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As a workflow (also work sequence or English workflow ) will be in the organization theory , the spatial and temporal order of functional , physical or technical mating operations on a work referred to.


In economic units ( private households , companies , states with their subdivisions such as local authorities and public administration ), the work tasks assigned to a position usually consist of a large number of individual process sections (work steps; English task ), which are only fulfilled in their entirety by a final, completing work step are to be seen. Many of these process sections are functionally, physically or technically dependent on one another, so that a certain sequence ( sequence of operations ) must be adhered to during the work process . For this purpose, workers mostly use work equipment in order to achieve a work result based on the specified work task . A workflow that has not yet been completed is in a certain processing status . For more complex workflows, it is worth creating workflow plans with organizational charts .

The work in its practical procedural execution is shaped by the working environment and the required performance requirements , such as qualification , work order ( English job ) and execution conditions . The work order in turn consists of work instructions and other instructions ( service instructions ) on the work equipment, work processes and the work objective.

The analysis and design of work processes is part of the process organization in companies . It determines the most appropriate work processes in order to ensure the best possible result. In doing so, it must take into account that it often happens in the operational process that a work task cannot be completed by a single workstation, but by several workstations - even across departments and locations . A coordinated approach by the departments involved is then required on the basis of flow diagrams, which record the process sections across all departments. If individual process sections can only be combined in an entire company through a complex production process to form an end product or service , one speaks of work systems or business processes . If the vertical range of manufacture in the company is not very great, the workflows only lead to semi-finished or intermediate products that can only be completed by further processing in other companies.


Frederick Winslow Taylor is considered the founder of Scientific Management , i.e. the scientific penetration of work processes . He and Frank Bunker Gilbreth began in 1911 to systematically analyze the industrial workflow by means of workflow studies. Taylor concentrated on time and motion studies, with the help of which he split the entire workflow into meaningful sub-operations and optimized it through objectification. In doing so, he determined the optimal forms of movement and the most favorable time required for a specific workflow. In 1948 the engineer Karl Wilhelm Hennig dealt in detail with industrial work processes. For him, the workflow is the chronological succession and side-by-side of work processes on work objects , carried out by workers at the workplace; it serves to fulfill a sub-task in a company. The workflow must be designed in such a way that economic efficiency , perfect product quality , speed and deadline security can be achieved.

Erich Gutenberg found in 1951 that the throughput time is lowest when the work steps follow one another without significant loss of time. In 1951 Konrad Mellerowicz considered it an important task to “design the work flow rationally” and in 1956 ascribed the organizational mindset the purpose of finding the best work process for a task, whereby work preparation can ensure a smooth workflow. For Erich Kosiol , the primary goal of structuring the workflow in 1962 was to achieve the shortest lead times for all processing objects. In 1971, Erwin Grochla dealt in detail with the work processes in the office .

Disruptions in the workflow

There can also be weak points in workflows . They can lead to operational disruptions ( English job stoppers ), so that if an interruption occurs, the task-related and planned process sections that are currently to be carried out can no longer be implemented. A distinction is made between two interruptions. The workflow is interrupted either by people or by a disrupted function or lack of availability of work equipment.

Work process, process management and workflow management

A work process is a binding work flow that has a clear start event and end result, is worked on by several people involved in the process and provides benefits for an internal or external customer . The process management relates to the technical and conceptual level in the company, while the workflow management is the operational level. The goal of process management is to systematically analyze work processes and continuously improve them. For this purpose, work content and work locations must be examined by means of a work analysis and synthesis . The workflow management has to provide the correct workflow on the basis of these results. It can be described as a technical view of the business processes, as it includes the control of the work processes. A workflow management system can support the process in multiple contexts, supply it with the necessary data (temporal, modal, final) and support it according to a specification stored in the system or an algorithm provided for this purpose . International industrial bodies such as the WfMC and OMG have developed standards such as BPAF, BPMN and BPML for this purpose.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Ekkehard Frieling / Karlheinz Sonntag / Ralf Stegmaier: Textbook Industrial Psychology , 1999, p. 468 ff.
  2. Ansfried B. Weinert: Organizational and Personal Psychology , 2004, p. 650
  3. Udo Freier / Gisela Rauschhofer: Atlas Wirtschaftslehre. 1984, p. 105
  4. Frederick Winslow Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management , 1913, p. 32 ff.
  5. ^ A b Karl Wilhelm Hennig: Business Organization. 1948, p. 110
  6. Erich Gutenberg: Basics of business economics, Volume 1: The production. 1963, p. 157
  7. Konrad Mellerowicz: Costs and Costing , Volume 1, 1951, p. 215
  8. Konrad Mellerowicz: General Business Administration. Volume 1, 1956, p. 29
  9. Konrad Mellerowicz: General Business Administration. Volume 1, 1956, p. 102
  10. Erich Kosiol: Organization of the company , 1962, p. 107
  11. Erwin Grochla (ed.): The office as center of information processing , 1971, p. 129 ff.
  12. Heiner Dunckel: Contrastive task analysis in the office. , 1993, p. 213
  13. Carlo Simon / Bernd Hientzsch: Process Owner: Knowledge & Methods for Managers of Business Processes. 2014, p. 10
  14. BPAF standard
  15. BPMN Business Model /
  16. ^ BPML Business Model Language