You know how we used to draw flowcharts and connect them with arrows and symbols during our school and college days, that is exactly what I have been doing these days too.

BUT

I get paid for that! (jokes on you Mr 8th grade teacher). We call them flowcharts as workflows now and guess what, businesses use these to get their job done.

So what do we exactly use them for?

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To map out what happens and how it happens.

In the previous workflow image, the initiator is ‘sleep’ and then next step in the process is ‘alarm’. The next process after the alarm is an ‘if’ function, so if it is a working day get up if not groan and go back to sleep cursing your alarm. This is called a linear workflow, because your sleep may or may not be triggered by an external source (like someone hitting you with a baseball bat).

Enough of that alarm

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Now here’s how a sample recruitment workflow process looks like:

Recruitment-workflow-diagram

This also a linear workflow sample where the initiator is an external source in this case the person who give an headache to the HR. But it is also missing a couple of other functions such as ‘what happens when a candidate rejects an offer’ ‘what happens at salary negotiations’ etc.

There is also another type of workflow called the ‘looped’ workflow where the initiator is the completion of the final task, you know, it’s looped.

You get the point right?

Workflows are managed by two tools, flowcharts and process maps. Both use symbols and arrows to visually portray a workflow, but process maps may also document the stages and functions.

Now, there softwares that take care of workflows (there’s a software for everything today) it is called a ‘Workflow Management Software’.

The sole purpose of the software is to automate processes wherever it is needed, because somethings are better when left to the robots. These softwares are made to make the lives of humans easy by taking care of monotonous processes. Thus reducing the risk of failure and improving the efficiency and productivity.

 

So, if you have understood workflow now, well…

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