Choosing the right Workflow Management System can be hard. In 2018, there are a lot of different options on the market, with each having a different angle on managing workflows.
This might be a tad overwhelming, especially if you don’t how to pick them apart.
Some end up being extremely overpriced, just like every other legacy BPM solution. Chances are, you can’t really afford to pay 6 figures for software you haven’t even tested yet.
Others can be very hard to use. You want a workflow management software that your employees can start using today, not after 3 months of intense training.
So, to help you pick the right solution, we’ve compiled a guide that explains just about everything related to workflow management systems.
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Read on to learn how to pick the right software for your business and take advantage of all the killer benefits workflow management offers.
How to Use This Guide
- What’s a workflow management system?
- What are the real-life use-cases for workflow management software
- How to pick the right software & what features to look out for?
- What are some of the best solutions on the market?
What is Workflow Management System?
Workflow management system is a piece of software that can help you create, automate and track different workflows or processes.
So buzzwords aside, you’re probably wondering what does that even mean.
Well, workflows are essentially the same thing as your business processes. With a workflow system, you can create digitized processes. This can help with…
- Process Enforcement and Standardization – Your employees don’t always follow the best version of a workflow. Even if you optimize the hell out of it, it’s not guaranteed that all of your employees will follow it step-by-step. The workflow software makes sure everyone follows the same process with no variations.
- Process Automation – For a process to be completed successfully, you need extensive communication among your employees. i.e. employees notifying each other whenever it’s their turn to work on a given task. The software automates the facilitation of the process using push and email notifications.
This, in turn, makes your business processes more effective, leading to higher company-wide efficiency.
3 Use-Cases for Workflow Management Systems
Workflow software can be used for just about any repeatable process.
Since processes are very company-specific, we’ll review a handful that is present in just about every organization.
Your employees are the core of your business – they are what determine how the organization will perform overall.
Keeping your employees happy, though, isn’t easy. According to SHRM (the Society for Human Resources Management), around 50% of all new hires quit within 18 months of employment.
This can be pretty devastating, considering how harmful employee turnover is for a business.
Creating a structured employee onboarding process with a workflow management system, though, can help with this significantly.
For most businesses, the onboarding process is very company-specific. Here’s a more generic example, though…
|Step 1||HR prepares employee documents|
|Step 2||HR prepares relevant supplies|
|Step 3||IT gives access to company tools & accounts|
|Step 4||HR creates a welcome package|
|Step 5||HR notifies supervisor and co-workers|
|Step 6||HR assigns a buddy for the employee|
|Step 7||Buddy introduces the new hire to co-workers|
|Step 8||Supervisor sets goals and expectations for the new hire|
|Step 9||Supervisor schedules check-in meetings|
For most organizations, this process is very hectic. It does, after all, require co-operation from a bunch of different departments.
Getting this process wrong can be costly since onboarding is essentially the very first impression new employees get of the company (and hence, determining how long they’ll stick around). For example, if a new employee shows up and sees that their workstation isn’t even ready, they won’t be too impressed.
Using a workflow management tool ensures that the whole process goes smoothly, without any missed deadlines or bottlenecks.
Every company has approvals – vacation approval, time off approval, document approval, etc. In most cases, though, it’s email-based.
At the end of the day, this can be super hectic. Everyone’s throwing emails left and right, no one knows who’s supposed to sign what, and at the end of this day, this whole thing ends up being very chaotic.
With the right workflow management system, you can centralize the entire process. Rather than keeping tabs on who’s supposed to sign what, the software does this for you.
Here’s how the process would look like…
|Step 1||Employee submits vacation claim|
|Step 2||HR approves or disapproves|
|If disapproved||HR selects a reason for the decision through a drop-down menu. The employee gets an automatic notification.|
|If approved||Management signs relevant document and the employee gets notified of the decision|
Content marketing can be extremely chaotic. Trust us, we know – we’ve been doing it for over a year now.
It involves the collaboration between 4-5 different parties…
- And sometimes even Developers
So unless you’ve got a rock-solid content marketing process, the workflow won’t be as efficient as it potentially could be.
