A workflow system provides a platform for automating processes efficiently.
A workflow system is a platform that combines several discrete workflow tools into one cohesive application that automates processes involving both machine and human tasks, usually in a linear sequence. However, task sequences can also be dynamic and/or run in parallel depending on actions taken or the needs of the process. Workflows can integrate with existing systems using APIs, allowing administrators to connect and push/pull data between applications as part of workflow processes.
A process builder is used to build an automated process flow. A "process" refers to a series of tasks that take place in order to achieve a business outcome. The process proceeds in a sequence determined by actions or pre-defined business rules. Using a process designer in a workflow system involves illustrating these activities and rules as well as identifying the actions whether they are automated, from another system or human-based. Drag, drop and connect tasks to create a custom workflow that streamlines your business process while replacing manual steps with powerful automation.
A form designer allows users to build sophisticated, dynamic forms that are used to gather input from end-users (employees, customers, vendors, etc.) that then feed into the process. In some cases, the information gathered will determine the path of the process. For instance, if an end-user selects "HR" as their department in a form, the process may route the information to someone in HR. Most modern form design tools include the ability to show or hide elements based on inputs (or known user information) as well as perform calculations live within the form.
A workflow engine is an application that runs with a workflow system and makes decisions automatically based on preset rules. These decisions usually involve transitioning to a specific path, task or action in a workflow definition, for instance assigning a task to someone or saving a document to a specific folder in a document management system.
All data and metrics captured during the execution of a process are stored in the workflow system. Data can be compared over time or against SLAs (service level agreements) to track the performance of anyone involved in the process. Reports and information can be displayed in real-time and scheduled for distribution when users need them. Visual reports and dashboards can help paint a complete picture that can easily be shared around your organization. These tools provide a robust workflow analysis that can keep your business or department running smoothly.
Self-service portals provide a consistent, user-friendly Web portal for employees to make requests, manage requests and track request status. On the back-end, administrators in IT, HR, Finance, Operations, etc. can create workflows and rules to automatically route requests based on a variety of factors, fulfill employee requests and analyze performance.
Because user adoption of a workflow system is critical, it's important to take the right approach when rolling your system out to employees, customers, and vendors.
We've written a detailed article on the subject, but here are the key takeaways:
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