The latest techno buzz words doing the rounds are workflow processes and workflow software. What are they and who uses them? As the name implies workflow programmes are designed to increase the productivity and efficiency of an individual computer or a computerised network. This software can be used by anyone looking to maximise their output, especially where they have processes that are repetitive and require the same handling procedures.
Workflow software allows for multitasking of automated routines and subroutines such as with data entry and email filtering amongst other tasks. If you have created a filter for spam or any other requirement in your email, you have in fact activated a preinstalled workflow process. As more productive traffic is being generated online through purchasing, bookings, enquiries, and various business related activities workflow processes are highly beneficial to small and big business. Routine tasks are renowned for producing errors when handled by people, due to the human element. The need for a human chain gang is being replaced by greater and more cost effective efficiency.
It’s now long been accepted that computers have not saved us time to have more leisure, rather technology has allowed us to do more work in the time we have. Whether you have an automated bottling plant or a community advertising magazine, workflow software will allow you to do more. Other common tasks that are suited to workflow processes are: order processing; order tracking; complaints management; etc. In an office environment a lot of resources can be saved such as file conversion to pdf instead of printing email and faxes; particular documents can be automatically attached to outgoing bulk emails; and even adding the recipient addresses can all take place automatically in a fraction of the time that it takes a person to do it.
It is important to note that workflow software does not create business processes. However, in creating a workflow process you get to interrogate the details of procedures and requirements within your operation. Workflow has been described as answering the questions of ‘What? Who? and When?’ in a business process. Once these questions have been thoroughly addressed you are now ready to have the techno gurus convert it into programming instructions.
The next step of workflow programmes is to create a high level of interdependency between multiple programmes and systems, where work is streamed from one integrated system to another. We currently witness this on a small scale if we take the example of spam mail that is being sent out from one system as a maximisation of that workflow, and is automatically identified and filed into the spam folder of your mailing system, which is the maximisation of workflow as per your mail content parameters. Of course the workflow needs to be purpose-driven constructively in alignment with company objectives. Essentially, workflow software developed and applied systematically within a particular workplace will enhance the efficiency of the networks, individuals and organization; and ultimately the overall output.