Rise of the Project Workforce, Chapter 7: The Workflow Foundation

March 29, 2008 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Best Practices,Project Workforce Management

Rise of the Project Workforce, Chapter 7: The Workflow Foundation (#7 in the series Rise of the Project Workforce)
By Rudolf Melik

For more details about how Project Workforce Management automates workflows and enables business process management, see Rise of the Project Workforce.

Using email and spreadsheets to manage projects, and following habitual manual processes for most business procedures may feel like the most efficient course of action. It is natural to do what is familiar and to resist change. However, in a flat world, we must adjust to working with fragmented and remote workforces, and we must address mounting compliance issues. We must automate our business processes and link them together to find new ways to be efficient.

Workflow is a structured way to define and automate business processes. A workflow can be diagrammed using a flow chart, from one initial state (such as “Open Purchase Request”) to one or more final states (such as “Request Rejected” and “Purchase Completed.”) Workflow also provides mechanisms to assign, search, and report on tasks.

Any nontrivial human project or process can benefit from workflow management, which is also known as human business process management (BPM). A few examples of commonly automated workflows are Interactions with customers, repeatable processes in projects, workforce processes such as new hiring and skills updating, and financial processes such as invoicing and purchasing.

The main components of an effective workflow system are as follows:

  • Workflows can be classified and sorted by departments.
  • Users may be assigned to various roles for the creation, assignment, and completion of appropriate tasks.
  • Queries can be run to define priorities, create task lists for users, and send alerts.
  • Workflows are visualized, as in a common workflow diagram.
  • Exceptions to processes can be easy handles through conditional routing, escalation, or other measures.
  • Tasks in a workflow are automatically assigned as the process reaches a new state. For example, once a worker submits a timesheet, his manager is automatically assigned to approve it.
  • Parallel processes enable the fastest and most efficient operations.
  • Workflows are easily definable by users–they are not confined to out-of-the-box definitions.
  • Workflows can be linked together and nested to create comprehensive processes.
  • Customer access ensures a “self-service” environment where people can collaborate and questions and problems are avoided.

The benefits of automated workflows are numerous. They reduce dependence on IT, lower maintenance costs, and generally enable people to do more work in a self-service mode. Workflows are visual representations of standardized business processes that help companies implement best practices and ensure compliance.

For more details about project management and Sarbanes-Oxley, see Rise of the Project Workforce.

Rudolf Melik is the author of The Rise of the Project Workforce: Managing People and Projects in a Flat World, and is the CEO and a founder of Tenrox. In his writings and speeches, Melik explores the ways that companies can thrive in a world where rapid technological advances and globalization are changing how we get work done and manage the people who do it. Rudolf’s professional blog can be found at: http://www.talentontarget.com/talent_on_target.

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1 person has left a comment

A good article pointing out many of the benefits of workFlow and Business Process Management.

I do like being able to visualise business processes, however it need not be a necessaity of a BPM tool to map these and in effect, build the system rules / process using that map. Using such tools to build the actual process within the system looks great, however, in my experience many of them can leave you very frustrated due to their slight lack of flexibility, especially when trying to integrate in multiple LOB systems data into a particular step or process…This leads me on to my next comment…

You don’t touch on the importance of integrating systems together within BPM / workFlow solutions. Without LOB application integration you don’t get the full benefits that workFlow and BPM can deliver. BPM solutions that bring together and integrate seamlessly with other systems deliver a greater ROI and end user experiences….

Great article…

Andrew Smith wrote on November 12, 2009 - 11:35 am | Visit Link

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