DEFINITION of 'Workflow'

A series of tasks to produce a desired outcome, usually involving multiple participants and several stages in an organization. Workflow describes the sequential steps that comprise a work process in the business environment. In its most comprehensive form, workflow includes the procedures, people and tools involved in each step of a business process. Workflow may either be sequential, with each step contingent upon completion of the previous one, or parallel, with multiple steps occurring simultaneously.


A number of workflow improvement theories have been advanced since the concept was first propounded. These include Six Sigma and total quality management, which have been embraced by organizations around the world.

For example, the manufacturing of a car through various stages on the design, shop floor assembly, to quality verification. Workflow could also include the processing of loan applications by a bank or insurance claims by an insurer, and the editing and production processes at a daily newspaper.

  1. Total Quality Management - TQM

    The continuous process of reducing or eliminating errors in manufacturing, ...
  2. Project Management

    The planning and organization of an organization's resources ...
  3. Gantt Chart

    A Gantt chart is a visual representation of a project schedule. ...
  4. Six Sigma

    A quality-control program developed in 1986 by Motorola. Initially, ...
  5. Order Management System - OMS

    An electronic system developed to execute securities orders in ...
  6. Deliverables

    A project management term for the quantifiable goods or services ...
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Two Roads: Debt Or Financial Independence?

    A higher income won't make you richer - unless you learn to live on less.
  2. Professionals

    Is Your Investment Manager Skilled Or Lucky?

    Being familiar with composite presentations will help you better assess the quality of an investment manager's performance.
  3. Home & Auto

    Wheels Of A Future Fortune

    Buy a quality car without driving your expenses through the roof.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    The Financial Characteristics Of A Successful Company

    There are many factors that contribute to a profitable business. Find out what they are here.
  5. Investing Basics

    What Does In Specie Mean?

    In specie describes the distribution of an asset in its physical form instead of cash.
  6. Economics

    Understanding Production Efficiency

    Production efficiency is the point at which an economy cannot increase output of a good or service without lowering the production of another product.
  7. Economics

    Understanding Bad Debt

    Bad debt is money a company or lender is owed, but is unable to collect.
  8. Economics

    Explaining Synergy

    Synergy is the concept of combining two or more entities to create something greater than either entity on its own.
  9. Economics

    What Does Short Run Mean?

    Short run is the concept that for a business, at least one factor of production is fixed while others are variable.
  10. Economics

    What's Involved in Quality Management?

    Essentially, quality management entails overseeing all activities and tasks needed to maintain excellence.
  1. Does working capital include inventory?

    A company's working capital includes inventory, and increases in inventory make working capital increase. Working capital ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How can I calculate funds from operation in Excel?

    In general, the terms "work in progress" and "work in process" are used interchangeably to refer to products midway through ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. When does Q4 start and finish?

    Most companies such as Facebook have financial years that end on December 31st. For these companies, the fourth quarter begins ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. When is it useful to look at a company's fixed asset turnover ratio?

    It is useful to look at a company's fixed asset turnover ratio when an outside observer, such as an investor, wants to know ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between perfect and imperfect competition?

    Perfect competition is a microeconomics concept that describes a market structure controlled entirely by market forces. In ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How difficult is it to understand business analytics?

    In the abstract, business analytics is the study of financial, economic, consumer and production data through statistical ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!