Our working lives are extremely busy; employees always seem to have multiple tasks and activities they are working on. In any given week, there is likely to be a huge number of systems and applications that they need to use to get things done.
The notifications we receive from different workflows across multiple applications that require our attention and demand action can be overwhelming and rapidly fill-up our email inbox. This not only leads to information and application overload for employees, but it can also be highly inefficient; “to do” items get missed or approvals we need to make are late, leading to bottlenecks in the completion of tasks.
Workflow management is an approach that can drive efficiency, increase productivity and support employee wellbeing, by automating, streamlining and improving the experience of workflows across multiple applications. Managing workflows is a focus for productivity and collaboration platforms like Microsoft 365 and digital workspaces like Workspace 365, and is frequently the way to improve processes.
In this post we’re going to explore in more detail what workflow management is, why it’s important and how workflow management software can help.
What is workflow management?
Workflows range from very simple to highly complex. An example of the former is a person requesting annual leave and it being approved by their manager. An example of a more complicated workflow is ensuring due diligence on procuring a new supplier; this can involve multiple steps, different routes and many people. Employees will be involved in multiple workflows every week.
Workflow management can be defined as carrying out actions that help to streamline, automate, optimise and improve different workflows across multiple business processes and tasks in order to drive efficiency, save time and costs, and minimise the risk of processes not being completed on time. Workflow management can also improve the experience for users. In practice, workflow management often involves using software to help manage the different workflows across the enterprise.
Why is workflow management important?
Workflow management has several major benefits for organisations and employees.
Enables critical digital processes
Workflow is a component of numerous use cases and important processes within any organisation, many of which have been subject to digitalisation. Workflow management enables critical processes that are essential for the day to day working of organisations.
Workflow management can drive efficiency, by ensuring that workflows are successfully carried out from the initial trigger (the start) to the outcome. When workflow go smoothly it saves time, avoids problems and bottlenecks that can delay processes and task completion, and underpins automation.
Successful workflow management can significantly reduce the time employees spend on different activities by simplifying what they have to do – usually by reducing the number of workflow steps involved and meaning users don’t have to enter a myriad of different systems. Avoiding the “context switching” associated with entering multiple applications also reduces any time wasted. Collectively, the time saved through successful workflow management can help raise productivity.
Reducing information and app overload to support employee experience
Workflow management can improve and streamline the experience of workflow for users, in particularly by reducing the reliance on email and aggregating workflows from different systems so they don’t need to enter multiple applications. This helps to reduce feelings of frustration caused by information and app overload, supporting employee wellbeing and a good employee experience.
Getting ROI from your digital platforms
Businesses invest heavily in platforms like Microsoft 365 that enable digital transformation and automation at scale. Successful workflow management can help ensure that you get the very best out of these investments and provide ROI for your stakeholders.
What is workflow management software?
Workflow management software is any platform or application that enables workflow management. It usually does this in a number of ways:
- Automating and orchestrating workflows across different applications and systems.
- Aggregating and centralizing workflows across different applications so different workflows can be viewed or carried from one or fewer places.
- Displaying information relevant to workflows to enable any approval or decision which is part of that workflow.
- Improving the user experience of workflows to make them easier to manage for users and increasing the successful completion of workflow steps.
- Allow users to instigate workflows to drive efficiency.
- Enabling easy approvals across a range of tasks, for example for managers who often have to approve requests across their team.
Workflow management in the digital workspace
A powerful example of workflow management software in action is how you can use Workspace 365 to manage workflows in a single digital workspace, which drives a great employee experience, supports productivity and efficiency, and ensures tasks and processes get completed on time. It’s even more powerful when you combine the workflow management features of Workspace 365 and the Power Automate in Office 365, a popular workflow engine.
The Activity Feed
One of the most popular features of Workspace 365 is the Activity Feed, which aggregates tasks and notifications from multiple systems into a single, personalized feed in your digital workspace. This helps users keep on top of all that they need to do so they can perform the necessary actions.
There are large number of integrations that can be connected to the Activity Feed. Because Workspace 365 has multiple connectors to popular applications like Workday, ServiceNow, Zendesk and Salesforce it means you can easily configure notifications from these systems, for example around the progress of an IT ticket or approving annual leave. It also means you can start to manage workflows around sales processes. What’s even more powerful is that you can also integrate any external application with a suitable API so you can manage the workflows that matter to your users.
Power Apps and Power Automate
Power Automate and Power Apps within the Microsoft 365 suite allow organisations to create custom workflows as well as dedicated applications that can involve workflow. Combined together, you can use Power Apps and Power Automate to manage workflows for both simple, repetitive tasks, as well as more complex processes. Using Workspace 365, you can also highlight workflows delivered via Power Automate and Power Apps (for example within the Activity Feed).
Within Workspace 365 it’s also possible to use dedicated “Micro Apps” that allow users to complete simple tasks involving workflow, all from within one digital workspace. This means users might not have to enter another application or platform at all. A Micro App will tend to focus on one specific task or workflow such as creating and tracking an IT ticket or logging and approving expenses.
Workflow management has many benefits including supporting productivity and improving employee experience. Workflow management software help aggregate workflows together and makes it easier for employees to complete tasks. If you’d like to see how Workspace 365 can help manage your workflows, then why not arrange a free demo?