What does workflow management mean, and what benefits and challenges does your organization face?
Workflow management – this buzzword hides measures with which you can make everyday work in your company more efficient. Digitization also helps to improve workflows in this area.
Through standards, process automation and with software support, you can optimize processes in your company. In this article, you will learn what workflow management looks like in practice. In addition, we show how we at redIT help you with the implementation.
What exactly is workflow management?
The term workflow refers to all work and business processes in companies. Workflow management is therefore all about managing these processes. In doing so, the management runs according to clearly defined structures and transfers these to the individual processes.
This begins with the definition of a process. Workflow management first analyzes the process and determines the start and end points. Next, all possible intermediate steps are considered. Subsequently, it is identified which actions start or trigger a workflow. This creates a flowchart for the individual processes in your company.
Then the actual management of the workflows begins. In this phase, the aim is to find digital or automated alternatives for the respective processes. The overarching goal is therefore to replace processes that currently take up a lot of manual work time with digital, i.e. automated, solutions.
What are the goals of workflow management?
The objectives of workflow management are the following:
- Digitization of manual or analog operations/processes.
- Improvement of the quality of business processes
- Standardization of processes and business procedures
- Increasing the flexibility of business processes
- Reduction of processing times or throughput times
- Increasing the transparency of business processes
- Increasing the availability of information
- Reduction of costs
Workflow Management in Detail: How the Optimization of a Process Works – A Concrete Example
A concrete example illustrates the workflow management approach. It’s about messages and mail of all kinds that arrive at the company every day. In addition to digital messages such as the internal chat or e-mails, there is still the classic letter mail. The entire inbox is thus viewed as a single workflow.
The management of the workflow starts with the capture of all possible ways of messages. This ranges from e-mails to letters that still reach the office by post. As a solution, workflow management offers the consolidation of all message channels into one digital inbox.
The first step in setting up the digital inbox is to provide a system for message delivery. It includes a personal account for each of your employees. Then, the integration of all messaging channels takes place. For digital messages such as e-mails, this can be quickly solved via interfaces.
There are also solutions for digitizing classic correspondence. The goal is to digitize incoming mail directly and transfer it into the system. We offer a complete solution for this. In the video below, you can see how we use artificial intelligence to process and digitally distribute mail for our customers.
However, workflow management does not end at this point. Internal delivery of messages is another aspect that can be automated. The system scans the content of incoming messages. On the basis of this, on the one hand, messages are forwarded to the respective recipient.
On the other hand, the digital inbox is also able to categorize the messages. This is helpful in forwarding general messages directly to the right place. For example, such systems recognize that it is an invoice. The system forwards it to the accounting department using artificial intelligence.
All workflow management solutions work according to this concept. Analysis is followed by centralization and automation.
What are the advantages of the digital inbox?
The advantages of a digital inbox become apparent very quickly in practice. First, all messages are available in one central location. This saves time, because checking multiple inboxes and channels is unnecessary. At the same time, it prevents employees from neglecting or even overlooking messages.
Another advantage is that all messages are now available regardless of location and at any time. The messages are stored in the cloud. Every employee therefore has permanent access to their own digital inbox. This is particularly advantageous for traditional correspondence. Without a workflow solution, employees would have to collect the letters personally from the office and process them manually. At the same time, the integration of the home office is successful.
Another advantage that should not be underestimated is the fact that you can do without a classic paper filing system. On the one hand, this saves space, and on the other hand, you simultaneously fulfill all legal requirements with regard to archiving and retention obligations.
What is also significantly accelerated is the search for old processes. The often hours-long search in file folders is no longer necessary. Instead, you can search by dates, keywords or other factors. In this way, you can find processes within seconds.
What are the benefits of workflow management in practice?
Workflow Management offers the following benefits for your company:
- Time savings due to fewer analog and manual work steps
- Faster processing times through optimized processes
- Access to data from any place and at any time through digitization and the cloud
- Space savings through the elimination of an archive
- High transparency, as all work processes are recorded
What is a workflow management system?
Workflow Management System (WfMS) is the name given to software that handles the implementation of the objectives. There are a number of commercial products that are designed for this task area. The WfMS is not necessarily the software solution that ends up being used to digitize processes. Rather, the software primarily handles the analysis and design of planned workflow processes.
These platforms usually have a graphical user interface. With it, it is possible to get an overview of a particular business process. The individual processes from start to finish are entered graphically – including other possible paths.
