Workflow Management

Workflow management is a coordination of the tasks your teams undergo. We are talking about a sequence of tasks that are part of a larger task and that need to be completed in order to reach a business goal.

In this article you will learn:

  • How to build and track more efficiently that sequence of steps while getting better results.
  • Why workflow management software is good for your organization
  • How to keep up with all the processes while saving time!

1. What is a workflow?

A workflow is a sequence of activities that need to be completed in order to achieve a certain goal, for example, onboarding an employee, or approving time-off. Using workflow automatization software, you will eliminate repetitive tasks, decrease costs and increase productivity.

If you check an online definition of the workflow, you might end up puzzled at first. For example, businessdictionary.com defines it as: “Progression of steps (tasks, events, interactions) that comprise a work process, involve two or more persons, and create or add value to the organization's activities".

Well, a workflow is a method you design to get things done and it can be represented as a series of steps that need to be completed gradually. 

Some workflows can be executed by only one person and others that involve multiple people.



2. Top workflow types


Diagram and checklist

You can use a diagram, from the simplest to the most complex one, to embody your workflow management, in any department of your organization.

For example, when referring to the time off requests, the workflow would consist of:

  1. The employee adds time off request to the HR software used by the company
  2. The manager approves/declines it
  3. The employee receives a notification about the result of his request

Maybe most people will prefer checklists over diagrams. A checklist is more practical when a workflow is composed of many steps and more than one person is involved. For example, the onboarding process conducted by the HR department will be best illustrated with a checklist.

Process workflow, case workflow, and project workflow

The process workflow develops when the set of tasks is certain and repetitive. This means that before one step is taken, you know what course it should take. This type of workflow goes well with business processes that are composed of a great number of steps, such as purchases.

As opposed to this kind of workflow, the case workflow does not reveal from the start the path required to complete it. It needs some investigation in order to arrive at the end of the path. An insurance claim would be a good example in this case.

The project workflow is similar to the process workflow, but it brings more flexibility. Think about organizing a conference. You can anticipate accurately the sequence of tasks needed to complete the project, but unpredicted events may occur that did not appear in the last conference you organized.


3. Why do you need workflows?

Improved productivity is the ultimate purpose. For this to be achieved, you need to answer three simple questions:

  • What exact jobs are being done?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • What time does each task take?

If you quantify the work that is being done, you can manage how good is executed.

By creating and using workflows, you will be automating repetitive tasks, therefore reducing the possibility of errors. Everyone has to gain from this: managers will make smarter decisions and employees have the opportunity to work in a more productive and engaging manner.

You will be eliminating redundant tasks and therefore improving efficiency.


4. How to manage automated workflows?

A workflow management software is a tool you need to digitize your workflows and turn your business into the most productive version of itself.

The workflow management software we offer helps you build and track all the processes, from all your departments. Therefore, it grants you the possibility to design a visual representation of the workflow, including all repetitive, restrictive tasks and exceptions. The software will run the workflow automatically, on its own. A user should be able to insert a starting form and the software will move the item through all the steps until the task is completed.

A successful organization usually has a central workflow management software that each department can use to design their own, activity-related workflows.


5. Automated vs Manual Workflows

When dealing with a manual workflow, a human is responsible for shifting each item from one task to the next one. For example, when an employee needs time off, he must email his manager for approval, who will then respond to that email to the employee. 

And in the end, the HR department will need to be informed about the number of days the employee will be off, so the manager needs to send an email as well.

While with automated workflows, there is no such process. When a person completes a task, he is not responsible for pushing the item to the next task. The workflow is set up to shift the data through all the tasks. It will also manage all the notifications, reminders and deadlines. Using the same example, the employee will submit a very simple time-off request, the manager will receive a notification and then act on it. With a simple click, he will accept or decline and the employee and the HR department(if the request is approved) will receive a notification.

Automated workflows allow you to track items extremely easy. With manual workflows, you would need to send endless emails and messages, to check the status of the task or to manually update a spreadsheet as the item goes from task to task. This way, you risk losing valuable time.

Another great advantage of automated workflows is the enhanced visibility you get. If you are responsible for the last task of the item, you can at all times, check the system, and it will show you exactly where the item is in the workflow. It also helps in establishing accountability, because everyone knows exactly their job and they cannot pretend they are not responsible for potential failure.


