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Reviewed by Jul 20, 2021| Updated on
Workflow is a series of tasks or the process, which must be carried out to achieve a target result. Workflows happen in all forms of enterprise and industry. Anytime data is passed between humans or systems, a workflow is created. Workflows are the pathways explaining how something goes from being unfinished to finished, or from being raw to processed.
A workflow management system (WFMS) is a software system for setting up, executing, and tracking a given sequence of processes and tasks, with specific objectives of increasing efficiency, minimising costs, being more agile, and enhancing the knowledge transfer within an enterprise. These systems can be process-centred or data-centred and may represent the workflow as graphic maps.
The workflow management system can also provide an extensible interface to incorporate different software applications and enable comprehensive area workflows that provide faster response times and improve productivity.
Workflows define only the sequence of assignments. A process is a broader term which also involves the data, forms, reports, and alerts needed to get an item in a standardised environment from start to finish.
For example, Initiator, Manager Approval, and Procurement Processing may be the workflow for buy orders. But the procedure also involves a selection of approved vendors to choose from, the specific sequential number assigned to the purchase order, how to inform procurement, the available budget, and several more considerations.
The following examples show the variety of workflows seen in different contexts:
A workflow is the flow of a part through the various processing stations in machine shops, especially job shops and flow shops.
Processing insurance claims is an example of a document-driven, information-intensive workflow.
Wikipedia editing can serve as a stochastic workflow model.
The Getting Things Done framework is a blueprint for the knowledge workers personal workflow management.
The Follow-the-Sun idea defines a method of moving unfinished work through time zones in software creation, service, and other industries.