Thursday, July 8, 2010

Workflow management

For many organizations, workflow management is more than just a point of interest. Processes must take place without errors to ensure that clients remain loyal and keep their competitive edge. In addition, costs must be kept under control in order to generate profits. Although workflow management can help, it cannot handle everything on its own.

View of the organization
A logical condition for implementing workflow management is to get insight into workflows. What are the business processes? Which work instructions and systems belong here? Implementing workflow management systems is often the right impulse organizations need to map out the existing situation, which then paves the way for quality assurance. The workflow management system can even be part of the quality system.

Four perspectives
There are four perspectives in a good workflow management system. The first two are operational, namely creating tasks and consulting or processing them. Creating tasks can be done by employees, but also by systems, which makes it clear to everyone what is expected of them. Furthermore, the optimum mix of information and functionality is always available to execute a task effectively and efficiently. For example, a customer service employee has an overview not only of the contact moments per client, but also all relevant tasks. This way they can satisfy the client more quickly and retain their loyalty.

The third and fourth perspectives of a workflow management system are for steering, namely defining the work processes and dividing the workload. The process owner determines the course of the process and maintains it in the system. The department manager also ensures the optimum division of the workload among the different groups of handlers and employees.

More benefits
In the structural professionalization that companies undergo, implementing workflow management systems is the next important step. A well-implemented system has more benefits than just loyal clients and low costs. In companies with an increasing amount of IT, various tasks do not usually benefit from this automation. With a good workflow system, tasks can be divided randomly among employees, and therefore improve employee satisfaction. Moreover, a workflow management system helps manage results in new offices with flexible workstations. Although the average manager is no longer able to manage people who work remotely, a workflow system can ensure the realization of work and performance, making the actual overview of a department unnecessary, giving employees more freedom and responsibility.

A must for the future
In the coming years, labor productivity is likely to increase in Europe, due to the number of two-income families and people working longer hours. Increasingly busier roads and the added burden of raising children in two-income families will only serve to stimulate remote working as a means to avoid commuting. Workflow management systems can help steer this evolution in the right direction.

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