How to Pick the Best Workflow Management System [Tips & Examples]

Amit Kothari

in Tallyfy Workflows and BPM

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.

Read on to learn how to pick the right software for your business and take advantage of all the killer benefits workflow management offers.

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.

  Want to learn more about what workflow software is about? Read up our guide.

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.

Employee Onboarding

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.

  Need help creating your own employee onboarding process? Just steal ours!

Document Approval

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

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…

  • Writers
  • Marketers
  • Editors
  • Designers
  • 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
Want to create your own content marketing workflow, but don’t know where to start? Check out our step-by-step guide!

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.

Simple Setup

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.

Web-Based Integrations

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…

  1. 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.
  2. In-Built – The software comes with in-built integrations with certain tools. The downside here, though, is that the options can really be limited.
  3. 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.

Wondering how, exactly, can you use workflow tools with other types of systems? Read our article on business process integrations.

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)…

TallyfyAppianNintexIBM BlueWorks LiveBizagi
Popular WithSMBs, Mid-Large CompaniesEnterprisesSMBs, EnterpriseEnterpriseSMBs, Enterprise
Process DesignWeb-Based Drag & DropBPMN2Web-Based Drag & DropBPMN2Bizagi BPMN Modeler
UsabilityIntuitive, No Training RequiredOn-Site Training TeamsRemote & On-Site Training ProvidersOnline CoursesRemote & On-Site Training. Online Courses
InstallationCloud-Based. Instant RegistrationCloud-Based + On-Site. Registration RequestCloud-Based + On-Site. Registration RequestCloud-Based + On-SiteCloud-Based + On-Site
IntegrationsOpen REST API & 3rd Party Integration Through ZapierManual (Through Appian Engineers)With Specific Software SolutionsOpen REST APIWith Specific Software Solutions
Monthly Pricing15 – 30 USD / User90 – 180 USD / UserQuote-BasedQuote-BasedQuote-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!

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