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.

BREAKING DOWN 'Workflow'

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.

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