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What is a workflow and how to create one

Alicia Schneider 11 min read
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The process of completing tasks needs to flow seamlessly in order to ensure a successful process or project. This flow can be a series of steps in place that dictate how you get from point A to point B on a task, otherwise known as a workflow.

In the business world, a workflow is key to many tech-driven projects. Companies are constantly looking for ways to optimize their workflows to make processes more efficient, but to know what that means and how it can be achieved, we first need to look closely at what a workflow is.

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into workflows, looking at what they are, different types, components, tips for making them stronger, and how platforms like monday work management can help you optimize them easily.

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Definition of a workflow

A workflow is a sequence of tasks that are part of a larger process or goal. Workflows outline how tasks get structured, the person or team responsible for each task, dependencies, and other conditions. Essentially, a workflow is the path that designates how tasks go from their start to being completed.

Workflows are used in many different fields, from project management to software development and many others to help streamline work processes and improve efficiency. Without a workflow, tasks risk being disorganized and getting lost in the shuffle, so implementing workflows in your business is key to keeping processes flowing smoothly.

Types of workflows

There are three main types of workflows, with each one fitting different types of teams, projects, and needs. Sometimes companies use a combination of all three while others might prefer keeping everything uniform and using just one. Let’s take a closer look.

Process workflow

A process workflow uses steps involved in completing a task, such as the order of operations, responsibilities, and rules or conditions of the flow of work. Before a task begins in a process workflow, it’s easy to chart exactly the way it will go since everything has been previously laid out in clear steps.

Here’s an example of how it would look:

  • Purchase order processing will start with a purchase request submitted
  • It willthen move through different steps such as approvals, checking goods, invoices, etc.
  • The workflow will end with a payment being issued

Case workflow

Case workflows look at unique individual instances that need a series of steps to be completed, so you don’t always know the path ahead of time like process workflows. As more information is gathered, the path becomes clearer, and different workflows can be applied. For example, a customer support issue may need a case workflow for different complex cases. Once a ticket is submitted the path will become clearer as a customer service agent tries to resolve the case, which can take different paths depending on the solution the company and customer agree on.

Project workflow

Project workflows are almost like a cross between process and case workflows in that they follow a more or less defined path, but offer space for flexibility. That said, a project workflow that works for one task or project may not work for another, so it’s still unique. An example of a project workflow could be developing a new app. While the workflow is comprised of different stages related to research, design, testing, and others, when building a different app the identical workflow may not be entirely relevant.

Workflow example with

There are so many processes that can be considered a workflow – from sending an email to onboarding a new customer. To get a better idea of what they look like and how they work in the real world, let’s look at an example.

Improve leads management

workflow for lead scoring

Sales leads can come in from many different places, so putting a workflow in place to manage them will help your team become more efficient. Here’s how the workflow would look in practice:

  1. Track incoming leads
  2. Assign each lead to a relevant sales team or rep
  3. Score and prioritize leads based on predetermined criteria
  4. Establish initial communication with each lead
  5. Track follow-ups to continue nurturing your leads
  6. Keep lead history and communication up-to-date

Of course, this process can include a lot of other little steps, but overall, it makes lead management more effective. That said, doing this manually can be time-consuming and challenging. By using, sales lead workflows can be automated so that most tasks get done in the background.

Using smart forms, lead boards, lead scoring features, and more, is proven to help track and nurture leads while saving time. Thanks to, teams were able to generate 69% more leads while saving 20 hours a month and collecting data in one unified place.

What are the 3 basic components of a workflow?

Now that we understand more about the different types of workflows and what they look like in practice, it’s important to look at the basic components of every workflow. These components include:

  • Input: The staff, materials, data, and resources that go into completing a step in a process.
  • Transformation: The rules or steps of how input is received and what happens to it once received.
  • Output: The product or deliverable that is created as a result of the workflow. The output also can serve as the input for the next step in a process.

While it may seem simple on the surface, each component is made up of different tasks. We can use a customer placing an order online as an example.

  1. The input would be the client placing an order, which is pretty straightforward.
  2. In the transformation process, the order goes through multiple workflow steps, including payment verification, inventory checks, payment processing, creating a shipping label, and more.
  3. In the output process, the order is confirmed by email, inventory is updated, items are packaged and shipped, and the system updates its records.

If the customer wants to return this order, a new workflow will be triggered with a different input, transformation steps, and output.

5 reasons to standardize your workflow

Building workflow standards will help you know what to expect with new tasks, allowing you to better allocate time, track budgets, and estimate workloads for your team. There are a lot of benefits to standardizing your workflow, let’s examine some of the most common ones.

