ActivHR Consulting Ltd
Why use 'workflow'?
Tuesday, 20 July 2010 08:50


Times and technology have moved on a lot and now ‘workflow’ is seen as an essential part of a new HR system.

Workflow tools in your HR Software package are used to underpin key business process so tasks are carried out on time, by the right people, and using the correct resources. Using a step-by-step approach, the system can then guide your users through completing your best practice processes, so you can ensure success, efficiency, effectiveness and results.

Authorisation Routes 

The most common type of 'workflow' is know as Authorisation Routes.  This tool allows you to map your own authorisation routes into your HR Software to ensure requests are processed by the right people.  This may be used when employees request a holiday:

  1. The employee users the HR System to self-serve for their HR record and request a holiday, preferably from a Team Holiday Calendar;
  2. The holiday request is then routed to the relevant line manager for authorisation, usually via email; 
  3. The manager is then prompted to login to the HR System to approve or reject the holiday request with appropriate messages passed back to the employee.

Similar authorisation workflow processes can be defined for tasks such as employee requests to change their address and bank details, or where employees will request a period of home-working from their team leader rather than direct manager, or even where the recruitment team need to seek authroisation to recruit for a vacant post.

Procedural Workflow

Procedural Workflows in your HR Software allow your processes to be defined and then controlled by the system.  By having this level of control, you can ensure consistency in approach no matter who is carry out the business process.

As an example, every employer has a New starter Process, typically consisting of many tasks that happen in a particular order. Some tasks may be completed before the employee commences work, some of may happen on the employee's first day, and some mayhappen in the days, weeks and even months after they start.

The best HR systems should allow your complex processes to be defined within the software in order to manage the process from start to finish, checking-off each task as and when it should happen.  Overdue tasks that should have been performed by managers will be highlighted to HR staff so you can uphold your standards and provide support to the management team. 

Pro-Active Workflow

The Pro-active Workflow is a powerful extension to Authorisation Routes and Procedural Workflows: they allow the system to pro-actively start processes automatically based on certain criteria being met. 

If an employee calls HR to report they are too sick to work, once their absence is logged in the system then a workflow process can immediately be initiated to inform their manager of their absence.  When the employee returns to work, the workflow can then make decisions based on the detail of the absence: if it was less than 7 days long, the employee may be prompted to complete an on-line return to work questionnaire; a longer absence may trigger a request for a Doctor’s note, or a face to face interview with another colleague.

This workflow approach can also be used to automate the production report results.  Part of a typical HR Management function is to run an absence analysis report each month to highlight any staff who’s attendance is unsatisfactory, and then start a review process which those staff concerned. With pro-active workflow, all of this can done automatically: the system would monitor employee absences then generate a report, send on to HR and initiate the relevant ‘attendance review’ process.  Such a process ensures that no records are overlooked, and you can remain in complete control of your absence costs.

In the UK right now, there are few HRsystems that incorporate all three of these workflow types.  Some software vendors use external workflow tools that are 'bolted on' to their HR Software.  These tools tend to not be HR specific and are usually difficult for daily system users to understand. 

By far the best option is to look for a comprehensive HR Software package that includes built-in powerful workflow tools, designed for use by the HR team - Cascade HR is one such system.  To understand what Cascade can do for you why not view the online software demo?  Alternatively contact us to arrange a no obligation demonstration.

Source: Cascade HR