Based on this model, the software solution is modeled. Workflow management systems come with their own applications. They can be used to design workflow concepts, which are then used as a solution in your company. Such processes usually work strictly according to the “if/then” principle. This means that a process is activated by a specific trigger and then follows a flowchart.
Implementation and possibilities of a workflow management system in practice
An example from practice can be a workflow for automated payment of invoices. Such a workflow is already quite complex, as it runs through various checks. This also shows that interfaces to other automated workflows are necessary or possible. It therefore makes sense to use as uniform a system as possible as the WfMS.
If a paper invoice is received in your company, the inbox digitizes this letter. An invoice is tagged with the appropriate tag and forwarded to the accounting department. This triggers a new workflow. The system performs a formal and factual check. A manual check is still necessary for payments. Therefore, the system triggers a notification to the responsible person.
If the invoice is correct, the employee releases the payment. Then the automated system takes over again. An entry is made in the accounting system or a comparison is made with the accounts payable workflow. This is again a separate workflow with its own process flow. The system can also trigger the actual payment automatically, taking into account discounts and payment terms.
Thus, with a WfMS, you automate a large number of daily recurring tasks that employees currently still process manually. Thanks to the digital solution, processing is fast and precise. A WfMS helps you automate a wide variety of processes. Intuitive systems allow you to create your own workflows without external help.
What must a good workflow management system be able to do?
These eight points should be mastered by a good WfMS:
- Intuitive workflow designer that works without program code
- Creation of workflows
- Easily integrates with cloud applications
- Reporting with KPIs
- Automatic notifications
- Access control with rights system
- Cloud-based infrastructure
- A central dashboard with an overview of all active workflows and a system for priorities
What challenges do companies face when implementing workflow management?
The introduction of a workflow management system is associated with a number of challenges. They start even before the modeling of concrete workflows. They are primarily organizational and technical challenges that you must first eliminate.
A central point here is the integration into existing systems. Most companies have an evolved IT infrastructure consisting of different programs and systems. Both the workflow management system and the workflows created must be compatible with this infrastructure. This influences both the choice of WfMS and the design of the individual workflows.
Investments in new programs or hardware may be required. For example, implementing a digital inbox requires a suitable scanner or software solution. This leads to changes in the company, which may require training of employees.
It may also require reorganization of some operational processes. This is the case if the analysis shows that changes to the structures make sense or are necessary. This changes the work processes in your company to which the employees have become accustomed. Thus, at the beginning of the changeover, there may be difficulties in implementing new structures.
A central challenge is the design of the individual workflows. Here, experience in dealing with workflow platforms and with the concept itself is required. It is also necessary to get to grips with the workflows themselves. This is why the support of an experienced IT service provider makes sense in this point.
The key challenges for companies when introducing a workflow management system
These are the tasks companies have to deal with when they want to introduce a WfMS:
- Acquisition of additional hardware or software
- Creation of workflows
- Conversion of familiar work processes
- Integration of the WfMS into the existing IT landscape
- Training of employees
We at redIT are your competent partner for the implementation of workflow management
As an experienced IT service provider with a focus on digitization, we at redIT are the right contact when it comes to workflows. We have co-designed and implemented corresponding systems for numerous customers. When creating solution concepts, we take a practice-oriented approach. Thus, we focus on intuitive user interfaces, innovative solutions and systems that reduce your costs.
We at redIT act future-oriented and customer-friendly. Digitization processes such as workflow management are not short-term projects, but ongoing developments. That is why sustainable business relationships and ongoing contact with our customers are important to us. This is how we reliably move you forward. Together with you, we build IT that takes you to your goals.
Draft workflows: We at redIT help you with the implementation
The creation of specific workflows requires an analysis of the requirements and the current processes. That is why we are present at all stages of workflow management. We advise you, analyze the existing situation and then propose concrete solutions. Likewise, we guide you through the design of the workflows and support you during the implementation.
This means we are at your side in every phase of workflow management. Are you interested in the topic of workflow management or would you like to automate processes? Contact us now and we will help you to implement your project.
«Für den erfolgreichen, digitalen Posteingang braucht es einen Partner, der die IT und die betriebswirtschaftlichen Anforderungen versteht und vereinen kann. Mit redIT haben wir diesen kompetenten und erfahrenen Partner gefunden.»
Global Operations Director, Arval (Schweiz) AG
«Der Kreditorenworkflow ist für die Pistor AG ein wichtiger und unverzichtbarer Schritt zur Digitalisierung des Rechnungswesens.»
Leitung Finanzen + Controlling, Pistor AG