Workflow can be defined as the process of completing a series of tasks. A workflow can be very simple and include one person, or it could be a sophisticated and dynamic series of processes among many people, groups or departments. Traditionally forms are created to be part of a workflow. For example, a job application form or purchase order are both forms that represent workflows. These forms are given to someone to complete and are then routed to recipients for review, approval or other actions. In a paper-based environment, the tasks of routing and delivering the form are done manually. When a specific procedure is not documented or followed, often a required step or task is not completed or the form is sent to the wrong person. Errors such as these are time-consuming and expensive. Workflow management and automation software improves the process enterprise.
Workflow Management Vocabulary
To help manage workflows it is important to understand a common vocabulary:
|Workflow: The movement of documents and/or tasks through a work process; how tasks are structured, who performs them, what their relative order is, how they are synchronized, how information flows to support the tasks and how tasks are being tracked.|
|Task: The activities that may or may not be required to be completed at each stage of a workflow process. Tasks include signatures, approvals, and form/field completion.|
|Route: The work process order. The route is defined by destinations and their order. It includes not only users but also a final disposition.|
|Final Disposition: The endpoint for a workflow item. This includes users, data systems, archiving and other possibilities.|
Managing and Automating Workflows Workflow Automation is an area of process improvement in which businesses benefit from higher efficiency, better time management, and a higher level of organization. Automation eliminates errors in routing, completion, and delivery. The system creates an environment where processes can be completed in a fraction of the time it would take traditionally. Workflow Automation provides the ability to manage documents, routes, tasks, electronic signature requirements, collaboration, and users. Additionally, the system integrates with existing business systems such as databases, archiving systems, and other portals.