What is Workflow Management Software? Analysis of Features, Types, Benefits and Pricing

Workflow management software is a system designed to facilitate the setup, execution and monitoring of workflows in an organization. A workflow is a sequence or chain of processes that can be operational, industrial or administrative wherein a work passes through from start to execution to completion. This type of software helps businesses keep tab, take control and better manage routine or unique processes. What is workflow management software is best understood by its overarching objective – to coordinate interactions between employees and software applications, ensuring that the flow of processes and work across automated and human tasks are properly kept in sync.

To realize its purpose, workflow management software brings with it functionalities for collaboration, automation, and synchronization of single or several processes. It provides a platform where users can view process and performance metrics to assess whether a process require improving or accelerating. Often, constant and redundant tasks result in reduced organizational productivity each time work is completed. A workflow management system helps streamline these tasks to boost productivity and ensure the follow-up of uncompleted tasks along the process chain.

The global market size of workflow management system has been experiencing remarkable growth. According to marketsandmarkets.com, it is estimated to grow from $3.51 Billion in 2016 to $9.87 Billion by 2021, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.0%. Major factors that will drive the market include the increased focus on streamlining business processes, achieving cost-efficiency through workflow management, and increased access to information. A 2017 summary report on Workflow Management System projects that cloud-deployed workflow management system software will have the highest demand due to increased cost reduction (compared to on-premises software deployment), flexibility, and real-time access to data regardless of employees’ location.

Credits: marketsandmarkets.com

What’s the Difference? Workflow Management System vs Task Management

Task management and ticket systems are used for running production operations support, providing customer service or handling customer queries, tracking sales leads, or monitoring items and tasks in a project management plan. Managers get visibility into how tasks are progressing and everyone involved get to see who is doing the task. It is an ideal system to automate regular, normal, day-to-day operations. But it is limited in its capability to handle uncommon or unique processes that vary between organizations, or to support greater customization and wider integration. In other words, task management tools are there for businesses to use and follow, and not the other way around, thus making these apps dictate the process.

What is workflow management software but a more advanced platform that provides flexible tools and powerful solutions that fit the way you work. It is task management that has been leveled up to conform and follow your business processes the way you want them to be. It gives you the ability to customize your business process, define process models that match your tasks, and adjust it to the way you work.

Whereas task management and tickets systems require you to modify your work to accommodate the apps, workflow management software adapts to your work needs by using custom business model that can automatically create and assign the right tasks to the right person at the right time. By letting you come up with value creating tasks, workflow management software is far superior in extracting better results and productivity from your team. This encapsulates the definition of workflow management software and what it is all about – to keep the work flowing based on your process.

What Does Workflow Management Software Do?

There are several areas that address the question – what does workflow management software do? Among others, it does the following:

  • Enables individuals to streamline repetitive processes
  • Allows creating and assigning tasks
  • Provides an infrastructure where tasks can be defined and executed
  • Defines the tasks involved in each step of the process
  • Automatically follows up on unfinished tasks in the process
  • Synchronizes tasks in every stage of the process chain
  • Sets up, executes and monitor workflows, and adapts to changes along the way
  • Coordinates the operation of individual components that constitute the workflow
  • Provides overall visibility of the workflow along with performance metrics
  • Combines a number of tools into one easy to use platform
  • Helps users keep up and keep tab of sequences in operation
  • Provides individuals the needed information to perform tasks effectively wherever they may be
  • Provides tailored solutions to fit your business process
  • Allows operation staff to adjust and update process model to follow changes in an evolving business process
  • Allows custom email notifications regarding workflow status to concerned individuals
  • Allows integration of other systems into the process model to reduce errors from manually copying information

Dapulse: Smart collaboration and communication platform.

How Does Workflow Management Software Work?

Workflow is a chain of tasks and processes. It consists of a series of tasks within a business, company or organization to produce a final outcome – work that is completed. Workflow management software allows you to define different tasks in the links or stages along the chain. Let’s take for example a publishing company. A document or content will pass through a number of stages before it sees final print or publication. It will go from writer who creates the content, the editor who reviews and approve the content, the proofreader who checks the copy for errors, and the production team (graphic/design/layout artists), and probably back to the editor for one final look, before the content gets published.

