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Workflow Management Software vs BPM Software – Selection Tips

Workflow management software provides capabilities for business automation and process optimization. Workflow Management systems (WMS) enable data and document management along the whole cycle of the business process and facilitate collaboration across departments and offices. Such software is essential for quickly developing companies as it ensures precise activity tracking, visibility into delayed tasks and fully digital data and document management. A Workflow Management system is also the first choice software for those on the way from Outlook-based activity tracking towards a more system-driven approach.

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There are different workflow management applications with a varying range of capabilities available on the market. Basic capabilities include workflow automation, group task management and notifications. Advanced workflow management applications on the other hand provide visual process modeling, drag-and-drop data and process modification as well as business analytics.

Workflow Management Software vs BPM Software An example of process designed in a workflow software by Comindware with drag’n’drop simplicity.
In turn, BPM software provides a more complex approach to process management and targets enterprise grade cross-department process optimization. It serves to enable top down visibility into business critical processes and elimination of process bottlenecks. In some cases though, a workflow management software is just a piece of a BPM application.

The key value proposition of BPM software is that it enables cross-platform integration connecting enterprise applications such as CRM, ERP, Document Management portals and other – in a single environment this way providing for business critical cross-functional process automation. The main target business processes include Lead-to-Cash, Idea-to-Product, Partner and Supply Chain Management.

Both Workflow Management software and BPM systems are aimed at process modeling and automation. Their common capabilities include process design and execution, task assignment and tracking, data and document management, notifications and reporting. Add-on features include business process analysis, team collaboration as well as mobile platforms support. Both types of software are developed in a way so that users can start working in the system directly after business process modelling.

Despite the common capabilities, still there are distinct differences between these types of software and more importantly the use cases for their implementation.

Use Cases for Workflow Management Software over a BPM Tool

There are several considerations you have to observe when selecting a process automation system and choosing between workflow automation and business process management.
  • Time to set up: Workflow Management systems normally require shorter setup time and less configuration effort. While the resulting process management capabilities will be significantly broader with a BPMS, the investment will also be considerably heavier.
  • Implementation, upgrades and system expansion costs: the more complex the system, the more difficult and costly it is to change it. This way a simpler Workflow Management system may be the preferred choice in cases of small budgets and quickly changing requirements.
  • User experience: any application ultimately aims to facilitate work for its users. This way one of the most important criteria to consider is the ease of use and the user experience the application provides. Workflow Management systems render a simple UI and allow for more flexible configuration – all in all allowing to build a more intuitive and user friendly working environment.

Maria Komarova is a Product Marketing Analyst at Comindware – a global software company delivering innovative Business Operations Management solutions enabling performance and efficiency optimization.

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Posted on:  in Process World

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