6 Workflow Types: Examples, Pros and Cons

6 Workflow Types: Examples, Pros and Cons

Mukul Bhati

12
 min read
6 Workflow Types: Examples, Pros and Cons6 Workflow Types: Examples, Pros and Cons
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12
 min read
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Are you in search of ways how you can improve your business operations or productivity through effective management? One of the strongest weapons in your productivity arsenal you know is the ability to automate workflow and step up to the next level. Various types of possible workflows, including project workflows, case workflows, and process workflows exist but how would you decide which type is better suited for the particular needs of one’s organization?

Many organizations when they start implementing a large number of workflows face this same question. Indeed, deciding on the proper source type is one of the vital prerequisites for effective automation. Choose the wrong one might get yourself into implementing a solution that isn’t quite right for your processes, employees will become frustrated, processes will remain lengthened and what not.

In this blog post, we’ll explain the various workflow types in detail with advantages and disadvantages. You’ll also be able to know the essential aspects needed while choosing the most suitable workflow strategy for your business. 

So, whether you're just starting to explore workflow automation or you're looking to optimize an existing system, this blog post will provide you with the insights and guidance you need to make an informed decision.

What is a Workflow?

A workflow refers to the way people or businesses get works done. It consists of an orchestrated and repeatable series of tasks aimed at accomplishing a specific outcome. Workflows are initiated and supported by the organization's resources and processes.

Types of Workflows

1. Project Workflows

Project workflows are intended for effective control over complex projects. They include preparing an exhaustive list of all the project deliverables and then mapping out a chain of activities, showing which activities are necessary and what sequence they should be accomplished in. Project workflows are especially helpful for complex projects, because on the one hand, they allow you to see the project from above, as it were, and, on the other hand, reveal possible critical paths.

Advantages of Project Workflows:

  • Improved visibility and coordination across the project team
  • Ability to identify and address potential roadblocks early on

Disadvantages of Project Workflows:

  • Workflows may not be easily replicable from one project to another
  • Requires upfront planning and documentation to be effective

Example: New Product Development Workflow

Sample activities that can find application in a project workflow for the new product development undertaking include market analysis, idea generation, model creation, product evaluation, and the actual release of the new product into the market. By outlining this workflow, the project team will complete all the tasks and subtasks in the right order while finding any potential delays or dependencies that could impact the overall timeline.

2. Case Workflows

Cases are used where there is a solution or where a problem needs to be addressed such as new IT help desk tickets or customer support tickets. Unlike other types of workflows, case workflows are not orderly, meaning they do not follow a sequential order. However, each case may not be managed in the same way but may depend on the type of problem in a particular setting.

Advantages of Case Workflows:

  • Flexibility to handle a wide range of issues and exceptions
  • Ability to adapt the workflow as new information or requirements emerge
  • Improved responsiveness to customer or employee needs

Disadvantages of Case Workflows:

  • Lack of predictability and standardization in the workflow process
  • Potential for inconsistencies in how similar cases are handled

Example: Customer Support Workflow

An example of a case for a customer support team could be problem solving which contains processes like issue identification, solution search, and conflict resolution. However, the actual further route the process would achieve would be contingent upon the type of problem a customer may have and the materials he inputs. By doing it ensures that the support team is able to handle each case as appropriate while following a recommended procedure.

3. Process Workflows

Process workflows are the types of workflow automation used to depict repetitive, predictable tasks. They illustrate how tasks are performed and which departments are responsible for handling them. Process workflows also spell out what should occur if there's a problem within the process.

Advantages of Process Workflows:

  • Increased efficiency and consistency in executing repetitive tasks
  • Improved visibility and accountability across the organization
  • Ability to identify and address process bottlenecks or inefficiencies

Disadvantages of Process Workflows:

  • Potential for rigidity and lack of flexibility in handling exceptions
  • Requires ongoing maintenance and updates as processes evolve

Example: Accounts Payable Workflow

Accounts payable is a business process that involves receipt of invoices, data input and approval, payment execution and documentation, or recordkeeping. With this situation outlined, the finance team is well-placed to define how invoices should pass through the different stages in a business while adhering to company guidelines on roles and authorization levels. It draws some work, helps to avoid mistakes, and simplifies the functioning of the accounts payable department as well as the general financial performance.

Read Also: Robotic Process Automation in Financial Services

4. Parallel Workflows

The type of workflow where multiple tasks can be performed in co-incidence. For example, when the HR department is onboarding a new employee, they can simultaneously request software and hardware assets from the IT team and request other paperwork, signatures, and contract-related documents from the finance and legal team.

Sometimes, these workflows can also depend on each other. Parallel workflows work best for simple projects where you can divide the main task into independent sub-tasks. Also, in case of delay from any sub-tasks, it wouldn’t disturb the other tasks.

Advantages of Parallel Workflows:

  • Increased efficiency and reduced time-to-completion
  • Ability to leverage the expertise and resources of multiple teams
  • Enhanced collaboration and cross-functional coordination

Disadvantages of Parallel Workflows:

  • Potential for increased complexity in managing dependencies and handoffs
  • Requires clear communication and coordination to ensure alignment

Example: New Hire Onboarding Workflow

An example of a parallel workflow to the onboarding process could be the initiation of background checks, IT account creation for the new hire, completion of HR forms, and various tasks that may be specific to the department of the employee. The effectiveness of onboarding new clients and employees is determined by these tasks that should be performed concurrently as they allow the organization to provide faster and more efficient services, while at the same time guaranteeing that new employees get the same experience as the others.

