Information technology is seen as a means by which your business can achieve agility and competitiveness. Although information technology has numerous beneficial effects on a typical enterprise, perhaps the most potent means of applying information technology is to use it to directly manage business processes through workflow management systems.
A workflow management system provides the business analyst with a view of the processes that the business currently operates, and allows the analyst to manage those processes according to the enterprise’s business direction and changing market conditions. Under the covers, the workflow system is a dependable (and usually distributed) computing system that ensures the proper flow of information and resources to people or infrastructure that undertakes the actual work.
Workflow systems have been in existence for some time now and have generally served the enterprises in which they have been deployed well, though they have never been widely deployed across enterprises to build the much-vaunted virtual enterprise. The lack of virtual enterprises can be attributed in part to the fact that the underlying technology has failed to deliver the kind of interoperability needed to successfully run such an endeavor. However, with the advent of Web services, the kind of interoperability issues that prevented previous workflow systems from scaling up to inter-enterprise scenarios will disappear and will thus open the opportunity for inter-enterprise workflows.
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