Defining and using workflows (BPM) in EDM

Learn what you can use workflow for in an EDRMS and what steps to take when defining workflow for an EDRMS.


What is workflow?

The term workflow can be broken down into two parts:

  1. Work = An activity towards the production or accomplishment of something, i.e., a goal.
  2. Flow = A course of successive events taken to achieve a goal or an outcome.

In Document Management, workflow is generally used as a process to route electronic documents between entities. Entities can be people, departments, companies, or systems. Workflow is sometimes also called Business Process Management (BPM).

Example: A Change Request document can be sent to several managers who must each sign the document before passing it on. Once the document has gone from manager to manager, it eventually winds up on the desk of the person who must implement the change. The process of passing the document between people can be seen as the workflow for the document.

It is recommended to integrate a workflow throughout the entire lifecycle of a document, that is, from beginning to end. And as is the case with document types and metadata, a workflow should mimic and follow the natural way people work with documents in an organization.

How to define workflows

Before implementing workflow, you must investigate how documents travel around an organization. You should work with individuals who use the documents in their day-to-day tasks, and determine how the documents pass from individuals or departments in the organization.

Once you've gathered this information, you can use a diagram to define individual tasks and stages that describe the flow of documents. This method of defining and depicting a workflow is called Workflow Process Mapping.

How can you use workflow in SharePoint?

You can design workflows in SharePoint to archive and route documents, and copy documents from one user to another or from one SharePoint library to another.

Workflows in SharePoint allow you to implement business processes on documents, forms, Web pages, and list items. Workflows can be made available on content types, lists, or document libraries.

Workflow in SharePoint will be discussed in greater detail in future articles.

Final words

Workflow allows an organization to tie business processes, documents, and people together. It also allows an organization to track, audit, and report on every task or job that is included in the workflow.

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