What is workflow management - and how can you benefit from it?

Workflow management and process mapping, business process management (BPM) and operational excellence: the basic prerequisite for operational efficiency is the optimisation of workflows - a topic that more and more companies are addressing in view of the growing cost and time pressure. This is also shown by the large number of participants in our live webinar "Managing workflows cleverly" at the end of April.

The importance of workflow management for service providers

The process landscape of agencies and service providers is complex and consists of a wide variety of sub-processes, from the entry of a new lead in CRM to project controlling. Processes often do not end at team or department boundaries, i.e. it is not enough to optimise the individual workflows, but the various sub-areas must also mesh intelligently and smoothly. The goal is a seamless "Quote to Cash" process chain.

Advantages of Workflow Management

  • Higher process quality: Precisely defined processes reduce the error rate and deviations can be identified more quickly in digitised processes - often even in real time.
  • Time savings: The processing time of regularly recurring processes can be accelerated - both internally and in customer contact.
  • Better cooperation: The sections of the overall process mesh like cogs and friction losses at team and departmental boundaries are minimised.
  • Cost reduction: Fewer errors, accelerated processes and better communication help to reduce costs and thus increase overall efficiency in the company.

It is therefore worthwhile to question how well your daily work is organised: Which processes still have weak points and which procedures can be simplified, standardised, digitalised and, in the best case, automated?

Definitions in workflow management

Process vs workflow ...

  • A business process is made up of individual small work steps to achieve a certain (business) goal within a company. The process defines "what" has to be done on a relatively rough level.

  • A workflow, on the other hand, aims at an optimal coordination of processes and therefore defines very precise work instructions ("what-who-when-how") to support employees in efficient processing or to define exact specifications for automated processing.

... and Workflow Management vs Business Process Management

Strictly speaking, the two terms workflow management and business process management (BPM) also have different focuses:

  • Business Process Management deals with the strategic orientation of processes and their integration into the company. It is therefore not only about the efficiency of individual processes, but the view of the entire organisation should be sharpened - for example with regard to operational excellence.

  • Workflow management models, controls and records workflows with the aim of optimising processes by analysing, planning and coordinating work steps. In contrast to BPM, the section under consideration is smaller, but professional workflow management is a prerequisite for successful business process management.

Workflow management optimises the operational level, business process management the strategic level. In linguistic usage, however, the terms are usually not so scientifically delineated - in this article we also use the term workflow management for both the micro and the macro level.

ERP software as support for workflow management

IT systems such as ERP software support efficient workflow management because they model processes and ensure that the right steps are carried out in the right order by the right people.

Many sub-steps are digitised, inputs are automatically checked and data is exchanged between processes - for example, by converting items from a quotation into project to-dos with one click or transferring them to an outgoing invoice.

Experience has shown that a great deal of efficiency potential lies in precisely these seamless transitions between different areas of responsibility and teams. Our consulting workshops during implementation are therefore not only about defining fixed project steps, but also about linking all individual processes into a coherent process chain.

We would like to present an exemplary "big picture" for a better understanding.


Example of an IT-supported project workflow in PROAD

The following example from our webinar is based on a typical project from the everyday life of a service provider - here the order for organizing a press conference.

We skip the project step of lead generation and assume a project for an existing customer.



Step 1: Project creation & budgeting

We create a new project in PROAD, enter the relevant basic data ...


... and budget the project by assigning the priced service types to the calculated hourly expenditure, here for example copywriting, consulting, project management etc.

This also results directly in a target/actual comparison that is automatically updated during the course of the project.

Step 2: Offer

Now we can create a quotation for our client within minutes by transferring the calculated services of the project into the quotation mask.

Step 3: Project planning

It is now just as easy to get started with project planning as it is to create tasks directly from the quotation items.

Step 4: Project implementation

Team members immediately see the newly received tasks in their dashboard.

Every time spent can be directly assigned to the respective task via the time recording window that is open in parallel - with real-time control of whether the recorded time is within the planned time quota (here marked in red a time overrun for the task "Project Management").

For the external services planned in the budgeting (here the purchase of the event location), an order can be triggered with a few mouse clicks.

Upon receipt of the invoice for the photographic material, the invoice is checked and matched with the order ...

The current project status can be displayed at any time, including project progress, completed tasks, time budget used, external services, material costs, etc.

Step 5: Billing

When invoicing the customer, either the actual expenses incurred or the calculated expenses from the offer are selected ...

Step 6: Project controlling

In addition to the ongoing calculation, which makes deviations visible at an early stage, important "lessons learned" for follow-up projects and other project teams can be derived from a detailed analysis of the completed projects.


Workflows with efficiency potential for service providers

From our kick-off meetings, experience has shown that there are numerous workflows that benefit from digitalisation and automation.

Examples from everyday life at service providers

  • Creating new leads in the CRM and maintaining a digital contact history throughout the entire customer journey.
  • Onboarding new employees (maintaining master data, filing important personnel documents, logging items handed out such as keys, checklists for HR staff, automatically reminding the new employee of tasks, etc.)
  • Checking and approving leave requests
  • Organisation of customer support with the help of a ticket system
  • Faster access to required documents through digital attachments to projects, tasks and customers
  • Transparent assignment of tasks and scheduling of project progress - including flexible adjustments in case of changes in the project
  • Invoicing and dunning
  • Processing of incoming invoices - if required with integrated invoice verification (comparison with the order and release according to the 4-eyes principle)
  • Reporting and controlling

Would you like to know how you can further optimise your workflows with PROAD? Our workflow management specialists will be happy to advise you!