Who optimizes their processes more intelligently? Efficient business processes are a prerequisite for companies to achieve a strong competitive position. Digital workflows and workflow management systems are becoming key factors in this context.
The terms business process and workflow are often used synonymously, but on closer inspection they are not. Business processes describe which work steps have to be done in which order to produce a desired result.
A workflow describes the technical implementation of a business process or sub-process. It specifies who performs which activities by when and how to achieve a specific result. A workflow can organize activities sequentially or in parallel and can be run manually or automated. For reasons of efficiency, companies strive to achieve the greatest possible Workflow Automation possible.
A workflow is always self-contained: It begins with a trigger, followed by an activity and finally a clear end point. In order to determine whether the workflow is complete, a target state must be defined in advance. For example, for the A/P invoice processing workflow, the end point is payment to the supplier.
Workflows can be quite simple: a checklist on paper or a step-by-step guide on the company wiki explains to employees how to service a machine, approve an invoice or request a vacation day. Such workflows ensure a certain efficiency because they provide employees with orientation as to which tasks are to be processed in which order and standardize procedures. But this checklist approach has weaknesses.
Often employees do not read instructions and still go their own way. Errors then quickly occur and a consistent quality of results is not achieved. Workflow management systems provide a remedy.
A workflow management system is software in which workflows can be digitally modeled and used to guide employees through workflows.
Workflow software in this way not only brings a higher processing speed and relieves employees, but also prevents errors from the technical side. This is because the application can check inputs against previously defined criteria and prevent progress to the next processing step in the event of irregularities.
If workflows are digitally structured, a standardized procedure is ensured, which has a positive effect on the quality of the work results. In addition, problems can be tracked more easily because each employee follows the same workflow. Workflow tools make it easy to implement changes in procedures and ensure compliance.
Optimizations can be achieved in every area of a company by introducing workflow management systems.
Finances: One business process, for example, is invoicing. A workflow would describe or specify which application is used to generate an invoice, who must approve it and by what means, and how it is sent to the customer.
Maintenance: Production plants and machines must be checked regularly. Workflows determine which measured values employees should collect and in which order. Workflow tools guide you step by step through the process and prevent important checks from being forgotten.
Logistics: At goods receipt, deliveries must be checked for quality and completeness. Workflow software can provide support here by querying the results of individual work steps and requesting different next steps from the employee depending on the input.
Workflow management systems that use assisted reality features are particularly efficient. Here, work steps are simulated in the user’s Smart Glasses are simulated in the user’s field of vision, or notes and contextual information are displayed: Which measured values mark the normal range? Where can the valve to be tested be found? What tools must be carried for use?
Thanks to workflow management software, employees can concentrate on the core of their tasks. Many arrangements and inquiries are eliminated, documents do not have to be searched for and contact persons do not have to be asked.
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Workflow management software structures workflows, maps them digitally and integrates mechanisms for error reduction. Not every system automates activities, however. Companies with the goal of automation must therefore look specifically for workflow automation tools.
In order for workflow management software to provide a company with significant efficiency benefits, the stored workflows must be strategically designed. The better companies model their workflows, the greater the time and cost savings.
For modeling, process visualization methods such as the event-driven process chain (EPK) or the Unified Modeling Language (UML) are helpful. This way, you can represent workflows as flowcharts and easily adapt them as new ideas arise.
Workflow management is one of the top issues in companies. According to forecasts by the US market research company Grand View Research, the market for corresponding software will grow by grow by 30% . This is hardly surprising given the potential cost benefits of workflow tools. In addition, workflow management software forms the basis if companies want to benefit from the automation megatrend.
Unlike other technologies and concepts that help companies realize efficiencies, workflow management systems can be implemented on a comparatively shoestring budget. However, the productivity gain usually quickly reaches the double-digit percentage range. It is therefore worthwhile for companies of all sizes to address the issues of workflow optimization. This benefits not only the bottom line, but also employee satisfaction.
Of course, you can get advice from ALEGER on the subject of workflow management. We will also be happy to advise you on the selection of suitable equipment.
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