What Is Workflow?
In the context of documents, workflow means moving the documents. Goods Delivery Notesaccompany merchandise and come back to the seller duly acknowledged by the buyer; Invoiceshave to be sent to the buyers; Checks have to be sent to suppliers; Letters have to be sent to manypersons and organizations; and so on.In addition to the external communications illustrated above, there are internal movements of documents. Time cards have to be sent to the payroll clerk; Pay sheets have to move toaccounting and treasury departments; Memos have to move from person to person.
Need for Workflow Control
Unless the flow of documents is controlled through carefully developed policies and procedures,results are chaotic. Goods Received Notes acknowledged by customers can be misplaced leadingto disputes about invoices. Intended recipients of official memos might dispute ever havingreceived the document. Employees might not get paid correctly or on time.The issues of confidentiality and business interests might also be compromised unless the flow of documents is controlled properly. Legal regulations require you to keep several kinds of dataconfidential. Business interests might require that you keep certain sensitive data accessible onlyto a restricted few. If you have inadequate control over the document flow, confidential andsensitive data can easily fall into the wrong hands.
Kinds of Documents
Before exploring how document workflow is controlled, take a quick look at the kinds of documents that arise in a business organization.
Text Documents: Letters, Reports, Statements, Contracts
Drawings: Blueprints, Organization Charts, Workflow Charts
Printed Materials: News articles, Reference materials
Forms: Invoices, Orders, Attendance cards, Bin cardsAlmost every one of these documents involves some kind of workflow. Information has to begathered from other documents for preparing a letter or report. Contracts have to be reviewedbefore signing. Information from other documents, collected from other persons or departments,have to be summarized for preparing statements like a sales analysis.