To set this article into motion, it will be fitting to address a frequently asked question: How is project management different from workflow management?
The two are conceptually similar but cannot be interchanged. Investopedia defines project management as the preparation and organization of resources in order to direct a specific organizational project, job, event or duty toward completion. This entails skillful application of one’s knowledge, experience and techniques in order to meet or exceed the organization’s needs and expectations.
On the other side of the coin, workflow management is the optimization of routine tasks. (Projects can be small, huge or mid-sized but not necessarily repetitive or long-term.) For most businesses, especially mid-sized and large enterprises, routine tasks include hiring and onboarding of new employees, contract approvals, logistics planning and allocation, budget and expense approval, among many others.
How to adapt to evolving market trends and demands
Today’s evolving market just as well has evolving demands, and the speed at which these demands must be met is just one important factor to consider when delivering workflow management accomplishments to stakeholder expectations.
A cloud-based workflow management system can be an effective tool in helping department and project managers adhere to these ever-increasing, if not complex, demands. Some features include project/task directory, central logs, documents management, forms integration, and the like.
Here are more details on these noteworthy features:
- Seamlessly integrate existing systems with an upgraded one
With a simple setup process, a web-based workflow management system entails no need for manual installation in each business computer. Cloud-based as it is, it is easily accessible via a hosted service provider. Interoperability between various departments and applications (through application programming interfaces) is also enhanced, that is, if the application is easy to navigate and operate, without the need for complicated programming and additional training.
- Team collaboration
With the right work order management software, conversations, comments, task delegations and updates to team tasks and goals can be cascaded efficiently in real-time, keeping everyone in sync throughout the course of the workflow. This helps avoid some members losing track of workflow changes, if any. Duplication errors are also eradicated because members can easily locate and access the most updated version of a particular file or instructional material via an integrated system.
- Task tracking
Task updates, task prioritization and completion are easily monitored. Delays in tasks and overall workflow completion are eliminated through auto-generated due date reminders and new task notifications.
- Custom workflow management
Every industry will have different needs, priorities, and standards. Similarly, some workflows, even when already deployed, need to be tweaked to adhere to changing end-result requirements. With an easily programmable workflow management software, managers can easily customize KPIs (key performance indicators), develop and delegate unique tasks and activities, as well as roll out productivity measurements according to their specific workflow protocols.
- Cost savings
A web-based workflow management system usually requires less, if not almost next to no, installation and maintenance costs. And with a pay-per-user scheme, companies need only pay per user on a monthly or yearly basis, depending on their workflow needs. These flexible payment plans allow managers to maximize resources, keeping budget in control.
- More accurate record-keeping and analysis
Manual record-keeping is prone to suffer from human errors, not to mention more time-consuming. With the use of a web-based workflow software, tracking and record-keeping can be automated and more transparent. With an automated tracker, authorized executives can see who has accessed the system, view the details on what has been seen and when. The same happens when changes are made. Authorized personnel can view an update’s particulars – who made the update, what has been updated and when.
- No authorized entities allowed
When speed and budget are being taken into consideration, the web is certainly the most convenient tool to satisfy such parameters. And yet, most companies are hesitant to take on cloud-based applications due to security concerns.
Aside from role-based access control (RBAC) that only allows entry to management and personnel with authorized IDs and passwords, utilizing a private network that uses the same Internet protocols to transmit information can be an option to consider. This, however, may limit your workflow’s accessibility, especially if you have personnel needing to be productive from an out-of-country location.