Know the Importance of Workflows (With Examples)

December 14, 2022
Workflow Automation

Workflows play a huge part in running a smooth business. They play a key role in streamlining and automating time-consuming and repetitive day-to-day organizational tasks by maintaining a set organizational processes.

This, in turn, improve your business’s efficiency and productivity increases. There is a wide range of benefits defined workflows can bring to an organization.

Besides helping staff and employees perform their daily duties more efficiently, workflows also help managers make better business decisions.

To understand workflows better in the context of business operations, this article aims to explore workflows, their importance, and some of the common workflow examples.

What is a Workflow Process?

Put simply, a workflow process is a set of activities that must be performed to finish a business-related task. What is important to note here is that a workflow is repeatable and is created as per pre-determined actions, outcomes, or business rules.   

Often confused with business processes, workflows are quite different. While a workflow process focuses primarily on the completion of a task, a business process is a broader term and is aimed mainly toward achieving an organizational objective.

For instance, new employee onboarding is a common HR practice that many organizations have in place. The objective of this is to successfully onboard the new hires/employees.

The various activities that are required here to complete this goal form a business process, whereas a specific task, such as assigning a new employee a business ID, is a workflow process.

Importance of Having Workflows 

Other than giving your business a proper structure and order, there are several other reasons why workflows are important.

Some of them are listed below:

Enhance Transparency

With a workflow process in place, the responsibilities or duties of each job are clearly specified. Employees, therefore, know what they need to do to complete a task and what to expect as an outcome, thus increasing their job satisfaction.

Helps in Identifying Process Inefficiencies

Having a workflow process provides business stakeholders with a much better understanding of an organization’s day-to-day tasks and activities from start to end. This allows them to identify process inefficiencies and redundancies easily to be able to highlight the specific areas for improvement.

Reduce Costs and Increase Profitability

As most business workflow processes are standardized and help to get the work done faster, organizations end up needing fewer resources, which helps them save money and enhance profitability.

Improve Communication

With a clearly defined workflow process in place, employees become more aware of the various communication channels and better understand the avenues to resolve their queries. This makes the employees more productive and allows them to perform and deliver their best.

Help Identify Opportunities for Automation

A workflow process helps organizations identify various opportunities for automation.

For instance, during the new hire onboarding process, there is a range of actions such as assigning email ID, granting system access to new hires, and more that need to be initiated.

These are all very time-consuming tasks that can simply be automated, allowing HR teams to focus on more strategic tasks.

Top 10 Workflow Examples 

A workflow process is not a one-size-fits solution and varies as per the needs and challenges of businesses. To help you create more efficient systems and improve operations, here are some of the top examples of business workflows:

1. New Employee Onboarding Workflow

Employee onboarding workflows are designed to make the process of new hires' onboarding smooth and hassle-free.

An employee onboarding workflow program should include complete details of the employee, documents submitted, start date, and the employee orientation process. Post this comes the verification of documents and database updation.

An effective workflow for new employees allows the company to keep close track of the candidate's stage in the employee training and orientation process. It also offers new hires a proper checklist of various onboarding tasks that they can refer to assess their knowledge.

Here is an example of what a new hire onboarding workflow looks like:

  • Preparation of the relevant materials.
  • New hires fill out all the required forms.
  • HR discusses aspects such as employee roles, projects, and responsibilities with the new hires.
  • Employee business accounts are created.
  • Training sessions are assigned, and employees are introduced to their respective teams.
  • Weekly check-in meetings are scheduled.
  • Long-term goals and expectations are discussed with new hires.

2. Sales Order Workflow

A typical sales cycle involves a lot of manual paperwork and physical signatures that can potentially slow down the overall process.

Automating your sales cycle or shifting to digital ordering processes can significantly improve your customer service and long-term profits and reduce delays.

For instance, an automated sales order system is an excellent way that allows companies to create digital ordering processes. This can help reduce the chances of errors and misunderstandings while also speeding up the sales cycle significantly with easy-to-use forms and electronic signatures.

Here’s how an automated sales order workflow works:

  • A sales order is created by a salesperson 
  • Once submitted, the manager approves the sales order
  • The sales order is sent to the external client, who then signs it
  • The billing invoice is sent to the client
  • The invoice is paid by the client
  • The fulfillment department delivers the respective product
  • The record department then organizes files and saves digital documents

3. Vacation Request Workflow

Vacation request workflows aim to ensure that the team members get the required time off without affecting company productivity negatively.

A well-designed vacation request workflow helps you reduce the chaos when an employee takes personal time.

Here is how a vacation request workflow works:

  • Request submission - This is the step where an employee submits the designated form to request time off for vacation.
  • Dates Review With Management - Here, the employee needs to discuss vacation plans with their supervisor to ensure they align with the company's paid time off (PTO) standards. Besides, they also need to check with internal department resourcing to ensure there is adequate coverage.
  • Vacation Request Consideration - The manager either approves or disapproves the vacation request submitted.
  • Approval Planning - If the request is approved, it triggers additional planning actions.
  • Replacement - This step requires the management to designate a backup for the employee during vacation. It could either be someone from the same department or a temporary employee.
  • Set up Notifications - Once everything is in place, the employee needs to set up out-of-office notifications and inform your HR department to track their time away from work. 
  • Depart - The employee can then leave for vacation.

4. Purchase Order Workflow

Purchase orders are crucial for businesses as they help track spending. Further, companies often share purchase order documents with their suppliers to ensure complete accuracy in the ordering process.

However, working with manual purchase order forms runs the risk of unexpected delays and other similar contingencies.

An automated purchase order workflow, on the contrary, clarifies things such as various stages of the order and who is responsible for which stage.

