To improve employee productivity, boost output, and cut down costs, in the long run, organizations have to implement strategies that optimize their internal workflows. For them to do this effectively, workflow scheduling is one of the key elements that have to be implemented.
In addition to acting as an outline for employees to follow in handling day-to-day operations, workflow scheduling also determines how limited resources are allocated and utilized in completing processes in any organization.
This article is an overview of what workflow scheduling is, its importance, and how it helps to improve workflow management.
What is Workflow Scheduling?
Workflows typically have constraints in terms of when they must be executed, how resources will be allocated, and so on.
Workflow scheduling helps in mapping out the processes and managing the execution of interdependent work within a process. It involves the allocation of suitable resources to various workflows so that they’re completed in a way that satisfies laid down objectives.
Workflow Scheduling vs Task Scheduling
Here’s how workflow scheduling differs from task scheduling:
|Workflow Scheduling||Task Scheduling|
|Determining the order of executing tasks||Scheduling the workflows within a process|
|Tasks are not interdependent||Workflows are always interdependent|
|Any to-do list tool can be used to make task scheduling||Workflow tools with complex algorithms are used for workflow scheduling|
Workflow Scheduling Algorithms
To schedule workflows, sophisticated algorithms are needed. This is particularly important in cloud-based work environments where one workflow may depend on data from another workflow before it can be executed. The following are some of the common workflow scheduling algorithms that may be used by workflow management systems.
First Come First Serve (FCFS)
This is the simplest type of workflow scheduling algorithm where the processes that request resources from the workflow management system first are given priority over others. The system creates a queue that prioritizes the allocation of workflow resources based on how early they enter the queue. This way, when one workflow is completed, the next one at the beginning of the queue gets priority.
Shortest Remaining Time (SRT)
This is a type of workflow scheduling algorithm that allocates resources based on how close a workflow is to completion. With this type of algorithm, older workflows within a process are completed ahead of newly-created ready-state work.
Priority Based Scheduling (PBS)
With this type of algorithm, the workflow management system creates a schedule for workflows based on how important they are. The degree of importance may be due to memory requirements, time, and other factors. Thus, high-priority assignments are completed earlier than low-priority ones.
Round-Robin Scheduling (RRS)
This is arguably the simplest type of scheduling algorithm where everyone gets an equal share of everything in turn. This type of algorithm is used when multitasking is involved or when the system has assigned equal priority to more than one workflow and it wants to ensure that none of them is starved.
Shortest Job First
Similar to the shortest time first algorithm, the Shortest Job First scheduling algorithm gives more priority to workflows that can be completed the fastest. This method of workflow scheduling reduces the wait time for other workflows that are yet to be executed.
Multiple-Level Queues Scheduling
This algorithm creates multiple waiting queues for the various workflows that are to be completed. The workflows are assigned to queues based on specific properties, then the system uses another type of algorithm to schedule each queue. Thus, a multilevel queue scheduling method is not an independent scheduling algorithm.
Challenges with Workflow Scheduling
The challenges of workflow scheduling are dynamic and random. They’re even more complex in the modern cloud-based work environment where there is a general lack of prior knowledge and workloads are unpredictable.
Some of the common challenges of workflow scheduling include:
In the traditional work environment, scheduling work follows a deterministic model that relies on prior knowledge about the work and the resources available. However, this is not a realistic approach for a cloud-based work environment where the work received for computation and how it will be executed are not quite predictable. This makes it difficult to determine the amount of data and computational resources needed to schedule and manage work efficiently.
Quality of Service
The unpredictability of workflow scheduling in a cloud environment raises questions about the quality of service delivered by workflow management systems. Providers of work management services have to ensure that work is executed properly in a way that maintains the quality of service.
Work management platforms have to ensure the right scheduling decision is being made in compliance with the laid down quality of service parameters. Failure to do this results in long wait and execution time, reduced output, and inefficient utilization of resources.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of workflow scheduling is how to ensure the balanced allocation and utilization of cloud resources in executing work. The workload must be distributed optimally based on available cloud resources. This way, there is no overutilization or underutilization in any form.
The ultimate goal of workflow scheduling is to optimize processes and maximize output as much as possible. Figuring out how to speed up workflows, simplify data sharing and schedule work accordingly will do your organization a world of good in terms of ensuring process efficiency.
Efficient work management also opens the door to automation which is a viable way to reduce manual, redundant work by setting various functions within the workflow on autopilot. Work management and automation tools are worth the investment because they digitize your operations, help manage requests seamlessly, and enable cross-functional collaboration.
Kissflow is an end-to-end work management and automation platform that is designed to effectively streamline your workflows, giving you the agility and flexibility to run your business operations hassle-free. Kissflow workflow platform helps your organization to leverage the power of no-code technology to optimize work across all levels and accelerates the digital growth of your business.