What is a workflow, anyway?
A workflow encompasses a pattern or series of tasks within an organizational process, while processes form the defined aspects of the connected sequence of activities that make up a workflow. Simple, right? Don’t worry, the idea that workflow encompasses processes and vice versa can initially be challenging to grasp!
Think of it this way: Workflows can be considered as the parts of a whole in a network of process tasks. Each step in any process contributes to the overall executable workflow, while the end-to-end list of tasks and processes define the overall workflow. Essentially, workflows are business processes in action. Therefore, in the same way that we optimize processes for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, workflow optimization seeks to achieve the same thing systematically.
Using process models for workflow optimization
Workflows unify information systems to help complete tasks, thereby organizing and aligning process automation and execution. So, once you have optimized your business processes, automating them in a cloud-based workflow management system contributes to increased success.
A good workflow tool uses your process models as instructions to coordinate the activities within the functional roadmap of your organization’s overall process landscape. This may include tasks and procedural steps for individuals, departments, or organizations, descriptions of necessary inputs and possible outputs, or the overall goal of a process.
When your process models are incorporated into a workflow, employees can better manage process execution, and gain increased visibility from workflow reporting features. This improved coordination can help with reporting process performance and further process optimization, as well.
Benefits of workflow optimization
Spending time to better understand and optimize your workflows brings a range of benefits, including in the following areas:
- Task automation – Save time on coordination efforts
- Process efficiency – Improved task completion rates with automatic notifications to participants
- Visibility – Increased productivity transparency allows for informed workflow management
- Process adoption – Standardized repetition of processes equates to consistent output quality
- Reduced risk – Predefined guidelines help to minimize human error and other risks
- Teamwork(flow) – Clear communication and project assignments of tasks and responsibilities
Characteristics of effective workflow tools
A workflow is a multifaceted set of interactions, all managed within an automation tool. A workflow engine is the “intelligent” execution system that determines whether a process is ready to move forward. Workflow optimization can also be applied to a range of different tasks, even manual tasks that take place outside the workflow system. In these cases, the system can notify the relevant people, and completion of the task can be confirmed directly in the system.
For computerized tasks, a workflow system displays all relevant information so the stakeholders can work on the task directly within the system. A strong workflow system can even integrate with other related systems and automate events in the process sequence. Process automation and improved coordination with workflow not only saves time and money, but also improves the quality of the process results.
The important features in a good workflow optimization tool offer multiple task options to help coordinate processes in your organization. Visibility of the status of these tasks can help to improve overall productivity. For example, it is easy to see the progress of a project, and who is currently working on completing the next task. A good workflow tool will also offer reporting that can help evaluate the performance of a process, based on key figures like cycle times, response times, frequencies of alternative paths, or other data.
Workflow optimization with Signavio
A good workflow tool should be characterized by a clean and consistent structure, an efficient and cost-effective implementation, and a versatile design that supports each individual workers’ ability to complete a process. The SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite includes just such a tool: SAP Signavio Process Governance.
SAP Signavio Process Governance is a powerful executable workflow platform that can take on even the most intimidating end-to-end processes. Unlike other suites, Signavio’s cloud-based software is targeted at business users who want to perform intuitive and professional automation of personalized processes.
Since it’s designed to be collaborative and transparent, SAP Signavio Process Governance allows you to leverage the knowledge of the crowd by inviting all your employees to contribute. It’s the simplest and fastest way to capture, connect, and communicate how work is done. The result? A high level of consistency and efficiency throughout your company. To find out more, sign up for a free 30-day trial with SAP Signavio, today.