What Is an IT Workflow?

H. Bliss

An information technology (IT) workflow is a set of steps designed to address issues and solve problems faced by an IT department. Most commonly, the IT workflow is the process the IT department at a company uses to process requests for assistance that come through the department. A well-designed workflow can help make sure that all requests for help are answered and completed and that the workflow is assigned evenly and to the most qualified member of the department. Poorly designed or absent workflow management can cause service problems and service delays.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

When clients call IT for help, they want to be confident that their concerns will be addressed efficiently. A poorly designed workflow in the IT department is readily apparent, as mismanaged workflow often leads to unanswered calls and emails and unfinished requests. This type of bad workflow can render an IT department a liability to a company, as the longer a caller waits for IT, the longer it takes for the caller to do his appointed job.

One system an IT department might use to manage its workflow is called a workflow managing system. These types of systems can be software programs designed to streamline workflow efficiency, or they can be pen-and-paper systems that help keep track of a small load of workflow. Common features in IT workflow systems include functions that schedule IT workflow events, like appointments or repair visits, employee-work-schedule systems, and systems that keep track of which worker in the department worked on which IT requests.

With cranky, impatient, and desperate customers, in many ways, an IT department can be like a restaurant. Like hungry customers, those contacting a department for IT help have a request that seems to them to be the most urgent request in the world. A need for IT workflow arises when a department is faced with a flood of such requests piling up, each more urgent than the last. A good IT workflow system can make sure that no customers are forgotten in the shuffle, and that tasks related to their requests are followed through to completion.

Strong systems for IT workflow are vital in any large or busy IT department. Left without an efficient IT workflow plan, a department and its workers can easily become overwhelmed with a request backlog that has gotten out of hand. This can make an IT worker feel like a chef buried in an eternal lineup of unfilled food tickets as one request after another is lost or unnecessarily delayed by an inefficient system. Managing IT workflow efficiently can change a backed up department into an IT help force that completes orders like a perfectly run gourmet kitchen.

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