Workflow examples like these give you an idea of what’s possible with workflow management software. We’ve found that once people see a few good examples, the workflow automation ideas just start pouring out. Below are a few workflow diagrams that show the ways people have used automation to improve their business processes.
Workflow management systems allow employees to submit requests, gather approvals, and see status updates while allowing IT departments to provide rapid response and improved service levels to employees. The workflow process behind requests for new IT projects, employee on-boarding, capital expenditure approvals, marketing collateral requests, etc. are drastically simplified.
Speaking of simplified, these workflow examples are very rudimentary. Most of the workflows our customers create have much more complexity. These workflow diagrams are just intended to get your brain kickstarted about workflow automation and what’s possible.
There are a wide variety of incident response processes that can be automated, for example, cyber security breaches, internal non-compliance or whistle-blowing, safety issues, etc. We’ve talked at length about handling cyber security breaches so let’s use that as an example. A reported incident is initially evaluated by a frontline team that assesses the situation, severity, etc. and makes a determination if it should be sent to an assignee (for instance the department head) for review. The department head may decide to simply file the incident or pass it along to the remediation team to handle. Once the remediation team solves the issue the solution is reviewed by the designated executive, who needs to approve the solution or reject it. Once a solution is accepted and implemented, the Reporting Compliance team documents the entire incident and resolution.
New IT Projects
IT Projects are discreet efforts to solve a business problem within a specific timeline. Without an organized, formal method for intake, requests for IT projects can quickly become wasteful and overwhelming.
IT departments use work flow management to provide a framework and process for submitting, reviewing, approving, assigning and tracking IT project requests. On the right is a simplified process flow for an IT project request.
In the rudimentary example on the right, an IT project request is assigned to a first approver (their manager) and if not approved, it’s returned to the submitter with a notification. If it is approved by their manager, it proceeds to IT. If accepted, the process ends. If rejected it’s returned to the submitter.
Capital Expenditure (CapEx) Requests
Improperly tracking and evaluating capital expenditure requests is one of the top issues preventing CapEx programs from being successful. Workflow automation plays a pivotal role early in the CapEx process by providing a consistent, compliant and measurable method for managing CapEx requests.
In the simple diagram on the right, you can see the process initiated with an employee completing a form designed to capture all the required datapoints to initiate a capital expenditure request. The request, once approved by their department manager, is passed through a basic business rule regarding the size of the request. Based on the rule, the assignee is the appropriate Finance approver.
Once the request is approved , the requestor is notified, the data is passed to the accounting system and this part of the process ends or continues to Purchasing, etc.
New Hire/Onboarding Workflows
Every step of the new hire process is important, starting with the initial intake of a new employee. The process needs to be seamless and compliant with organizational and legal requirements.
In the simple example on the right, the early part of a new hire process is shown. Typically this process requires a great deal of back-and-forth between stakeholders. An automated workflow triggers notifications and approvals as steps are completed, avoiding manual emails, phone calls, and check-ins.
In this process, the I-9 form triggers a separate path if the applicant is a re-hire, bypassing the background check process in favor of an internal check.
If it’s a new hire, they applicant continues through the standard background check protocol. Based on the results of the background check, a notification may be sent to the hiring manager (and/or another stakeholder). A separate process might handle this situation.
If the applicant passes either the re-hire check or the background check they continue on and receive an offer letter (based on the hiring manager’s initial submitted information) and a starting date is scheduled.
At this point, other processes would begin, for instance, hardware acquisition, space allocation, benefits information being sent, etc.
Job Change of Status Requests
In larger organizations with multiple management layers, job changes require the input of several different stakeholders before being approved. In this example, there are no less than six levels of approval before an employee can officially start a new role.
In an automated workflow, each step in the process happens as the previous approval is acquired. Along the way, the employee can see where the request is in the process and whose approval is next (if this kind of transparency is desired).
Approval can be as simple as reviewing the information in a company portal and choosing to approve it or clicking on an “Approval” link in an email.
The entire process is tracked for reporting later. This allows HR personnel to see if there is a bottleneck in the process on a regular basis. For instance, trend data may indicate that requests tend to stick with the GM for an unacceptably long period. The situation can then be addressed with the GM (or an alternate route could be implemented).
This reporting/trending element of automation becomes critical for organizations looking to improve upon their business processes over time.
An improperly-approved contract can be a nightmare. Depending on the term, it can remain a nightmare for years. By building workflows to vet contracts according to organizational business rules, companies can avoid legal and financial headaches.
The example here shows that a contract must be signed of on by the department head before being vetted by finance. If Finance believes it to be within budget and acceptable they pass it on to Legal for review. Depending on the type of contract, it may route to a different legal team. Once Legal has approved it (asking for changes as needed), the original PDF is stored in the Contract Database and the process ends.
In a small organization, a phone call to Ray in IT can usually resolve IT support issues fairly efficiently. In larger organizations, an IT support request system is required. Workflow management is the backbone of these systems. Advanced rules can be used to route requests based on type, severity, department, etc. Users can track their requests and IT managers can report on performance. On the right is a simplified example of an IT request workflow.
Looking for even more examples? We have more on our Help site.