Below is an example of a purchase order workflow:

  • A purchase order is created by an employee.
  • The same is submitted to the manager, who approves the purchase order.
  • The purchase order is sent to an external supplier by the manager.
  • The external supplier then sends the product and invoice to the manager.
  • The invoice is authorized and paid by the manager.
  • A record of the transaction is created by the manager for accounting purposes.

5. Recruitment Workflow Management

Finding the right candidate and hiring them quickly is the priority for every organization. A well-defined and streamlined recruitment process is very important for making this transition smooth and organized.

Additionally, a seamless recruitment workflow is the key to ensuring that the right candidates/prospects find the opportunities and no candidate falls through the cracks. 

Automating the lengthy recruitment process allows your talent team to focus on important aspects such as skills, values, and chances to succeed in the role.

Here’s how a typical recruitment workflow works:

  • The hiring manager identifies a specific need and sets the job requirements.
  • This is followed by the creation of the appropriate job description by the hiring manager and sending the same to the recruiting team.
  • The recruiting team then creates a task for the open position and a job posting. 
  • The open position is posted on the company website, various job boards, and social media channels.
  • Suitable candidate applies for the jobs, and the information mentioned automatically becomes a task for the recruiting team to review.
  • An interview is fixed if the candidate meets all of the hiring manager's criteria.
  • If a candidate does not fit the criteria, a rejection email is sent to the candidate.

6. Travel Request Authorization Workflow

As the name suggests, the travel request authorization workflow is used primarily to request and book travel for employees. It helps ensure that all employee-related travel is properly authorized and booked as per the company’s travel policy.

Apart from this, the travel request authorization workflow prevents unauthorized and/or excessive spending on travel.

Here is a sample of a travel request authorization workflow process:

  • A travel request is submitted by an employee.
  • The request is approved by the manager or department head.
  • The employee travels and records all their expenditure.
  • The employee then reconciles actual expenses with approved expenses.
  • In case the actual expenses are higher, the manager will be required to approve the request again.
  • As per the approval, the finance department of the organization reimburses the employee.

7. Expense Claims

An increasing number of organizations these days struggle with outdated and time-consuming manual processes.

One such process is generating expense reports that require employees to file them manually and track several overwhelming worksheets. This leads to unnecessary paperwork and a lot of time wastage that could otherwise be spent on more strategic and productive tasks.

Automating such expense approval processes is an excellent way to reduce inefficiencies in the process and save productive time to make the process more consistent.

Automation allows employees to configure expense report forms with mandatory fields and attachments, thus reducing unnecessary back-and-forth. 

Further, leveraging automated expense approval software allows employees to track the status of their expense claims at any time. It also makes it easy for managers to approve selected parts while asking for revisions on others. 

Here is an example of a simple expense claim workflow:

  • An expense report is submitted by the employee.
  • The same is reviewed and approved by the manager.
  • The employee is reimbursed by the finance department.
  • All data is entered into the accounting system by the finance department.
  • All employee expense report documents are filed away for reconciliation.

8. Incident Reports

Automation is the need for any organization with multiple teams. For instance, incident reports are common in companies with multiple teams and need to be submitted and dealt with immediately to tackle issues.

Such incidents need to be evaluated by different teams to check and assess the corrective steps that can be taken.

Doing this manually can be too overwhelming because such instances require quick sharing of information with the employees.

However, automating such incident reports makes information exchange much faster. This, in turn, minimizes any wastage of time and also allows employees to address various issues faster.

Here is an example of a typical incident workflow:

  • An incident is reported by the employee.
  • The reported incident is assessed by the first team.
  • The information is then sent to the department head by the first team.
  • A proper solution to the incident is identified.
  • A response team is created and assigned.
  • The incident team implements a solution and iterates the same until the incident is fully resolved.
  • The team then performs a compliance/risk assessment to prevent the incident from recurring in the future.

9. Email Campaign Workflow

A well-executed email campaign can bring in a lot of new prospects and revenue to your business. However, managing successful business campaigns can be very challenging for businesses.

Engaging with subscribers or customers that you wish to push further down the sales funnel requires a great deal of personalization. 

Automating the email workflow comes in handy here as it helps you save time and manage your prospects/customers better across multiple channels with tailored efforts to each campaign goal. 

For instance, an automated email campaign can be great for welcoming a prospect who has just subscribed to your blog. It will help you connect better with prospects and also allows you to take your relationship a little further by leading them to the content on your blog that they’re likely to engage with. 

A sample email campaign workflow looks like the below:

  • A new prospect or subscriber joins your email list.
  • The prospect receives a pre-written welcome email.
  • You can then check to see if any of the links in your welcome email were clicked.
  • Send another email with content personalized to their interests based on the links they clicked.

Final Thoughts 

A workflow is a detailed method of listing various repeatable steps or stages for a business process or activity.

The key highlight of the workflows mentioned in this post is that the steps typically have a specific flow or sequence from one stage to the next until the process is complete.

One of the main benefits of these workflows is that they bring uniformity to the process and allow everyone using them to complete the business process or activity the same way every time.

Having these workflows is especially useful within large workforces, as it helps streamline tasks involving multiple people, clearly lists who handles the tasks, and also indicates how long task completion should take.

Automate Your Workflows Using a Software

One of the ideal ways to manage your company workflows is through powerful and feature-rich software. Organizations that choose to invest in workflow automation attract significant long-term benefits with their day-to-day processes.

It allows you to streamline the task and gives a comprehensive view of all the workflows running at any given time.

Leveraging powerful workflow software such as Hubler's no-code DIY platform, you can easily automate everyday business workflows and get rid of manual, time-consuming tasks to make your workplace much more efficient. Get in touch with us to learn more.

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