What is ‘Workflow’ and Why Should I Care?

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Ask five people to describe what ‘workflow’ means and you’ll get ten different answers, that’s the nature of this little word with the big reputation. Even Wikipedia defines it in gloriously ambiguous language (‘…an orchestrated and repeatable pattern of business activity enabled by the systematic organization of resources into processes…’).

There’s an unfortunate tendency to over-complicate the idea of workflow when in reality the key to understanding it is right there in the name – it’s the flow of work.

Imagine your business processes as a sequence of pipes, with various branches along the way. If you pour water in at the top, it will flow to the bottom. The route it takes is determined by how you designed the pipes.

Bringing this idea back to the real world, when we talk about workflow we’re really just talking about the steps you, as a business, have to take to allow your business process to flow from start to finish. These steps will be governed by your internal business rules (‘every complaint must be reviewed by a supervisor’), external compliance rules (‘when a complaint is received, an acknowledgement letter must be sent’) and decision branches along the way (‘if the complaint has a severity of more than 3 then refer to a manager’).

Documenting and enforcing these rules is incredibly important as it is the key to improving efficiency, ensuring consistency and increasing the number of your processes that achieve the desired outcome.

The real gains come when you implement a software solution that can enforce these rules for you and, even better, automate some (or most) of the manual steps.

The most powerful workflow solutions will send tasks to users to ensure each process is with the right person at the right time. They will be capable of automatically creating documents, sending emails and executing complex rules on your behalf. On top of this, they will be flexible enough to allow these rules to change as your business evolves.

With LEAP, not only can we do all of this and more, but we can also cater for all the ‘what-if’ scenarios that occur when your process doesn’t go according to plan. See how we do it HERE