What is a Business Workflow?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mandi Rogier
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A business workflow is a documentation of the processes that occur throughout the regular dealings of a company. This type of workflow is typically depicted using a chart that clearly indicates actions and results. Other information that may be included in a comprehensive workflow includes the individuals involved in each action and the documentation or resources needed for various tasks.

The basic format for a workflow involves several shapes such as ovals, rectangles, and diamonds in which various tasks or decisions are placed. Each shape corresponds with a specific type of information. These shapes are then connected with straight lines or arrows indicating the flow from one to another.

The purpose of most business workflows is to diagram the way that a company works in an easy-to-read format. This chart allows managers to assess the way the company is performing and determine how productive its methods are. Flaws in the process where time or resources are wasted can often be identified quickly in format of a workflow. These issues can then be addressed by preparing a new, more efficient business workflow to demonstrate the changes that need to be made.


Workflows can proceed in many ways. Some will indicate a single path of action. Each task clearly leads to the next until the process is completed. Other workflows allow for multiple end points. Decisions occur throughout the process that can lead in more than one direction. Depending on the number of decision points placed on the workflow, the chart may have several possible outcomes.

One purpose for business workflows is to determine the best way to integrate a company’s activities with software solutions. A detailed workflow can help to identify processes within the company that could benefit from the addition of computer systems and automation. Many software companies use this workflow to then develop a software system that is customized for the company in question. A business workflow is an easy way to identify the way a company works and what its needs will be.

In some cases, an outside company will perform a business workflow analysis for another establishment. The outside company will observe the daily functions of the establishment and analyze the way that business takes place. The company will then put together a detailed analysis of both the current workflow as well as proposed changes that may increase productivity and efficiency. An outside look can often reveal flaws that those inside the company are too close to see.



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