Workflow management software can be a worthwhile option to develop an organized method of streamlining a team’s processes. These systems enable organizations to establish and monitor tasks within the system, so teams can stay on track. Furthermore, the automation and collaboration features can support a workforce’s functions and productivity.
Below are some of the most popular workflow management software solutions available for businesses and organizations in 2022.
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Companies use workflow management software (WfM or WfMS) to automate and facilitate the movement of documents and forms between companies, stakeholders, and teams. Beginning in the mid 1990s, companies have used WfMS to hasten document sharing and automatically fill forms that previously required redundant processes. WfM programs remove manual steps that would otherwise slow time to ship for manufacturing, health, education, service, and many more industries.
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Companies who continue to use manual processes to share documents and move information between individuals and teams will find their time spent on paperwork and loss of documents through human error significantly decreased upon implementation.
As an added benefit, many companies experience what’s known as the workflow management paradox. Companies that go through the process of implementing a WfM software will find that they actually need a different system of productivity, but would not have recognized that fact without trying to implement the software.
Due to the popularity of these tools, the market and usage of WfMS is broad and varied. This guide will outline the features of the best workflow management tools and give an overview of the top solutions on the market.
Workflow management software and applications can support many functions and processes within an organization. These systems are designed to connect all team members and areas of a workforce to facilitate effective collaboration with communication and productivity tracking features.
The ability to track the productivity of members and work processes can also be beneficial, as having an awareness of the status of other work processes can enable teams to work together and avoid errors. Moreover, automated features and capabilities can be advantageous, as they reduce time spent on menial tasks and increase workers’ productivity.
Workflow management systems can also provide complete visibility over each production area, so workforce leaders can quickly determine where problems lie and develop ways to remediate them. Many tools even provide data analysis capabilities, allowing users to gain valuable insights into their workflows.
These are just some of the ways that workflow management software can improve an organization’s efficiency, productivity, and teamwork.
The best workflow management software improves processes across your company by speeding production time, helping identify inefficiencies in your processes, and allowing previously sequential processes to work in tandem. An early example of implementing workflows into the business process is Toyota’s adaptation of the assembly line into a lean process that saved up to 400 percent production time, cutting quality costs by 60 percent.
Workflow management software has come a long way since early iterations that transferred the idea of Ford’s assembly line to software, industrial, and business processes. The increasing complications of business systems have in turn spurred growth of features in WfMS. Below are some of the features you should consider during your search for workflow management software.
Software solutions often use automation to help users save time and streamline their work processes. For example, Hive enables users to create customized automated workflows for recurring tasks, so they can eliminate repetition and quickly set their plans into motion.
Workflow management software and other enterprise solutions can generate and collect data from organizations and user processes. These tools may then take that information and use it to create reports with valuable metrics that can be used to develop actionable insight and make decisions.
Reminders and alerts are often utilized to notify recipients of important events. In workflow management solutions, these reminders are often generated for the purpose of informing users that a task requires their attention. ClickUp, for example, uses this feature to send reminders to users about their tasks that they can then snooze, reschedule, or delegate to other team members.
Storage space can be helpful in workforce software solutions for storing information like files and documents. In addition, storage space enables users to share this information with other organization members. Process Street is one solution that allows users to upload and store files for use within their workloads.
With Gantt charts, users can visualize aspects of their tasks, scheduling, and workload management processes. Backlog’s software provides Gantt charts that enable users to view and manage their workloads and active projects. This way, they can easily view their project deadlines and prioritize their urgent tasks.
Because of its ubiquity, workflow management software takes many forms, from coded systems to visual GUI interfaces, and even coding languages. Seek the advice of stakeholders and potential users before committing to any system. You may not find the best workflow management system for all users, but you will find options that fit most needs.
One distinction you’ll find in many workflow solutions is between database vs. messaging systems. The difference between these two lies in their architecture and how users interact with them. Database systems work as a central repository for all documents, letting anyone in the company access and update based on tasks. Message-based workflow management, on the other hand, alerts users when documents need approval or updates. Once completed, those documents move to the next user along the workflow. Choosing between these two types of systems depends on the type of processes you build into your workflow and the level of attention your users will need to sustain.
Another major consideration when you’re implementing WfMS is who will be using the product. Developers often prefer a code-enabled system that lets them work in the language they already spend most of their days working in. If the majority of your users are non-technical, on the other hand, you may want to investigate visual workflows that use a GUI.
To further complicate matters, coded workflows should fit within the larger coding languages that your company works with. If your company uses mostly Windows tools, you’ll find greater success with those workflows that build in .NET, the language of Windows. Other systems may work in Java, though, so if you’re uncertain which will best serve your company, make sure you poll your IT and development teams before committing to a system. This will also help your team understand how much internal IT work is required to implement the software, and whether you should hire outside consultants to speed onboarding.
As with any business software, implementing a workflow management system will require a poll of the security needs of the company. On-premise workflow solutions are available to companies that require added security and customization. These systems may require more IT interaction and expensive license upgrades, but they also ensure the company retains full control of data and implementation.
Workflow management software’s ubiquity is so complete that it often comes as a standard integration within larger systems. You’ll find WfMS modules within ERP, CRM, call center, or BPM programs. Many of these systems prove too bulky and confusing for companies first moving to a workflow solution, but if your company already uses one of these, it may be worthwhile to investigate those products before purchasing or subscribing to an entirely new system.
Integrations with your existing tech stack are always important to consider. As you compare solutions, it might be helpful to list the other products that are integral to your workflows, including your database, email, and document management systems. Research which WfMS supports these, or the difficulty of building new connections.
Company: DIRECTV is an American digital satellite provider for the U.S. and Central America. The company uses a network of contractors and subcontractors to provide satellite TV services to over 32 million users in their coverage area.
Challenge: DIRECTV required a workflow management software to speed delivery and organize paperwork within their subcontractor network. The solution needed to be scalable, reasonably priced, and cloud-based. The time to implementation needed to be below the internal estimates of at least a year for a custom-built product. After extensive research, DIRECTV settled on TrackVia Workflow Management.
Results: DIRECTV cites over 325 hours of saved time per quarter in paperwork and organizational tasks within the first year of use. TrackVia was able to pull together the right applications for DIRECTV within a matter of weeks, and the team implemented the new system after only a single day of group training. TrackVia’s system made enough of a difference in the subcontractor sector that DIRECTV soon rolled out a similar solution to its global network.
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Workflow management software can be a great option for anyone looking to streamline their team’s workflow processes. To choose the best solution for your organization’s needs, consider what value their features and capabilities can provide for optimizing your team’s progress and execution.
For example, teams looking to cut down on timely processes may benefit from tools with automated features. And leaders looking to enhance their team’s productivity may find greater value in solutions with reporting and analytic capabilities.
TechnologyAdvice has a range of the top workflow management software tools in the Products tab above, which is a great place to start your research. You can also contact one of our Technology Advisors for a free consultation on which workflow management solution works best for your team.