In the above scenario, an individual or group is responsible or assigned a specific task for each stage of the workflow. Once a task in every stage is completed, the workflow management software makes sure that the persons responsible for the next stage are notified and get the data or materials they need to execute their assigned task in that particular stage of the process. The software serves as workflow director who defines, synchronizes and automates the tasks involved in every stage of the process, and duly notifies the people concerned.

Now transpose the publication setting in a manufacturing process, in an IT workflow-heavy environment, or just about any organizational or operational activity that requires a series of tasks – from concept to completion – to produce a final product or outcome in the most streamlined and efficient manner, and you get the idea of what workflow management software does and how important its role is.

What Are the Benefits of Workflow Management Software?

There are several benefits of workflow management software. Here are some of them:

  1. Mobile access. Most workflow management software is now web-based which gives your employees easy access to data on any device with internet access. Many offer an app for offline workflow to allow users to keep working even when there is no internet connection. Likewise, it allows multiple employees to access the system simultaneously.
  2. Revenue and reporting. Workflow management software offer tools for users to assess jobs and related daily expenses. It helps provide you with up to date information every day, so you can resolve any concerns early to compensate and improve margins. Reporting dashboards and tools let you see snapshots across your entire company, as well as drill down into specific details.
  3. Affordable packages. Most workflow management software, especially cloud or web-based, are offered via budget-friendly monthly subscription plans. You can pay a one-time activation fee for a new account that comes with the use of the software, setup costs if any, and training.
  4. Ease of use. Having good features does not equate with easy operation. We always advise that you try before you buy by checking out the free trials of the many workflow management software offered to find out for yourself if they are responsive, easy to use, operate, and navigate.

Bpm’online: Complete business process management suite.

What Are the Advantages of Workflow Management Software?

Although workflow management software is widely used in the manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and other process-dependent industries, the system can actually support and encompass any type and kind of operations. After all, every business and organization depends and engages in some kind of workflow and processes one way or another to execute and accomplish tasks, programs and projects. Below are some of the advantages you can gain with workflow management software.

  1. Automated operation. Automation features in workflow management software can provide employees with the opportunity to work on non-repetitive tasks and expand their skill levels. It keeps employees more involved in tasks and the production process, aside from getting things done faster and without human error.
  2. Improved accountability. Workflow management system clearly shows which tasks are required, who is to perform them, and when the task should be completed. When tasks and goals are clearly defined, everyone can smoothly go about their work without management intervention unless absolutely necessary. This enhances management and employee relations. Also, databases can keep records of what has occurred in the system, allowing management to conduct audit if needed.
  3. Streamlined processes. Improved workflow can provide valuable insights into the steps and stages that go into a process. Some platforms can determine when two tasks can be completed simultaneously instead of sequentially, and can discover if some steps are unnecessary. This gives companies more informed choices to match specific tasks with relevant skills, rather than just picking someone who is free to do a task at a given time.
  4. Enhanced communication. A main reason for employee turnover is poor inter-office communication. Workflow management system is designed for automation, collaboration and task tracking so everyone is aware of what is happening, who is doing what task in what stage, and what will happen next in the process chain. This visibility into processes fosters clear coordination and communication lines to keep things running like a well-oiled machine.
  5. Shortened process times. Workflow management systems speed up tasks from starting a project to having it approved internally. The software can be set to notify employees if a deadline is approaching or a target has been missed. Team leaders can use the system to notify all concerned employees of any new projects, guidelines, or changes in schedule. The software optimizes the number one resource available – time – and gives the company the momentum to move on to new projects consistently.

Kissflow: Cloud hosted workflow management software.

What Are the Features of Workflow Management Software?