5. Rules-Driven Workflow

In the list of types of workflow automation, Rule-driven Workflow comes next. In this type of workflow, there is a high amount of directivity obtained from the rules and conditions governing the tasks. Sustaining this type of workflow is ideal for procedures that will need the application of criteria to come up with decisions. For instance in loan approval and disbursement, every application is triggered to the next stage of evaluation using rules like credit score, income, and credit-to-income ratio.

Advantages of  Rules-Driven Workflow:

  • They help maintain order by similarly addressing similar cases reducing errors and inconsistencies.
  • As cases increase, rules-driven workflows can scale up without compromising quality.

Disadvantages of  Rules-Driven Workflow:

  • Rules-driven workflows can be rigid and need help to adapt to changing requirements or handle exceptions that fall outside the predefined rules.
  • Rules-driven workflows may not be able to handle cases that fall outside the predefined rules, requiring manual intervention.

Example- Loan Approval Process

In a loan approval process, the use of a rules-driven workflow to define the decision-making on criteria within a loan application. To illustrate, the workflow accumulated the applicant’s details, including credit score, income, and DTI (debt-to-income ratio). These would be compared to specified criteria such as the credit score of the applicant, debt-to-income ratio, and income required. As a result of this evaluation, the workflow would be to either approve the specific loan, seek for further details, or reject the loan application to facilitate better and more organized decision-making.

6. State Machine workflow

In a state machine workflow, the process can change based on the current state of a task. This type of workflow is highly flexible and can adapt to varying conditions and inputs. State machine workflows are beneficial in scenarios where the process path can change based on different conditions, such as customer service workflows where the next steps depend on customer responses.

Advantages of  State Machine workflow :

  • This type of workflow can adapt to changing conditions and handle exceptions more easily than sequential workflows.
  • It can handle increasing volumes of cases without compromising performance.

Disadvantages of  State Machine workflow :

  • The designing and implementing of state machine workflows can be a little complex because it requires specialized knowledge and tools.
  • State machine workflow maintenance and updating can be challenging, as changes in one part of the workflow can have unintended consequences in other parts.

Example  of  State Machine workflow :

A customer service ticketing system can benefit from a state machine workflow, where the process can adapt based on the current state of the ticket. In case the customer files a support request for his issue, the ticket would be in the state of ‘Open’. Depending on the type of the problem raised, the ticket goes through different states like ‘Assigned to agent’, ‘Awaiting customer response’, and ‘Resolved.’

Each state possesses actions carried out by the workflow like notifying the agent assigned to process the ticket, notifying the customer about a follow-up response, and closing the ticket once it is solved respectively. This facility ensures that the customer service team can easily address an open-ended list of problems without compromising the management of each case.

Well, are workflow and process the same? 

Although workflows and work processes and other related terms are used in a similar way, they have different meanings. A workflow can be described as a series of actions or steps that individuals or groups of individuals follow to achieve duties at the workplace, while a process is broader and more all-encompassing, supporting a business goal.

Read Also: How To Do Workflow Automation for Your Startup 

What are the workflow problems you could encounter?

A workflow consists of a series of steps that need to follow a defined progression. While systematically, this can seem straightforward, there are a number of workflow obstacles one could come across.

Some of the common workflow problems are as follows:

  • Inability to delegate
  • Redundancies and bottlenecks
  • Lack of accountability
  • Overshooting deadlines
  • Inadequate collaboration
  • Not accounting for ad-hoc requests Manual errors

Benefits of Workflow Automation

Workflow automation offers several benefits, including:

  • Improved operational efficiency
  • Reduced costs
  • Better decision-making
  • Enhanced collaboration and communication
  • Scalability and flexibility

Hook: Use Nected to build Advanced Workflows.

Conclusion

When it comes to streamlining your business operations, the right workflow could make all the difference. It's like finding the best pair of footwear - you need something that not only seems remarkable but additionally feels snug and supports each step.

Throughout this blog, we have explored different workflows - from project-primarily based to case-pushed to process-oriented. Each one has its very own precise traits, blessings, and disadvantages. 

Are you coping with complex, multi-step initiatives? Then a challenging workflow might be your go-to. Dealing with dynamic, exception-based totally situations? A case workflow may be your best choice. 

And let's recap about parallel workflows and event-pushed workflows. These specialized methods can deliver their personal specific blessings, whether it's leveraging the energy of simultaneous execution or responding agilely to actual-time modifications.

And with the help of effective automation systems like Nected, you could easily enforce and personalize the right workflow within your organization. Your route to operational excellence is only a step away.

FAQ

Q1. Can you combine different workflow types within an organization?

Yes, organizations often use a mix of workflow types to address their diverse business needs and processes.

Q2. What factors should you consider when choosing the right workflow type?

Key factors include process characteristics, degree of variability, collaboration requirements, visibility needs, scalability, and regulatory/compliance requirements.

Q3. How can workflow automation platforms like Nected help implement the right workflow solutions?

Automation platforms provide the tools and flexibility to configure and customize workflows to fit an organization's unique needs.

Q4. Can workflows be easily modified or updated once implemented?

The ease of modifying workflows depends on the specific platform and tools used. Many workflow automation solutions offer the flexibility to adapt workflows to changing business needs.

Mukul Bhati

Mukul Bhati

Co-founder Nected
Co-founded FastFox in 2016, which later got acquired by PropTiger (Housing’s Parent). Ex-Knowlarity, UrbanTouch, PayU.

Mukul Bhati, Co-founder of Nected and IITG CSE 2008 graduate, previously launched BroEx and FastFox, which was later acquired by Elara Group. He led a 50+ product and technology team, designed scalable tech platforms, and served as Group CTO at Docquity, building a 65+ engineering team. With 15+ years of experience in FinTech, HealthTech, and E-commerce, Mukul has expertise in global compliance and security.

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