With a workflow management system, you can automate the process – the software will make sure everyone’s doing the right work, at the right time. If something goes wrong, however, you’ll be notified of any bottlenecks or problems. You can then find the root cause behind the problem and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
For an example of such a process, here’s our very own content marketing workflow…
|Step 1||Writer submits an article idea|
|Step 2||Marketer analyses the keyword|
|Step 3||Marketer gathers contacts for influencer outreach|
|Step 4||Writer create the first draft|
|Step 5||Editor polishes the piece. If the draft is unsatisfactory, steps #4-5 are repeated as many times as needed|
|Step 6||Designer creates the media files (photos, graphs, infographics)|
|Step 7||Marketer publishes the piece|
|Step 8||Marketer reaches out to relevant influencers, bloggers, and field experts to get the word out about the article|
Picking the Right Workflow System: 3 Must-Have Features
Workflow management systems tend to vary a lot: some are based on process flowcharts, others on BPMN2, and some even have their own unique approach to workflows.
This makes the process of choosing the right system extremely complicated. There are, however, 3 essential features that can differentiate the great workflow software from the good.
If you’ve ever considered adopting Business Process Management Software (the predecessor of workflow software), you’ve probably realized that it’s not that easy.
The installation can take months, cost 6-figures and need an army of trained engineers.
To avoid this, you need to look for workflow management software that is…
- Cloud-Based – Meaning, you’ll be able to start using the software instantly without having to deal with the installation. While an on-site solution is perfect for enterprises, it’s simply a pain to use for companies of any other size.
- Reasonably Priced – Today, most B2B SaaS companies charge based on # of users, have freemium models, and are generally not that expensive. You don’t want to throw away 6-figures on some software you may or may not use.
No-Code, Drag & Drop Workflow Designer
Software should be intuitive. Getting your employees used to change is hard. Having them learn how to use some complicated software is even harder.
Some workflow management systems are simply extremely difficult to use, both for the management and employees.
On one hand, the management can’t build the processes on their own. They need to employ technical staff to code the company’s business processes, which is both time-consuming and costly.
On the other hand, your employees won’t be able to use the software from the get-go. You’d need to provide special training on how to use the software (usually offered by the same solution provider).
With the right tool, though, you might be able to avoid all this. Some software providers have a no-code workflow designer. Meaning, just about anyone from your organization can create and edit processes with zero knowledge of the software.
To get the best out of your workflow management system, you need to be able to use it alongside all of your other favorite tools (Think, GoogleSuite Slack, Trello, etc.).
Not all software has the right type of integration capability, though. There are 3 different types of integrations out there…
- REST API – As with any other type of software, every workflow management tool comes with REST API. While the system itself doesn’t have integrations, you can use the API to fix something up yourself.
- In-Built – The software comes with in-built integrations with certain tools. The downside here, though, is that the options can really be limited.
- IaaS-Friendly – The workflow system works with integration-as-a-service providers (such as Zapier).
Out of the three options, you should go for either the second or the third. API integration means that your developers will have to code it from scratch, which can take a while.
In-Built is good if the software it connects with also happens to be the one you use frequently.
IaaS, on the other hand, allows you to connect with just about any SaaS software. Currently, Zapier (the most popular provider) supports integrations with over 1,000 different apps.
Picking the Right Workflow Management System – Top 5 Tools
Now that you know how to evaluate different tools, here are the top 5 workflow software solutions on the market (with their features and capabilities)…
|Tallyfy||Appian||Nintex||IBM BlueWorks Live||Bizagi|
|Popular With||SMBs, Mid-Large Companies||Enterprises||SMBs, Enterprise||Enterprise||SMBs, Enterprise|
|Process Design||Web-Based Drag & Drop||BPMN2||Web-Based Drag & Drop||BPMN2||Bizagi BPMN Modeler|
|Usability||Intuitive, No Training Required||On-Site Training Teams||Remote & On-Site Training Providers||Online Courses||Remote & On-Site Training. Online Courses|
|Installation||Cloud-Based. Instant Registration||Cloud-Based + On-Site. Registration Request||Cloud-Based + On-Site. Registration Request||Cloud-Based + On-Site||Cloud-Based + On-Site|
|Integrations||Open REST API & 3rd Party Integration Through Zapier||Manual (Through Appian Engineers)||With Specific Software Solutions||Open REST API||With Specific Software Solutions|
|Monthly Pricing||15 – 30 USD / User||90 – 180 USD / User||Quote-Based||Quote-Based||Quote-Based. 800+ USD / User|
Getting Started With Workflow Software
Before committing to any piece of software, you should be certain that it’s the one you’re sticking with.
Some of the software providers, Tallyfy included, offer either free trials or freemiums. So, give the workflow software a try and make your own decision on which one’s perfect for your business!