Workflow management software may have different capabilities and functions offered. However, the best ones should provide you with the most important features expected from software of this type, which include the following:

  1. WYSIWYG form designer. Quality workflow management software encourages collaboration and coordination from its users, hence a simple form designer that can be easily filled by users and which you can view in real time is a necessity.
  2. KPI-based reports. This gives you the visibility you need to look into your workflows. Reporting features enable you to see and analyze where obstacles are and where to focus your attention to provide remedies and improvements.
  3. SLA status indicators. When automating several processes you need to know quickly which ones are on track and which ones are not. The software uses color codes or similar features to inform you about the workflows you need to concentrate and work on.
  4. Role-based access control. Workflows may contain sensitive business information that may not be applicable or accessible to all. Workflow management systems allow you to customize and control what each user can see and edit based on their role.  
  5. Notifications and reminders. Individuals will abandon and forget a task if they are not reminded that they are in the next stage of work in the process, and that some task are incoming. An effective workflow management system will send notifications via email or push notifications on your mobile of upcoming tasks or approvals. Users should also be able to customize the kind of notifications they receive.
  6. Integration. Workflows by their nature should be able to operate with other processes, systems and software. Documents, sales reports, cash-flows, calendars, and contact details are all vital elements that must be included as a part of the workflow itself. They must likewise allow integration with common services that you use such as Google Calendar, Zendesk, Quickbooks, SAP, and SalesForce.

ProWorkFlow: Collaboration solution designed for project visibility and control.

What is the Cost of Workflow Management Software?

Cloud-based workflow management platforms have drastically reduced the cost of the software. From being high-cost premium solutions that can set you back four figures or more, the software has gone down to very affordable single or double digit prices for monthly subscription basis. You can go for basic, standard, pro or enterprise plans generally offered by software vendors, giving you a wide range of choices for features that you need. The rule of thumb is to carefully study the offerings and the features and functions that come with each plan so that you can get the most suitable one that matches your requirements.

What are Examples of Workflow Management Software?

  1. Dapulse is a smart collaboration and communication platform designed to get team members working in sync in one place. It is one of our best project management solutions and a winner of our Supreme Software Award for 2016 as well as the Great User Experience Award. The software specializes in streamlining discussions and contributions, and keeping all team members on the loop to ensure high level performance and output. Among its highlights are advanced customization, collaboration hub, real-time task monitoring, reporting options, and multiple integrations.
  2. Bpm’online is an end to end business process management suite that lets companies test, improve, and stay on top of their operational processes and adjust them to match a changing business landscape. The entire software package is hosted in the cloud and optimized for mobile usage, making it possible to track changes and adjust them anytime and anywhere. The process driven functionality box ensures that users have access to the best practices in their industry, and apply those to improve operational management. It is a user-friendly system that blends easily with existing software ecosystem with its extensive and configurable APIs. It integrates with a variety of ERP, ecommerce, CRM, email, and social networking services.
  3. KiSSFLOW is a cloud hosted workflow management platform built to help users easily design, create, and customize business applications. It adopts a lightweight approach to business process management by placing the function of creating workflows back in the hands of people who understand the problems best. It comes with about 50 pre-installed business applications such as employee onboarding, purchase orders, mileage reimbursement, vendor payment, and many more. Users can install these apps, edit them to their preferences, or build their own from the ground up.
  4. ProWorkFlow is a collaboration solution that focuses on project visibility and control to help users work seamlessly with their teams. Its features and functions are scalable to fit the needs of freelancers, small, medium, and large enterprises. Its Homepage Dashboard provides a quick overview of current status for active, finished, and future work, and keeps everyone updated with a messaging tool that features one-click replies. It has easy-to-use Gantt style timeline to let users see a global view of projects and tasks. A simple drag-and-drop functionality allows for setting dates quickly or track time.
  5. Scientrix is a matrix thought architecture platform designed to help users discover and create innovative solutions that directly address complex, multi-dimensional problems within their organizations. The software enables users to structure, connect, and integrate their thoughts, build models and unearth more possibilities by remodeling various parts into new structures.

Is Workflow Management Software For You?

If you’d like to elevate the management of tasks to the next level that conforms to your defined business processes, then workflow management software will serve you well and address your needs. It is flexible and customizable enough to adapt to the way your work, not only in handling repetitive tasks but also divergent, irregular processes that would otherwise require a different software or solution. It helps you smoothly move tasks along the process chain from onset to final outcome through automation and optimization tools so that you and your team can work systematically, efficiently, and productively. It is a solution that will produce dramatic changes to your workflow system. What is workflow management software? It is your tool to elevate and optimize your business processes and propel your company forward to success in a cutthroat and demanding business environment.

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