows are typically overseen by workflow managers or administrators, whose primary duties involve improving visibility into the workflow and eliminating bottlenecks (areas where resources and people clash negatively to slow progress).

Why is workflow management important?

Put simply, workflow management is important because most organizations rely on efficient workflows to get all their work done on time.

Through strong workflow management, your organization will see improvements and benefits such as:

  • Better results with your workflow projects and output
  • Reduced errors, meaning you have to spend less time fixing problems or redoing work that was already completed
  • Better efficiency and productivity; you can have the same number of people do more work or produce better quality work in the same amount of time with good workflow management

All of these benefits, in turn, lead to practical business boosts such as better cost-efficiency, fewer wasted dollars, and improved brand reputation.

What are the challenges of workflow management?

Although workflow management can help improve business operations in many ways, there are some challenges you’ll have to overcome to practice it successfully.

For example, some teams use different types of software or tools to practice workflow management, which can make combining data or resources difficult, if not impossible.

Additionally, workflow management can be tough if everyone on the team is not on the same page regarding deliverables, schedules, etc. Good workflow management, therefore, is contingent on having a good workflow administrator or leader. This person can marshal everyone under their command and ensure everyone does what’s needed to meet specific goals and objectives.

What are workflow management best practices?

The best way to maximize workflow management is to operate under a few best practices.

Firstly, spend plenty of time prioritizing and setting the right goals. By prioritizing goals from most important to least important, you’ll complete the most vital work first, then move on to lesser objectives. This is a key part of good resource allocation and prioritization.

Next, be sure to create and document all of your current workflows so you can analyze them. Your organization likely already has some workflows that it uses for common tasks or projects. By examining your existing workflows, you can determine which are most efficient and worth keeping and which ones you should throw out.

Then you should consider each workflow team’s requirements for automation. Workflow automation can help eliminate busywork and free up extra labor hours that you can use to better your organization and accomplish more work. By considering automation requirements, you can apply different tools or automation solutions to each team or workflow as needed and maximize productivity. 

What are examples of workflow management?

Let’s take a closer look at some workflow management examples so you can see how it directly affects business productivity.

Examples of good workflow management

Imagine a scenario where an HR team has to onboard a new employee. They use a workflow to manage all of their tasks and ensure appropriate onboarding resources are provided to the new employee at each step of the process.

With good workflow management:

  • The HR team members all see what they need to do and what tasks they are individually assigned.
  • Each team member progresses through their tasks and the workflow is automatically updated when they input their progress on a shared app.
  • The workflow enables the team leader to track the progress of the new employee’s onboarding and provide additional support when necessary.
  • Once complete, the workflow is kept or modified based on what worked and what didn’t.

Examples of bad workflow management

Imagine the same scenario as before, but with bad workflow management:

  • The HR team sends the same information to the new employee multiple times since team members don’t communicate with each other or don’t know what they’re supposed to do individually.
  • The workflow isn’t updated, so no one is quite sure where the new employee is in the onboarding process.
  • The workflow isn’t reviewed and optimized, so the same problem happens in the future, and most new employees at the organization leave after six months due to a bad first impression.

What is workflow management software?

Workflow management software is any tool that provides workflow support. It typically has a dashboard through which managers can see currently active workflows, assign team members and resources, and handle other workflow tasks without having to open up additional software apps. 

Why use it?

The primary reason to use workflow management software is to improve productivity and simplify workflow visibility and management. With excellent workflow management software, such as Process Street, you’ll have greater control and command over your active workflows and be able to modify, optimize, and apply them more readily to existing teams or future projects.

Benefits of workflow management software

When you use the best workflow management software, you’ll see benefits such as:

  • Bolstered productivity, as your team will be able to get through workflows more quickly
  • Better flexibility since you’ll be able to update workflows in a single click, update project processes and tasks, and improve workflows all from the same screen
  • Improved accountability since workflow tools let your team see whatever they need to do and allow managers to see the progress the team makes in real-time
  • Fewer errors, and therefore a better brand reputation. Workflow management software helps you and your team complete workflow objectives without making as many mistakes.
  • Streamlined processes as good workflow management software can integrate with existing business tools, making the flow of projects and tasks smooth. Integrations can also provide additional data you can use to optimize your workflows further. For example, competitive intelligence software Visualping can help identify competitor strategies, allowing you to adjust your own strategy (and workflows) accordingly.

Wrapping up: Why you should invest in workflow management

Workflow management is an important part of managing business workflows efficiently, especially if you have a lot of employees or complex projects to tackle. Thanks to new software tools and best practices, succeeding with workflow management is easier than ever, even if you’re a beginner to this process.

Process Street can help your organization with workflow management from the beginning. Our comprehensive, robust software solution can replace grunt work with automated workflows that require no coding expertise on your part. Try it today!

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