7 Features You Need to Have in Your Workflow Management System in 2016/17
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Workflows may be a simple sequence of work activities, or a complicated collection of processes that take place in parallel. When a company’s methodology features workflow management system capability, the result can be more visibility into all stages of the process, better accountability among work team members, and improved efficiency overall. With the right workflow management solution, repetitive tasks can be automated, and better collaboration is facilitated.
1. Easy Graphical Modeling of Processes
The first step to understanding and potentially streamlining a process is being able to create a graphical model of the process. This is a formal description or graphic that defines the steps of a process and what results from each of those steps. Intuitive graphical modeling is one of the most important features workflow management software can have. With a graphical model, you can see process and activity definitions, resources, roles of individuals and departments, and expected outputs from all the steps in the process. By capturing and depicting the flow of a process, you get all team members on the same page and help everyone understand why they’re doing what they do. Here is an example of a workflow created in Comindware Tracker with drag-and-drop simplicity:
2. Access Control Based on Participant Responsibilities
Just because modelling and transparency are features workflow management systems should have doesn’t mean that anyone should be able to alter the process or access workflow phases in which they’re not involved. Your workflow management software should allow you to define who is supposed to do what. People in various roles of a process should be able to update their own status, but shouldn’t have access to the entire workflow. At the same time, a project or workflow manager should have the ability to reassign roles if that should become necessary. Administrators should be able to do this quickly, and with ease.
3. Flexibility of Workflow Patterns
Some workflows are simple sequences. Some consist of multiple sequences working in parallel. And some workflows involve several tiers of processes that must be accomplished in a particular order, or a mixture of process types. The flexibility to be able to design and model workflows in a variety of ways is one of the features workflow management software should not skimp on. Ideally, a workflow management system should define and guide processes, but not put constraints on them. Every organization has its own workflows, and their workflow management software shouldn’t stand in the way of creating the exact patterns and workflows that are necessary.
4. Option to Pre-Fill Forms
This may sound like a nice convenience, but once you use workflow management software that allows pre-filled forms, you won’t want to go back to doing it any other way. One of the greatest benefits of workflow management software is being able to automate repetitive processes, and pre-filled forms can go a long way toward accomplishing this. When data is entered once, it can populate multiple forms, cutting down significantly on duplication of effort and helping keep error rates down as well. Pre-filled forms may not sound like a big deal, but it is one of the most important features workflow management systems can offer.
5. Easy-to-Interpret Visual Representation of Task Status
Workflow management software should let project or workflow participants check on task status at any time. Features like automatic email alerts, which can tell the next person in a sequence that the process is ready for his or her input, are helpful at keeping things on track. But being able to check at any time whether a particular step has been accomplished can prevent a lot of wasted time and phone calls to project participants asking about the status of steps. Knowing where everyone is in a workflow helps your team members plan their activities effectively, for maximum efficiency in executing the steps of the workflow.
6. Reporting Features Workflow Management Software Should Have
Reporting features, particularly when coupled with strong workflow analytics, are among the most valuable features workflow management software can have. Automated workflows are designed to make it easy to understand performance. But when reports can be generated easily to show who is doing (or has done) what, when the next step is likely to be accomplished, and what workflow participants are still waiting on, everyone has better understanding of their accountability. Plus, it’s empowering to look at a workflow report and see the actual results of your work. Look for a workflow management solution that offers you a dashboard interface that facilitates easy creation of reports.
7. The Convenience of Cloud Hosting
While there are still some businesses that have to have on-site work management software running on their own servers, most businesses can take advantage of the many benefits of a cloud hosted solution. Cloud solutions are cost-effective, easy to scale up or down, and offer employees the flexibility of working from any number of devices and locations. If you have work team members who are located elsewhere or who telecommute, a cloud workflow management system is the only way to go. Cloud systems ensure the latest patches have been installed by the vendor, and that everyone working on a particular project is using the latest version of the workflow management system at all times.
Comindware is the company behind one of the most powerful business operations management suites available. With Comindware Tracker, you can easily create graphical models of workflows, define access based on role, and have tremendous flexibility when designing workflow patterns. Furthermore, you get features like form pre-filling, easy-to-use status representations, and powerful reporting, all in a cloud solution that takes away the worry of on-site server and software maintenance.
Posted on: in Process World