6. Top 6 HR workflows you need to AUTOMATE

An average employee may have no problem in sending an email to the manager/HR department when needing a day off. But if we count the requests all the employees in your organization submit and add it to the fact that the HR department may be in the middle of handling other projects at the same time, we get why they may be overloaded with work. This is why HR specialists and managers are becoming more and more dedicated to finding tools that will automate workflow for human resources. It’s the simplest way to make sure that:

  • Employees obtain rapidly and accurately what they need
  • Employees feel that communication is open at all levels and transparency is a value of the company
  • The HR staff is more efficient

In HR-related processes, workflow automation basically means that HR staff can assist employees with their needs, while still focusing on the more complex goals and projects that can’t be automated.


Here are 6 of the most essential HR processes that can be automated with workflow management:


1

Employee Onboarding

You can forget about emailing the employee asking him to fill in numerous forms. With an automated workflow, you will be able to collect all the personal data you need from the new hire, while he completes the online forms. 

Workflow management in this case also means that all the departments that have a task to complete (IT, finance, operations) will receive a notification to keep them informed about when they need to step in. Every step of the process is handled accurately, without creating stress for the new hire or the HR staff.

Employee onboarding is crucial for the success of any business. It’s not only about hiring the right people but also making sure that they are introduced correctly, will help them to start being productive faster, be more engaged and satisfied. It also helps with the retention rates and has deep links within the company culture. If you want to improve your you deal with the new staff members, we have invested more than 100 hours into crafting our new hire onboarding guide that could be useful.


2

Performance review process

Your managers and supervisors are probably tired of the papers that need to be completed in the process of performance evaluation. Automate this workflow and they will enjoy key approvals and reviewing crucial points for every employee. Moreover, the employees will be more engaged in this activity, if he knows exactly what are the steps taken and how far ahead in the process is at a specific time.

In case if you are interested about a simple performance evaluation form, you can get it for free with one click from our free HR templates section.


3

Time off requests

A process that usually takes up a lot of time, the leave request will become a delight with automated workflow. You will be getting accurate data in order to complete the approval process and all the documentation will be compliant. If you are already using a leave management software, you will be reducing a lot of administrative time.

Looking for a template to request PTO or sick leave? Download now the free leave of absence request form template.


4

Timesheet approvals

Filling in manually timesheets can very easily lead to several issues. Firstly, they can be illegible, stained, folded and they can be misplaced. Then, if there are requests for special inputs, the whole process of payroll can be delayed. Therefore, the financial staff will be under a lot of pressure regarding deadlines for paying the salaries.

Eliminate all this hassle and automate your timesheet approval workflow. Every actor in the process will have an overview of the route the data is taking. Exceptions and queries are instantly handled and the system can push notifications to inform the participants in the workflow of the results.

Accurate information will be available for reporting and the staff will have more time to dedicate to the more business-critical tasks within the organization.

Download for free designer made timesheet templates.


5

Travel requests

They are usually solved through a series of emails between employees, managers, finance, and HR. Automate this workflow and offer the employee the possibility to fill in a simple form, which will then travel to every proper point of decision. The system will route the information exactly where it needs to go.


6

Employee offboarding

If you are currently handling the employee offboarding solely manual or paper-based checklists, you are inclined to make errors. And this is a very important process for your organization.

An automated workflow will replace the paper-based checklist and will ensure no steps are skipped. It’s a great way to show the former employee that your company is professional and also to forget about stressing over offboarding.

Interested to learn the best practices about exit interviews, some key questions to ask the employees that are leaving? Discover insights into the offboarding process into our guide that includes an exit interview template in word format.


7. TIPS for designing your perfect workflow management

Provide communication guidelines

Before imposing new rules to your team, make sure you set communication guidelines before. Everyone has to be informed and encouraged to offer feedback.

Simplify the tasks you do regularly

Think about all the departments that have repetitive tasks on their hands. Can you automate any of those tasks and save valuable time?

Create an internal knowledge base

Such a knowledge base will be much appreciated by your collaborators since they would be able to access resources easily.

Set goals

Goal-setting stimulates team members and facilitate their understanding of how their work supports company objectives.

Define accountabilities and expectations at the start

You need to be able to answer 3 questions: 

  • What exact jobs are being done?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • What time does each task take?

Keep your workflow straightforward

Try not to create a complicated workflow. Start with a simple one and check it on a regular basis, making adjustments if needed.


Conclusion

Your HR department should take up workflow automation because it will ensure a better employee experience(and more engaged employees), greater HR productivity and higher standardization. Know exactly what every employee is supposed to do and when. And allow them to have an insight on how processes develop in your organization.