Workflow applications consist of software that connects and sequences different applications, components, and people, all of which must be involved in the processing of data to complete an instance of a process. These applications support the workflow process.
Workflow automation is not strictly a knowledge management application, but it can be an important enabler by means of allowing knowledge capture and reuse to be embedded in routine business processes. By so doing, the likelihood of desired knowledge being collected and retrieved at the appropriate times is significantly increased, since there is no separate KM process which may or may not be followed.
For example, for call centers, there are four KCS (Knowledge-Centered Service) practices “that contribute to the creation and maintenance of knowledge in the Solve Loop: Capture in the workflow: while responding to the request, we capture the requestor’s context (their words and phrases) as well as the responder’s knowledge. As tacit knowledge becomes explicit in the context of use, it becomes part of the article. Capturing this tacit information makes the article findable and reusable.”
Look for opportunities to add knowledge capture and reuse to existing workflow applications and consider implementing new ones that do this. The result will be fewer extra steps, more automated knowledge flow, and improved business results.
Example using Microsoft SharePoint
Here is an example of using the workflow functionality of Microsoft SharePoint was used for task management.
Step 1: If you are part of a workflow you will receive a task notification
Step 2: Review Request
Step 3a: Approve Task related to the request (access from original email notification)
Step 3b: Approve Task
Step 4a: Each team member completes their step
Step 4b: Each team member completes their step
Step 4c: Each team member completes their step
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For additional details, see the extended version of this post.