As a society, we’re busier than ever.
Our plates are fully loaded both at home and at work. Wouldn’t it be nice if some things just took care of themselves? Or if someone or something could tell us what to prioritize?
That scenario fully describes the intention behind workflow management.
Workflow management ensures work gets done accurately and in a timely manner. It means less human input, fewer errors, and happier employees.
But what is workflow management? And how can we thread it into our daily operations?
In this article, we’ll define workflow management, help you understand how it fits into your business process, and guide you to picking the best possible workflow management app for your unique needs.
What is workflow management?
Workflow management is the act of overseeing a process from start to finish.
You may find yourself wondering how it differs from project management.
Project management tends to cover unique one-off occurrences that require special inputs and attention, where workflow management gears toward business process automation since these processes generally stay the same and occur often.
There are two categories of workflow management:
Sequential management occurs when a task depends on the previous task’s completion before it can begin. A common frame of reference for sequential tasks is to consider them as “if this, then that” tasks.
For example, a sequential task could be waiting to invoice a client until after you’ve delivered the product they ordered. Or, equally, not starting on work until the client’s payment has come through.
Parallel management occurs when you can perform tasks concurrently. There’s no dependency on other tasks, so your team can work on multiple tasks at once.
For example, a parallel task could be requesting timecards from the onboarding department and the sales department. Neither depends on each other for completion, so they can both send them at the same time.
How they fit together:
monday.com’s workflow management software takes your data and ideas from paper to customizable dashboards in minutes. Our process management template, for instance, can help you keep track of both sequential and parallel tasks.
What are the essential components of workflows?
Getting the most out of workflow management comes down to understanding some key parameters:
- Inputs: materials required to complete tasks.
- Transformations: specific actions your team applies to transform inputs from their current state into their next state.
- Outputs: the products of transformation.
From there, it’s good to understand the main four components of a workflow management system:
- Actors are individuals or machines responsible for specific parts of the work.
- Activities like a task or business process performed in a single logical step of the process. Again, think “if this, then that” for activities since they are often sequential.
- Results are desirable outcomes for each step of the process.
- State occurs when your project is between processes.
Proper workflow management boils down to meticulous documentation to increase transparency and boost the reproducibility of the workflow for future uses.
What to look for in workflow management softwareA workflow management system is a software application that makes it easy to craft, automate, and monitor your business process in a repeatable and organized manner.
In an ideal scenario, your workflow management software of choice would check all the unique boxes your management or leadership team is seeking. Here are some must-have items to consider:
You shouldn’t have to start from scratch each time you begin managing a new workflow. That’s especially true if your workflows share a common structure or task list. Templates save you precious time by reducing or eliminating extra admin work.
The best workflow management system will not only allow you to create templates but will have lots of templates already built and ready for use.
Workflow management works best when you’re integrating with the tool you use the most. Ideally, your workflow management software will integrate with your favorite communication, storage, CRM, marketing, software development, and project management tool.
The majority of people on your team respond best to visual information. Your workflow probably has a lot of moving pieces and data, so finding a workflow management system that provides a multitude of view options is essential.
Ideally, it would have multiple data visualization views and include some of the more popular ones like Kanban, Gantt charts, and calendar view.
Don’t settle for software that doesn’t help you eliminate your repetitive task load. The automation of notifications when a task gets assigned or completed is a game-changer for productivity since you’re eliminating unnecessary touchpoints throughout the day.
Plus, automation removes the human element, meaning you’ll see fewer errors and probably save both time, money, and resources you’d usually spend on finding and fixing mistakes.
The workflow management software you choose should easily grow with you and have plenty of storage and organization space. As your company grows, it should have some sort of tiered pricing and feature structure that gives you more flexibility and more features.
“What is workflow management?” is far from your only question, so we’ll answer a couple more
Why should I invest in a workflow automation system?
Every project has its own unique business process, just like every organization has its own workflow and core values. Some telltale signs that your organization would benefit from having a workflow management software include:
- Recurring themes where employees tell you they’re not sure what’s expected of them or what they should prioritize
- Repetitive tasks bog down your team’s workflow and bandwidth, which keep them stuck doing manual entry into spreadsheets or paper-based entry
- Regularly onboarding new hires or managing contractors or freelancers that require structure and direction.
- Consistently running into cash flow issues or missed project deadlines due to lack of visibility into the day-to-day operations.
- Recurring feelings of burnout or feeling spread thin by your staff.
On that last one, we should mention that monday.com has workload views to help prevent burnout.
It also has project management tools and visualizations that make breaking complex tasks into small chunks easier. You can also mark a status as “stuck” when you need help.
What’s the best workflow management software?
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and we’ve decided to crown ourselves.
Companies choose monday.com for their workflow management needs for many reasons:
- Easily visualize your process with 8 data visualization options, including workload and timeline views.
- Customize each step of your process tracking with 30+ customizable column types.
- Leverage our unlimited process automation that takes seconds to set up and can save your company hours of redundant tasks and repetitive task work.
- Harness the power of our simple communication and collaboration tools that keep your team’s workflow efficient and aligned.
Still not convinced? Don’t take our word for it. Capterra also has us at the top of their Best Workflow Management Software list.
As a workflow management solution, monday.com is both robust and easy to use. The automated workflow capabilities alone are priceless to your company, and your team will soon wonder how they ever got anything done without it.
As a workflow system, monday.com stands tall by helping you track complex workflows, assign tasks, and reducing the manual process your team dreads the most.
As your team masters their process workflow they’ll probably benefit from trying a daily task tracker template. It helps keep track of all the one-off tasks, so nothing slips through the cracks. It takes minutes to set up and could save you hours.