Guide To Workflow: Definition, Components, Processes and Uses

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 6 October 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Workflows, also known as work processes and task flows, can improve business operations in almost every industry and they're especially important for roles involving project management. Creating work processes for some of your procedures and activities at work can help you better manage time and increase your productivity, consistency and efficiency. To master this, it's important that you learn about the components of a task flow and how you can use them. In this article, we explain what a workflow is, list the main elements of successful ones and explore why using them is important.

Related: Project Manager Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

What is a workflow?

A workflow is a process of listing steps you repeat to complete certain processes or activities. They guide you through complicated business processes so you can achieve your desired outcomes. The biggest benefit of using these systems is that everyone using them completes an activity the same way every time, which maximises the team's potential and creates clear standards within a company. This is especially useful if you work in a large organisation because it allows for the streamlining of tasks involving multiple people.

For example, HR managers may want to use work processes to establish how the organisation approaches onboarding for new employees. This allows them to make sure new employees don't miss any important details during the hiring process. It's also useful because it helps new employees better understand their role in the company and makes it easier for them to adjust to their new work environment.

Related: What is workflow management? (Complete Guide)

What are the components of a workflow?

Designing a task flow requires that you know how to organise a process to make it easy to understand for all employees who perform certain activities. A successful task flow typically includes three elements. These include:

Input

When developing a work process, you may start by focusing on the input. The term 'input' refers to anything that you or others can use to take action and complete a step in a process. Some good examples of this are materials or resources that you'd use to achieve a specific goal, such as time, effort and money. For example, if you're designing the onboarding process for a company, the input for your task flow could include new employees submitting paperwork that the company requests.

Transformation

The next component of most work processes is transformation. This refers to the rules, guidelines or directions that inform people how to use resources to achieve the desired outcome. For instance, in the example of the onboarding process, transformation occurs when the company starts processing the new employee's paperwork.

Output

In a work process, the output is usually the result of the input and transformation. For example, the term 'output' could refer to the company accepting a new hire's paperwork during onboarding. It's important to note that sometimes, especially when the task flow you're developing is a complex process, the output could serve as the input for the next step in the process.

Why is this type of process important?

Task flow management allows you to create clear step-by-step guides and to-do lists to ensure everyone you work with knows how to approach certain processes. This can streamline the completion of tasks. Here's how using these processes may help you at work:

  • Improves business operations: Task flows are one of the easiest ways to improve business operations. By using them, you can clearly explain even the most complex activities and processes, which may improve efficiency and effectiveness within your team or organisation.

  • Eliminates redundant actions: Having a clear to-do list allows you to focus on meaningful actions and tasks. An effective work process eliminates redundant actions because it guides you through the process and allows you to use the most effective methods of achieving your desired goal.

  • Reduces cost and expenses: When developing a task flow, you typically test out the best way of doing things first. Creating a clear step-by-step guide is helpful in reducing resources, such as costs and time, that someone may need while completing certain actions.

  • Creates automated processes: One of the main goals of task flows is to create automated processes, which may help you create higher standards for your employer.

  • Educates team members: Educating team members is essential to making sure they can perform up to your employer's standards. Designing processes and to-do lists can help you show co-workers what the employer requires from them.

  • Increases productivity: Work processes help people better understand their assignments and can help inform employees on how and when to complete them. They eliminate confusion, which ultimately results in increased productivity of individual employees and entire teams.

  • Introduces consistency: Introducing standards to processes typically results in more consistent results within an organisation. This means that an effective task flow can help you not only improve the quality of work for your team, it can also make sure that work stays consistent.

Who uses workflows?

Work processes are an essential element of many industries to ensure all parties have a comprehensive understanding of what employers expect of them. For this reason, they're especially important for fields and roles in which effective project management is important. Here are the industries that typically benefit from the use of task flows:

  • E-commerce: E-commerce professionals may use task flows to optimise the customer journey. With carefully developed processes, they can successfully attract new leads and turn them into returning customers.

  • IT companies: Work processes help IT companies establish each step in their standard projects. They help teams brainstorm, wireframe, design concepts, write applications and launch products.

  • Education: Education organisations and facilities may use this effective project management tool to communicate with aspiring students. For example, a university may use task flows and diagrams to guide students through the application, registration and enrolment processes.

  • Healthcare: If you work in healthcare, you may consider designing processes that would help with setting standards for patient care and explain their journey, from scheduling appointments to arrival and receiving results.

Examples of work processes

Using task flows to organise your work is a good idea, regardless of your position or the field you're in. It's a universal tool that allows you to improve how others perform certain tasks. Here are some examples of how you can use work processes:

Employee onboarding

It's common for hiring managers to use work process management software for developing various recruitment processes within a company, including onboarding. Employee onboarding processes help you ensure new employees know what to do during their first days at the company and understand what's important in the hiring process. They also help companies keep track of the new employees' progress and ensure their quick adjustment to the team.

Related: How To Build a Successful Team: A Step-By-Step Guide

Customer support

Customer support task flows allow companies to ensure that support agents can provide quick and consistent answers to common customer service questions. Customers who have a positive experience and receive excellent customer service are more likely to spend more money and become recurring customers. When customer service representatives receive unusual or challenging questions from customers, they can contribute to the process by adding those questions to the task flow. This way, the next time someone else asks the same question, another representative knows how to answer it properly.

Related: What Is Customer Satisfaction?

Customer onboarding

Similarly to customer service, customer onboarding task flows allow companies to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. Once a customer signs up for a company's service or product, they may become recurring customers if they see the value of the product or services. Work processes of this type allow e-commerce teams to observe where the customer is in the process and improve their experience if needed.

Content promotion

You can consider using task flows for many projects, including content promotion. If you run a brand and repeat many of your promotional strategies with success, you may establish a step-by-step guide to increase the possibility of your future campaigns succeeding. Introducing specific processes to these tasks may help you save some time, which you can spend interacting with your audience by reacting to their comments and messages.

Content marketing

If you want your content to rank high in search engine results, you may ensure that it meets specific requirements. As there are many requirements that you'd want it to meet, creating a content marketing task flow allows you to organise your processes and ensure your content meets all SEO conditions. Common checklist items that you may see in content marketing task flows include:

  • use a headline with a high-volume keyword

  • create over 2,000 words of content

  • ensure subheadings focus on keywords

  • check that each section has an image

  • use alternative texts for images

  • check grammar and spelling

  • publish the content

  • build at least five backlinks

  • promote the content on social media

  • have others share the content

  • run paid ads to promote the content


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