It can be challenging for teams to plan, execute, and track all the projects they have going on without running into problems. Whether it's schedule conflicts, a lengthy approval process, or decision-making issues, many projects soon face challenges that test the ability of stakeholders and team members to work together to achieve business goals.
Efficient workflow management helps reduce these challenges by structuring how business processes and projects are completed. Workflow management facilitates a process for accomplishing tasks to support team members in fulfilling their roles and reduce confusion, waste, and risk that often occur in disorganized projects.
This article discusses all you need to know about workflow management. We'll discuss the meaning, benefits, and workflow management tools that help create automated workflows and optimize existing business workflows.
What Is Workflow Management?
Before defining workflow management, let's clarify what a workflow is. A workflow is a series of steps and tasks required to complete a business process or project.
Hence, workflow management is the process of organizing different workflows to produce desired results as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The workflow management process includes planning, assigning, tracking, and improving workflows to meet your predetermined goals.
You can think of workflow management as an aspect of business process management (BPM) that’s focused on workflows. Automated processes help ensure that projects are delivered properly with reduced chances of human errors and mistakes. This is particularly useful when documents are sent back and forth between parties requiring several follow-ups, e.g., during employee onboarding.
What Is a Workflow Management System?
A workflow management system is a software system or tool that allows you to create and track a sequence of tasks. Workflow management relies on automation to handle manual processes and eliminate bottlenecks.
These systems provide infrastructure to map out tasks, track their progress, and gather insights using customizable dashboards to show the most important metrics and KPIs of the different projects and processes. The best workflow management systems provide templates to handle recurring operations and communications, access control with tiered levels of permissions for different types of business users, and task management functionalities, including the ability to develop and connect custom workflows and a centralized space for document management and collaboration with external parties.
Workflow management software is typically easy to use with interactive drag-and-drop interfaces to enable teams without technical expertise to create solutions and streamline their workflows to achieve optimal results.
Benefits of Using Workflow Management Software
In addition to eliminating manual work and repetitive processes, following workflow processes keep teams synchronized and collaborating effectively. Here are a few other ways workflow software contributes to workplace productivity:
- Streamlines project management: Workflow project management tools take tasks like managing resources, standardizing work processes, and handling administrative tasks off your hands so you can direct your resources towards more impactful processes. You can plan and prioritize tasks with dependencies to ensure projects are delivered successfully.
- Facilitates client collaboration: Workflow systems give clients specific access to parts of a project so they can check project status, grant approvals, and monitor progress. This saves time otherwise spent collecting and sharing information on the project's progress. Ensure you schedule timely approval workflows to avoid delayed projects.
- Fewer status update meetings: A workflow management system saves teams from needing to track down emails and take team members’ time to assess and communicate about a project's progress. Instead, your teams remain updated on each project's progress — saving time and effort, and ensuring transparency throughout a project.
- Scheduled reports: Using workflow management software helps teams retrieve and access timely reports easily. They no longer need to input data in spreadsheets to develop reports. Instead, workflow software has automatic configurations to extract and submit data to be analyzed into insightful results.
- Increased visibility: Setting business rules and routing specific data and information to different levels of business users creates an environment for smooth project execution. Workflow management tools offer real-time visibility into project status and version history. This helps team members stay aware of any project developments.
- Automated notifications: Workflow tools include notifications to alert your teams about any overdue task, process, or deadline that requires attention. You get the ability to customize your notification alerts to produce the best results for your teams.
- Third-party integrations: Businesses today use many work applications to manage their business. This creates a unique technology stack that facilitates their processes. Workflow management tools provide third-party integrations to connect these tools and derive value from combined features without switching back and forth between multiple apps.
What Workflow Management Solutions Are Available?
There are many available workflow management solutions. Finding the right one for you means narrowing down the best fit for your organization’s needs, size, and level of tech-savviness. Some tools require employee training sessions before they are fully adopted, and others are good to go from the start.
Consider the amount of customization you may require from your workflow solutions. Go through review websites, compare SaaS solutions, and find use cases similar to yours to ensure you settle on the best software for your needs.
Small businesses may benefit more from no-code/low-code workflow management tools so they can launch and manage more operational functionalities even with a small IT team. Some workflow management systems also double as project management tools. Ensure you prioritize the most critical needs for your teams before you start testing solutions.
A Few Workflow Management Tips
Once you have a workflow management solution that fits your organization’s needs, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Begin by writing down and visualizing your workflow processes. Start simple and add in details as they become clearer. Answer questions like who, how, and when tasks are to be completed and how to know when a project is done.
- Consider relationships when developing your plan. Note the critical paths and dependencies involved in your projects, and plan around them to ensure a successful outcome. Consider dependencies between tasks and the team members completing them and avoid schedule conflicts by confirming team members’ availability before assigning them tasks.
- After creating your workflow plan, think about all the things that can go wrong and how you’ll respond to them. Change management and risk mitigation are always good practices to keep your teams prepared when things go wrong.
- Keep improving your workflows even when they are up and running. Take the time to conduct audits and gather feedback about the process so you can improve your workflow and thus, team efficiency and output.
Begin Better Workflow Management With Pulpstream
Pulpstream allows you to automate your workflow using pre-built workflow solutions that contribute to an increase in your team’s performance and productivity. You can customize your workspace and prioritize your tasks according to your organization’s goals.
Pulpstream’s workflow management software helps to provide complete transparency at each workflow stage. You can set automatically generated reports on a schedule and visualize tasks using Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and other tools.
Are you ready to gain control over your organization’s workflows and business process management? Request a demo of Pulpstream and get started with a two-week free trial.