What is 'Workflow'

Workflow describes the steps in a business work process, through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion; and how these steps can be executed and automated according to a set of procedural rules.

Organizations use workflow to coordinate tasks, with the aim of improving organizational efficiency, responsiveness and profitability. 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'

The concept of workflow was important to the study of the rational organization of work and optimizing manufacturing or informational processes – to avoid bottlenecks. After WW2, a number of workflow improvement theories were developed by the quality movement, which embraced more qualitative notions of business process re-engineering. These philosophies could be applied to car assembly lines, a loan application by a bank, or the production of a newspaper.

Six Sigma and Total quality management (TQM), are two process improvement philosophies that have been embraced by organizations around the world. TQM is a structured approach to overall organizational management where internal guidelines and process standards reduce errors. The goal of Six Sigma is to reduce defects through quality control.

Workflow Technologies and Big Data

Workflow technologies and management systems are being used today in industries as wide ranging as finance, healthcare, marketing and higher education. They have been fundamental to the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, that are having a big impact on corporate workflows in every industry, thanks to their ability to process and extract value from big data.

By gathering and sharing data across an organization, and embedding analytics, enterprise data management systems are being used to eliminate information silos and optimize business processes and automate data processing. And this is helping to connect previously disconnected sectors and industries.

Finance is being transformed by big data, which is being used for both trading and compliance. Investors are tapping into the flood of real time data produced by global digitalization and social media, and experimenting with enhanced data analytics and AI to generate investment ideas – free of cognitive bias — and manage risk.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Business Logic

    Custom rules or algorithms that handle the exchange of information ...
  2. Lean Six Sigma

    Lean Six Sigma is a team-focused managerial approach that seeks ...
  3. Business Process Redesign - BPR

    Business Process Redesign is the overhaul of central business ...
  4. Brokerage Supervisor

    A brokerage company employee who appoints, trains and manages ...
  5. Data Science

    Data science is a field of Big Data which seeks to provide meaningful ...
  6. Information Management Technology ...

    Information management technology is the distribution, organization ...
Related Articles
  1. Small Business

    7 Ways You Are Preventing Employee Productivity

    Avoiding these seven employee productivity traps can help improve the performance of your business.
  2. Tech

    How Big Data Has Changed Finance

    The vast proliferation of data and increasing technological complexities continues to transform the way industries operate and compete.
  3. Investing

    3 Big Ways to Assess Your Investment Manager

    Find out whether your funds are being managed according to your goals.
  4. Tech

    Predictive Analytics Drives Return for Investors

    A new industry of predictive analysis has developed to make sense of big data and give investors real-time buy and sell recommendations based on the patterns forming in the data long before traditional ...
  5. Tech

    The Importance of Healthcare Risk Management

    Risk management is especially important in healthcare because human lives might be on the line. Here are some strategies to map out a plan.
  6. Tech

    Get Approved for a Mortgage in an Hour

    The traditional mortgage approval process takes 2-4 weeks, but tech companies have reduced the time to get approved for a mortgage to less than one hour.
  7. Financial Advisor

    MoneyProGuide: A Peek at the New Version

    MoneyGuidePro has become one of the most popular software systems for financial advisors. Here's a quick look at the product's latest iteration.
  8. Investing

    9 Cognitive Biases That Affect Your Business

    Human beings often act irrationally when it comes to business decisions. Behavioral finance explains the difference between what we should do and what we do.
  9. Tech

    Will Your Job Get Eaten by Automation?

    With the rapid growth of technology, it has been widely contested whether automation will start to replace jobs.
  10. Investing

    Do Your Research When Using an Active Manager

    When it comes to using active managers for your portfolio, it pays to do your research.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the most important type of data used in business analytics?

    Consider what makes data useful in business analytics, and why companies should search for the types of data that provide ... Read Answer >>
  2. How difficult is it to understand business analytics?

    Find out what it takes to understand the method of business analytics, and how to start a career through one of its many ... Read Answer >>
  3. How can I calculate funds from operation in Excel?

    Understand how the terms ''work in progress'' and ''work in process'' are used interchangeably to refer to items in the middle ... Read Answer >>
  4. What impact has robotic production had on profitability in the automotive sector?

    Learn more about the efficiencies and improved profitability created in automotive companies by the use of robotic technologies. ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Treasury Yield

    Treasury yield is the return on investment, expressed as a percentage, on the U.S. government's debt obligations.
  2. Return on Assets - ROA

    Return on assets (ROA) is an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets.
  3. Fibonacci Retracement

    A term used in technical analysis that refers to areas of support (price stops going lower) or resistance (price stops going ...
  4. Ethereum

    Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables SmartContracts and Distributed Applications (ĐApps) to be built ...
  5. Cryptocurrency

    A digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of ...
  6. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority - FINRA

    A regulatory body created after the merger of the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange's ...
Trading Center