1. Increased productivity

A standardized workflow means every team member knows their assignments. They know what to do and when to do it, eliminating the ambiguity that leads to delays and missing work.

The reduction of manual work that comes with standardization will also contribute to more efficient workflows, which means your teams can get more work done.

2. Less micromanagement

Team members are empowered to take ownership of their tasks because a clear plan is already laid out. Managers can hand over more autonomy because they can quickly see where tasks and projects stand against deadlines. On, managers can inquire directly about a task and automate management cues like reminders to complete tasks, provide status updates, and seek approvals.

3. More consistent results

Standardized workflows produce more consistent outputs. With a standardized workflow, you can deliver an almost identical result each time, including the time it takes to finish. Because you have created a routine process, even new key players can be onboarded and execute their tasks smoothly.

4. Improved onboarding and adoption rates

An integral and essential workflow of every growing organization is onboarding new hires. While critically important, onboarding is also time, resource, and cost-intensive. Standardized workflows on work management software like drastically speed up new employee ramp-up time and empower them to contribute value sooner rather than later.

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5. Reduced risk

The uniform structure of standardized workflows lends itself to risk reduction. Mapping out a workflow from start to finish helps project managers and contributors understand potential points for roadblocks in advance— this way they can build their strategy accurately. Additionally, it helps reduce risk throughout project execution. When employees have a clear path dictating how to complete processes, when to seek approvals, and how to uphold standards or requirements, the likelihood of mistakes and delays is significantly reduced.

Tips to optimize your workflows

As we’ve seen, standardizing your recurring business processes is well worth the effort, due to the payoffs in productivity and efficiency. Here are a few ways you can optimize your workflow even further:

  • Place equal value on ownership and tasks: Make it clear who owns a task, who to reach out to, or points of content to free up time for managers and leadership
  • Automate, automate, automate: Introduce automation to the mix whenever possible, such as your website lead form, email communications, task assignments, and more
  • Establish consistent communication practices: Encourage communication consistency in your team for feedback and updates by commenting on tasks or adding real-time updates
  • Keep your key performance indicators (KPIs) visible: Set clear expectations for performance on team and individual levels by setting KPIs that anyone can access to track progress over time
  • Prioritize tasks: Ensure that critical work is addressed first by including a priority level, so  when your team is faced with tight deadlines or unexpected changes, they can quickly understand and execute their next move

Create seamless workflows with monday work management

Creating workflows requires a unified platform, especially when you have multiple different processes. Part of making workflows more efficient is utilizing tools with work management systems like to unburden your team from manual and time-consuming processes. Let’s take a look at some monday work management features that make building workflows a breeze.

Custom automations

leads automation in monday work management

monday work management allows you to build your own automation formulas based on your needs. That way, you can automate dependencies in different tasks, like reminders, communications, and more so that your work flows more smoothly.

Seamless integrations

workflow integrations in monday work management

With monday work management, you can easily integrate over 200 of the most popular work tools, meaning your existing workflows won’t get interrupted. With integrations for tools like Slack, Gmail, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and more, you can ensure that the workflows you build will continue working with the platforms your team is used to.

Hundreds of templates

workflow template example in monday work management

monday work management templates make it quick and easy to get started. Choose a template that most closely matches your workflow requirement and customize it to meet your needs. You can use a premade board template and adjust it with custom automations, columns, task statuses, and more so that the platform is built to fit your current workflow, not the other way around.

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Your first steps to creating a workflow

Building a workflow doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should be focused. Getting all the tasks and sequences organized and standardizing multiple workflows takes time to set up, but will make all the difference moving forward in how efficient your teams are.

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to more deeply understand the value of workflows, it’s time to get started with building your own with monday work management. Scroll through our list of fully-customizable templates and find one (or a dozen) that best suits your workflow needs.


To create a new workflow, begin by identifying the process to map out. You can start doing this by defining the different tasks involved, putting them in a sequence, assigning responsibilities, and setting specific rules.

A workflow indicates a series of tasks that make up a process, while a flowchart is the visual representation of a process using symbols and arrows to mark the flow of steps. A workflow doesn’t necessarily need to be visually represented.

The best workflow software is the one that best fits your team’s specific needs. When looking for the right workflow software, like for something flexible, scalable, and customizable like monday work management.

Alicia is a digital marketing and tech freelance writer with a passion for turning complex jargon into engaging content that everyone can understand.
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