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Workflow Analysis: What is it, how to do it & which software?

document management system workflow diagram

The essentials in brief


Questions to consider before making an analysis of an workflow

What is a workflow analysis?

The analysis of a workflow defines a series of actions used to evaluate the as-is portfolio in order to define a new portfolio condition. The workflow is based on business and IT procedures.

Modern business processes are the reason for significant corporate achievements. However, some organizations are struggling to adjust quickly and efficent to the various prerequisites when dealing with archive-based processes. Albeit the expanding digitization of business processes, which make the daily office life simpler, the specialized chances are not perfectly recognized and misused in numerous spots.

How is in-house mail dealt with? Where and how are reports stored? How are structures and pre-printed archives taken care of? What's the significance here considering the costs? Are there business processes that require the utilization of unique printers?

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How does a document management system workflow diagram work?

A document management system workflow diagram provides a graphical outline of various business interactions. Utilizing normalized images and shapes, the business process shows step by step how the task is performed from the beginning to the end. It displays, who is accountable for certain assignments at specific interaction stages. To build up, you should initially perform an in-depth examination that can uncover expected shortcomings. A analysis can help you recognize, characterize and normalize recurring procedures.

Not only can communication be improved through an efficient process, but also the motivation of workers within their offices. Workflows have their roots in the industry assembling, yet are currently utilized in any kind of ventures and areas - from government to retail .

Are you interested in the basic functions of a workflow within a DMS? Take a look at our video, where we demonstrate some basic examples within a software system (please enable english subtitles).

Workflow versus business process

Business processes are essential for your regular daily workforce and the project management. At the point when you sign another cell contract, for instance, this triggers an interaction at the supplier. The process is comprised of individual exercises. These should happen with the goal for it to be finished effectively and at last present your PDA contract therefore. The specific usage can fluctuate, as you may either need to take your old number with you or apply for another one. Nonetheless, one part is consistently important: A business process has a client-related view and follows business goals. It depicts which steps are essential and in which arrangement they have to be performed in order to accomplish the objective. Without a clear analysis, there might be redundant tasks when executing.

Components of a workflow:

  • has a trigger for the start and a defined point of end
  • comprises several work steps (assignments, activities, exercises) that run sequentially or at the same time
  • runs recurringly 
  • has a characterized state when a substep is effectively finished or skipped
  • appoints exercises to various participants, which are addressed either by an individual or by the framework
  • has data and reports as an output in order to analyze them
workflow within DMS

What are the benefits of a workflow analysis?

Workflow analyses are going to improve efficiency, which would then enable to lessen lead times and reduce costs for any task when changes are made. This is guaranteeing, that your business process management is lined up with the goals. From that point forward, you can begin taking a look for areas, where there are chances for development and furthermore for automating manual and repetitive tasks. In the event that you can fully utilize the analysis, you will gain a competitive advantage for your company.

So what are the three main stages of a workflow examination? The first one is to precisely portray one using the mentioned diagram. The second one is to search for regions that need improvement. Lastly, the goal is to streamline a workflow through automation in order to reduce unnecessary tasks. This can also include a manager approval for certain tasks.

At the point when you performing an audit, you are searching for existing documentations & standards. Take a look at the information you are provided from different departments. What amount of time does each task require? What number of assignments are required? Is there a base and maximum time needed for each assignment? By posing these inquiries and finding a relevant arrangement, you can improve old business measures significantly.

  • Improved communication
  • Reduction of lead times
  • Reduction of costs
  • Increase in quality
  • Reduction of redundant tasks
workflow analysis benefits

How to do a workflow analysis?

To adjust old business measures with future goals, workflows should be investigated. You can begin by implementing these steps for your analysis:

  • Identify the people involved
  • Break down the interaction models
  • Analyze the current state
  • Search for bottlenecks
  • Decide whether the business interaction can be changed
  • Calculate the general expenses
Checklist for analysis

1. Identify the people involved

The first step is to identify the people who are to be involved in the workflow. It is important that a holistic approach is selected and that no group of people is left out. Along the value chain, a pattern of responsible persons and their tasks is formed. This not only makes it easier to map the process, but also to identify which people and substeps are most important for the automated workflow.

While identifying the persons, the input of these should also be taken into account. The responsible employees already have a distinct expertise and can contribute suggestions for improvement.

2. Break down the interaction model

The next step is to figure out which cycle the workflow should go through. This should take into account which steps are necessary to be able to achieve the specified goal. Likewise, the question must be asked, which interactions within the company, as well as with the customers are needed for the process. Potential for improvement can already be identified here.

In particular, the exchange with customers can help to eliminate unnecessary sub-steps. The customer's view can differ from the internal view and reveal which substeps he does not consider important.

3. Analyze the current state

An inventory of the current situation is of high importance in any case. Here it is important to find out which steps have been used for the process so far. Were there exceptions or has the process been strictly adhered to so far? Have these exceptions led to an improvement or deterioration of the workflow?

It is also possible to determine how much effort would be required to introduce an improved process. Not all substeps of the old process necessarily have to be eliminated if they have already proven to be efficient.

