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How Do I Choose the Best Workflow Model?

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  • Written By: Jan Fletcher
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Choosing the best workflow model requires an understanding of the type of tasks required in the workflow. Workflow models include sequential, state, flexible, enterprise, automated, and creative workflow systems. Each model is designed to accomplish a different set of workflow tasks by using modes of decision-making in accomplishing those tasks. Your choice will be determined by the decision tree used in the workflow model and the degree of collaborative actions required to complete workflow tasks. A decision tree charts the pattern of decisions made in the workflow process, with the resulting graphic frequently appearing as branches of a tree.

Sequential workflow models are used when choices are restricted to work tasks that must be done in a specified sequence. For example, an assembly line worker completes one task. That worker must pass that completed task on to the next worker, who adds an additional workflow task to the assembly process, and so on. Once the worker in a sequential workflow system completes a task and moves it forward, that worker's responsibility returns to replicating his or her task. This model may also be referred to as an automated workflow, particularly if there are specified processes and outcomes that must be done on a fairly inflexible basis.

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State workflow models are employed when events are the main drivers of the process. Workers are allowed an either-or choice for completion of the next task, which could be any one of a number of alternatives. This allows some worker-driven choices to be used in the workflow process. A flexible workflow model is even more open. In this workflow model, unique circumstances may be factored into the workflow, allowing an operation to be run in order to complete a unique operation.

An enterprise workflow model accommodates collaborative tasks. A variation of the enterprise workflow is a creative workflow model. Creative workflows support flexibility in accomplishing work tasks, and may be used by workgroups, connected through networked platforms to share information among the group members. A large company may have several workflow models used in various operations throughout the firm.

Workflow analysis may be the responsibility of a workflow manager. Sometimes this responsibility is referred to as an implementation specialist, or a business process engineer. Tasks are analyzed as to the character and nature of the executions required. The appropriate workflow model is then tailored to meet the specific needs of the company or organization.

Business process re-engineering is the effort to improve the workflow process. As such, workflow models may be modified to accommodate improved efficiencies in the workflow. Your original choice of a workflow model may change over time.

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