Business processes are made up of workflows, and workflows are made up of various activities, people, systems, and technology to power them. Because of these many moving parts, workflow management is key to continuous improvement.
A workflow management solution or system helps businesses continuously improve internal processes, reduce costs, and deliver an exceptional customer experience. Below we’ll break down what workflow management is, the benefits of implementing a workflow management system, and the # workflow management capabilities to look for in a management system.
What is workflow management?
Workflow management is the identification, organization, coordination, and automation of a particular set of tasks to produce a specific outcome or output. The goal of workflow management is optimizing, improving, and automating workflows wherever possible to increase output, eliminate repetition, and reduce errors.
Definitive Guide to Workflow ManagementDownload now
What is a workflow management system?
A workflow management system is a business process management (BPM) tool that makes it easier to stay on top of organizing and optimizing workflows and provides the proper framework for setting up improvements and identifying bottlenecks that need to be resolved.
Management system features provide administrators with analytics capabilities used to measure progress toward goals and to determine whether or not modifications to workflows resulted in noticeable differences in time or cost.
Why you need a workflow management software
Workflow management software is part of a larger business process management (BPM) strategy. This software solution operationalizes and automates routine business processes to help teams be more efficient. When implemented properly, this tool gives teams the ability to track, coordinate, and edit workflow tasks to fit the needs of various departments in an organization.
Automated workflows increase productivity by decreasing the time and effort associated with processes that require a lot of repetitive or manual work. The added advantages of automating workflows with a workflow management system include:
- Reminders to finish uncompleted tasks.
- Visibility into performance metrics.
- Reduced project risk and timeline delays.
- Automated repetitive functions so staff can focus on creativity and innovation.
- More realistic timeline estimates for future planning.
- Explicit audit trails when something goes wrong.
- More equal delegation of responsibilities.
10 essential workflow management system capabilities
In order to reap the benefits of a workflow management system, you need a tool that is easy to use and empowers teams to take a first-hand role in the creation and optimization of workflows. Below are 10 management system features to look for when choosing a management system:
1. Visual user interface to quickly scale and easily implement solutions
If employees are already having a hard time managing workflows, implementing a tool that’s difficult to maneuver or requires extensive coding or development knowledge will only make their experience worse.
Opt for a workflow management system that’s intuitive, easy to use, and requires little to no coding experience, like a low-code automation platform, to easily design applications and quickly launch complex, scalable, automated workflows without writing a single line of code.
2. Automation capabilities and conditional logic
Automating routine or repetitive tasks — like status updates, approvals, emails, or work handoffs — frees up time for employees to focus on other pressing projects. Standardized and automated processes make timelines more precise and curb the need to redo work down the line.
And with if-this-then-that conditional logic, admins can configure a set of pre-defined rules for a range of potential issues. Whenever a workflow hits a snag, the software will already know what to do to fix it. For example, in a vendor-payment workflow, the software could discern that an invoice was missing a PO number and send the vendor a pre-written email explaining how to find the PO and upload a new version of the bill.
3. Easy integration with other software for stack extensibility
If automations help streamline communication, then integrations help streamline connections. Software that easily integrates with your existing software helps create seamless connections that eliminate rework and provide visibility into workflows.
Look for one that integrates with your existing ERP, CRM, calendar, and other document management systems in real-time. Though some workflows may only have one or two steps dedicated to moving data from one system to another, those steps should take place quickly and successfully to keep things moving along. Integrating with your workflow management system should be straightforward and shouldn’t require continuous maintenance. Learn more about stack extensibility.
4. IT-approved security features
To keep your information (and potentially your customers’ information) safe, also be on the lookout for enhanced cloud security, compliance, and user/guest permissions that promote workflow security. By establishing permission levels and choosing who gets access avoids data breaches and protects sensitive HR, payroll, and financial data.
Low-code Automation: Good for Business, Great for ITDownload the report
5. Built-in audit trails for workflow visibility
One of the main challenges that can affect workflows is a lack of transparency or visibility. Look for a system with built-in audit trails for a full-access view of your workflows to better identify what’s working, what’s not working, and how existing resources can be rearranged to create more efficient workflows.
6. Mobile notifications
Choose a platform that notifies employees of the most urgent issues right in the app, via email, or text.
7. Status indicators
Status indicators are an excellent way to stay on top of each one. A status dashboard helps users prioritize their tasks, spot any issues, and follow up on things they may have forgotten about. A dashboard should present statuses in a clear manner for everyone involved in each workflow. Many automated workflows use color-coding to distinguish serious issues from trivial ones.
8. Deadlines and alerts
Keep workflows running smoothly and without delays with automated deadline alerts. This improves time management by defining alerts and triggering automated actions based on three status categories: overdue, late, and expired.
9. KPI-based dashboards and reports
A powerful workflow management system will shine a light on any bottlenecks, recurring points of breakdown, and jobs taking longer than usual. Tailoring dashboards to your specific KPIs may provide insight into workflows that may be unnecessary, or ones that might be missing.
In addition to high-level metrics, they can supply details such as when tasks are completed, who completed them, and any useful modifications made to speed up a process.
10. Different ways to visualize workflows
Whether you prefer a kanban, list, or calendar view, choosing a solution that displays your workflows in myriad ways helps bring a new perspective to workflow management.
Manage and automate your workflows with Pipefy
Automated workflows can transform an organization’s operations. Design efficient end-to-end workflows with Pipefy, and you won’t have to toggle between tools or worry about losing information along the way. Build smart automation rules, connect tools and departments, and let your team focus on strategic actions — all from a single place. Centralize and streamline your workflows by automating manual tasks, connecting processes, and creating standards on Pipefy’s no-code platform.
Pipefy makes it easy to integrate, automate, and boost your operational efficiency with all types of business processes including HR, Finance, Marketing, and CS, among others.