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General Principles of Workflow
In theory, businesses are managed according to policies and procedures that allow efficiency, quality service, adherence to contractual agreements, and profitability. These policies enforce business processes such as:
- Allowing that response time objectives are met for customer callbacks and open service requests
- Specifying review policies for important processes like contracts, quotes, or product shipments
- Monitoring service requests or opportunities over time
In practice, the benefits of policies often are not realized because policies are not consistently enforced. This may be because of the large number of processes or because of the dynamic nature of the information being monitored.
The management of important events is central to the enforcement of business workflow. Workflow is the timely management of an event to allow proper handling. For example, service departments have procedures for managing an open service request or making sure that response times are met. A workflow can increase the visibility of these processes within an organization and check that they are correctly handled.
Service departments have sets of defined rules that match their policies and service agreements such as:
- Standards for processing calls. For example, when a Severity 1 call is assigned, the new owner is automatically paged.
- Contracted service agreements that must be adhered to. For example, customers may purchase a support agreement guaranteeing a callback in two hours and problem resolution in four hours.
Sales departments also have rules to enforce desired business practices, such as:
- Discount authority. If a sales representative quotes a discount exceeding the maximum discount allowed, it requires the approval of the district sales manager or VP of Sales.
- Pipeline management. Each sales representative manages his or her pipeline to ensure sufficient levels of prospects at each stage of the sales cycle. If an area of the pipeline needs attention, the representative or manager should be alerted.
- Forecasting accuracy. Opportunities that are forecasted but never closed or forecasts having wide discrepancies with the actual revenue need to be flagged.