Ever since Frederick Taylor and Henry Gantt developed a workflow system to manage railroad construction in the early 1900s, enterprises have endeavored to develop systems to manage business processes more efficiently. Today, automated workflow management systems abound to the point where Workflow-as-a-Service (WaaS) has become a common offering.
What is Workflow?
Workflow is the automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which documents, information, or tasks are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules. Simply put, it is nothing more than a formal description of the steps involved in getting from idea to finished “product.” And the product could be anything from a blog post like this to the Hoover Dam.
Whenever we ask questions like, “How can I reduce my cost of operations, manual effort, and resource requirements?” we are initiating a workflow analysis. (This of course goes back to the age-old question, “How can I build a better mousetrap?”)
How Does Technology Improve Workflow?
- Efficiency – Technology can allow you to replace paper-based steps with automated processes, such as decision-making, quality assurance, and approval chains
- Quality – Increase customer satisfaction through scanning versus re-keying information, decrease errors and revisions, and reduce backlogs through technology
- Speed – Use technology for faster response times such as system-generated communications and responses to inquiries
- Cost Savings – Technology, especially cloud-based programs, can help eliminate paper-based systems and drop paper costs, storage space, and office space required
As with the growing number of IT solutions that can be procured “as-a-service,” there are several different types of automated workflow applications out there. Many of them, like Amazon Simple Workflow and Microsoft’s Workflow Services, address application development processes. Other offerings, like Fujitsu’s Run My Process, are directed at enterprises looking to simplify workflow management. Run My Process provides automated customizable workflows for HR, Accounting, Finance, Procurement, and Field Services.
Consider these wise words from Wired: “The simplicity of automation may not be glamorous, but it lets software be integrated so precisely that it is almost invisible. Your bottom line will stay low while keeping your services relevant and consistent. If your current IT environment isn’t seamlessly connecting your business into revenue-generating opportunities, then it is time to make changes that bring you more impact.”
Of all the workflow automation software packages out there, Infinity recommends industry-leading M-Files. Our experts can help design your workflow in the M-Files system so that the solution is customized for your specific needs. For more information on our approach to workflow automation, contact us today.