Workflow Vs. Process: Clearing Things Upon 15 February 2021
Business experts go back and forth about workflow vs. process in the same manner as the classic chicken vs. egg debate—which is derived from which? Does one depend upon the other, or are they equally important? What’s the importance of distinguishing between the terms workflow and process?
Initially, you may think that the difference between a workflow and process is irrelevant. Your team gets work done either way, right? Technically, yes; however, when it comes to improving that work, which should you focus on bettering—workflows or processes?
Without knowing the difference between the two terms, you’ll be left in the dark. So if you’re looking to shed a little light on this subject and gain some much-needed clarity, keep reading.
Breaking Down Workflow Vs. Process
A business process—often simply referred to as a process—is a set of high-level actions that transform or combine one or more inputs into a desired output, and may include collaboration between people, roles, divisions, and resources inside and outside the company. Processes are typically created to accomplish a specific organisational goal. The time required for a process’ completion varies; it could take a few minutes, several weeks, or longer.
A workflow is a set of specific steps that dictate what to do and how to do it. While workflows can stand alone, they typically support a process. Subsequently, a process may contain multiple workflows.
Emily Stanley, CEO of Creating Kaizen, sums up the distinction between a workflow and process this way: “Think about a process as the 10,000-foot view and a workflow as the ground-level view.”
Stanley says organisations need to outline both processes and workflows to be successful. The overall business processes are the responsibility of leadership; it’s their responsibility to ensure that communication, data, products, and other resources flow smoothly.
“Business processes should be created in partnership with relevant subject matter experts (SMEs)—individuals who have knowledge of the workflows that make up the processes,” Stanley explains. “SMEs should also have the authority to adjust workflow steps if they find a more efficient or accurate way to complete them.”
According to Stanley, allowing the SME to have more control over their workflows demonstrates a mutual trust between leadership and team members. “This is the key to continuous improvement and business growth.”
Want to ensure your workflows support important business processes? Try Glasscubes, a workflow enabler and collaboration suite. Request a guided demo of Glasscubes today.
Here’s an example from Stanley that helps draw the line between a workflow and process. Consider a request for quote (RFQ). The input is the customer sending an RFQ for parts or service, and the output is the finished quote being sent back to the customer. Within that RFQ process, there are multiple workflows:
- The sales assistant needs to cross-reference competitor part numbers.
- The product manager has to confirm availability of desired products.
- The pricing manager must verify whether profit margins are in line with established guidelines.
- The procurement manager creates the finished quote document based on inputs from other internal parties.
“Each of these contributors would have their own workflow for handling their part of the process,” says Stanley. For example, the product manager would abide by a workflow that uses one or more tools and follows a set of steps that confirms whether the right products are available. The same goes for the other process contributors.
Check out this article for exemplary workflow examples from businesses in several industries.
Enable your workflows and support your organisational goals with Glasscubes.
Glasscubes is more than a workflow enabler—it’s a robust collaboration solution that ensures your entire organisation is able to stay connected internally and externally. In today’s fast-paced business world, you can’t accomplish your goals effectively without collaboration. Glasscubes makes collaboration simple.
Workflows require collecting the right information, and then sharing that information with the right people in a timely manner. You can do that with Glasscubes’ online forms and automated workflow feature. This feature ensures your team spends less time tracking down information, and more time making use of it.
From document management to task management to contextual communication, Glasscubes gives you the ability to stay in the loop on the latest updates, and share what’s most important—all while keeping work moving efficiently.
With Glasscubes, you can:
- Collect, process, and approve information through customisable, automated forms and workflows that include user assignees, assignee follow-ups, and completion alerts.
- Assign and manage tasks for different members of the team, and track them to completion.
- Create customised workspaces for each project team in your portfolio. Team members can share resources and communicate with one another in their specific workspace, and you can access them all for easy oversight.
Want to see how other companies are using Glasscubes to improve their workflows and collaboration? Check out these case studies.
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