What is Workflow Software?
According to Wikipedia, a workflow management system “provides an infrastructure for the set-up, performance and monitoring of a defined sequence of tasks”. The words themselves are usually enough to give a good idea of what it is, but there is an actual industry standard that defines what is or is not a workflow system.
image: when workflow is designed correctly, the result ticks along beautifully
Workflow software has been around long enough that there are actual international groups that define standards for what they do. For example, the Workflow Management Coalition was set up in 1993 by IBM, HP, Fujitsu and about 300 other software companies.
A workflow system is broken down into abstracted categories of system:
This is the part that most people think of when they mean workflow – it defines the order in which jobs happen, and moves information from job to job as needed. In FieldMotion, we define these sequences using the onComplete logic system and through “sources” in the form fields.
In a fully automated system this takes the role of a manager, dividing work out among workers so that no-one is under-utilised. In FieldMotion, this is handled through the Dynamic Scheduler.
This makes sure that there are no clashes – that people are not asked to do two jobs at the same time, etc. Our dynamic scheduler handles this automatically, but we also make this visually obvious in our Timeline view of jobs, where you can easily see overlaps.
The agents are the “workers” of the system. In a field service application, the agents are the engineers that are out doing the work.
In a system that has some artificial intelligence built in, the “assistant” is an AI system that will offer hints as to what should be done, based on insight from the other data in the system. FieldMotion’s Dynamic Scheduler is an assistant system, as it offers a suggested order of events based on information such as geographic location of the jobs, the category of work and the skills each worker has, the the hours the worker is active, etc.
The original definition of Workflow Management System was defined for fully automated systems, like manufacturing plants or software workflow, but since the advent of smart-phones, the definition has been spread to include field workers and Field Service Management Software.