World War II may have ended over half a century ago, but we are still reaping the benefits of developments initiated during that conflict. While the computer may be the most obvious, the war also saw the application of mathematics to logistics, which, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, morphed into "operations research" - many of the techniques of which have become pretty commonplace to accountants these days.One outgrowth of operations research was systems analysis - looking at things as an integrated entity, not separate pieces. Workflow analysis is an application of systems analysis to examine how the applications and tasks performed in an office or practice interact with each other, as well as with the staff performing them. Workflow software applies these analyses to make sure that the right staff member gets assigned the right task, along with the appropriate documents and data files.

In many cases, workflow software is an adjunct to specific applications, such as tax prep, and often a component of document management. That's not surprising when you consider that many DM applications are really content management systems - defining "document" very broadly.

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