4. Search for bottlenecks

Bottlenecks can be the cause of an inefficient process. As a result, higher runtimes and costs occur in the processing. It is important to discover what factors, assuming there are any, make hindrances at the current situation. These factors might be workers, double substeps, or a lack of automation.

The goal in this step is to be able to identify the monetary loss of the Botteleneck. Thus, it is possible to weigh the future savings of the improved process against the cost of implementation.

5. Decide whether the business interaction can be changed

Some processes can be replaced very easily by new ones, while others involve costs and a lot of time. The benefits must always be weighed up here.

The business process automation can bring a siginifcant increase in efficiency if used in the right place. It can also prevent application errors by workers. Would automation help the change?

6. Calculate the general expenses

This is an ideal opportunity to represent the normal expenses of identical business processes inin comparable markets and companies. In order to be able to estimate the added value of a workflow analysis, it is advisable to present the costs of the previous processes. Non-monetary costs, such as worker motivation in inefficient processes, must also be taken into account.

The long-term aspect should also be taken into account. The costs for the introduction of a new process can be high in the short term, but in the long term this can lead to significantly higher savings.


Workflows are the foundation of the traditional ECM model. It will also be necessary for organizations to process captured documents through workflows in new approaches, such as Enterprise Content Services. The improvement is not only accompanying by various tools, but also with the help of professional consultants. We analyze internal and external existing procedures for businesses in the context of personal workshops, uncovering optimization opportunities and causes of error, and developing viable options for improving business processes.

Our technologies make the day-to-day office life much simpler. They have been restructured and improved. Digital workflows will largely bypass paper-based business processes. A systematic protocol is followed to process or automate daily activities. Employees from various divisions, such as incoming mail, accounting, planning, marketing, sales, and customer support, have concurrent access to always-up-to-date records. In accordance with legal provisions, all digital archives are protected and archived.

An analysis should aim to quantify workflows in monetary values or times so that the costs and benefits can be better weighed. The analysis of workflows allows you to see how long the quickest and the longest execution took, and how long the workflow takes on average. This allows you to determine whether a long execution period, for example, is an exception or occurs on a daily basis. The execution time can also indicate that a workflow can be redesigned to make it more effective.

You can see how error-prone a process is by looking at the  distribution of efficient and failed workflows. There may be a variety of explanations for this, including linked third-party software that are unstable. However, users will make mistakes as well. Through better usage instructions, the latter may be minimized. 

How can Document Management Systems (DMS) assist as a workflow analysis tool?

You can initialize simple and unstructed processes within a DMS as well as describe complex multi-level branch workflows. A Document Management System however rarely acts only as a workflow management software, but offers many more features.

For example, an incoming invoice amounting to more than Dollar 100,- runs through a route other than invoices with a lower invoice amount.

Another example is that supplier invoices are entered in the Document Management System and reviewed differently than invoices for products entered in the ERP method.

Any other events or actions besides the forwarding of the corresponding document can be caused when the task is completed. The completion of a maintenance mission, for instance, will schedule the next maintenance in 3 months automatically.

Requirements for quality control in compliance with DIN EN ISO 9001 ff, with the aid of the workflow functions, are built into bitfarm-Archiv Enterprise. A document is generated as usual in a third-party software for this purpose and stored directly in the DMS. The author uses the 'Edit original application file' feature to edit the text. Advanced ECM features, such as versioning and check-in/out, endorse it.

The paper is automatically submitted to a reviewer or community of reviewers once its editing has been completed. If the draft does not meet standards, suggestions for change are sent back within real time. Until the document is accepted, the procedure repeats.

If you are interested in a video demonstration, you can watch our video regarding basic functions within a DMS on YouTube (please enable english subtitles).

What is a workflow analysis example?

Another example, now again with the task list: It is about the creation of a documentation, let's say an instruction manual for the product of a company. The manual is in the form of a Word file in the DMS. bitfarm-Archiv is often used as an ECM system and offers a wide range of functionality for working with original digital documents, but this is the subject of another video.

If the author thinks that the manual is now ready, he sets the status in the DMS. The workflow then begins by giving the document to the responsible reviewer, with the task of now reviewing the document. If the manual does not pass the check, it is returned to the author with a corresponding note. If, on the other hand, the document is accepted, the workflow can then forward the document to the publisher, for example, who publishes it. Many other variants are conceivable.

Such workflows can therefore map processes as they are prescribed in a quality management system according to Iso 9001 and thus implement the requirements of the quality management manual in a very practical way.

Freeware GPL & Enterprise

We offer two versions of bitfarm-Archiv. The GPL Edition is a freeware DMS designed for small businesses and non-profits, personal use, small workgroups and developers. The Enterprise Edition with additional premium features is also free of license costs and designed for high demanding enterprise customers. Please have a look at our references to get an impression of how we serve the industry since nearly two decades.

Feature descriptions and customer opinions mainly refer to our Enterprise Edition.

► Contact our team for a free live presentation ► Create Workflows with our latest GPL-Version for free
Fully Functional✓ No Trial✓ Since 2003✓

Further reading: Sources and interesting links

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