Workflow management is an important process to understand, especially in this era of widespread remote work. Even more important is workflow management software, the vehicle through which workflows, campaigns, projects and tasks are managed. In this article, we’ll review some the basics of workflow management, learn about the best workflow management softwares, and highlight some of the features that every workflow management solution should have.
What Is Workflow Management?
To kick things off, let’s dig into the definition of workflow management. Workflow management is defined as the coordination of tasks that builds up within a team or organization to complete a larger project. “Workflow” itself is just the broad term for a collection of individual tasks that are completed to achieve a larger goal in process, and the “management” part of the phrase just means that there is someone or something overseeing overall strategy. A key part of understanding workflow is that it has to be a repeatable process that can happen many times in succession.
To look a little more into the concept of “workflow” on it’s own, it’s imperative to understand that the three components of workflow are as follows:
- Input – The things you must contribute to start a task.
- Transformation – The things that happen during the task.
- Output – The result of completing the task. An output can also act as the beginning or “input” of another step.
For example, if you’re working at Starbucks (who is a Hive customer, by the way), the workflow would be the management of orders and creation of the drinks. The input would be the order, the transformation would be the brewing of the coffee, and the output would be the delivery of the drink to the customers.
When we start to think about workflow management software, that would be a system that aids in the completion of workflows and oversees repeatable processes from a macro-level perspective.
Essential Components of Workflow Management Software
Now that we’ve covered the basics of workflow and workflow management, let’s talk about some of the essential components of workflow management software that each software will need to help teams succeed.
- Clearly defined, repeatable processes – Every workflow management software needs a way to take a task or project through a process with a rinse-and-repeat nature.
- Macro-level views to monitor progress – To optimize workflows in a workflow management software, users need to be able to monitor project or campaign progress over time.
- Integrations with other apps – The whole point of a workflow management software is to make the flow of tasks and projects smooth. This means integrating with existing tools to streamline processes.
- Analytics and reporting features – To continue to iterate on a workflow and process, you need to be able to determine how productive and successful you were, which means you must have a reporting feature in your workflow management software.
The Best Workflow Management Software
With all of these needs in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best workflow management systems on the market.
Hive is a powerful process and project management tool used by teams at Google, Starbucks, Comcast and Toyota. This is a great option for teams managing workflows, specifically in the creative space, as Hive has a few critical features that make it a great option:
- Project templates which allow clear, defined and repeatable processes for tasks and projects that go through Hive.
- Forms and automation capabilities that easily digest inputs and information.
- Flexible project views including Gantt, portfolio, calendar and more to manage macro-level project progress.
- Robust analytics that can measure real-time progress on a team and individual level.
- Over 1,000 integrations with tools you know and love like Zoom, Slack and Gmail.
Kissflow is a great project and process management tool built to boost productivity, help teams visualize workflows, define responsibility amongst team members, and keep everyone on the same page inside an organization. Here are a few features that make Kissflow a great option for workflow management:
- Fully customizable forms that help automate and streamline workflow.
- Access control that defines roles and responsibilities across the organization.
- Actionable reports and analytics that provide key insight into overall workflow.
- Integration friendly tool.
ClickUp is a tool that can help you streamline workflows and project plans while managing resourcing across your team. The simple, visually appealing tool is used by teams all over the world to keep their work on track. There are a few reasons that ClickUp could be the workflow management software for you, including:
- Automation templates that let users create specialized templates to automate portions of their workflow.
- Project views including Gantt, calendar and timeline view.
- Reporting that allows you to create custom dashboards.
Since joining forces with 10,000 feet, Smartsheet is a great option for managing not only workflow, but also resourcing across a team. Smartsheet is largely based in an Excel-type format, which helps teams easily envision next steps and action items. A few things that make Smartsheet a great workflow management software:
- Workflow automation across projects and tasks.
- Flexible project layouts that include Gantt and table view for task visualization.
- Integrations with tools like Microsoft and Google Apps.
- Enhanced resourcing capabilities.
Pipefy is a workflow management software that helps teams request data, execute on tasks, and report successes throughout their projects and campaigns. With their low-code workflow development process, teams across the world have come to rely on Pipefy for their workflow management needs. A few additional things that make Pipefy a great workflow management software:
- Plug-and-play templates that can help structure overall workflows and processes.
- Custom low-code workflows to streamline work.
- Visibility into workflows from across the organization when needed.
Airtable is a great option if you’re looking for a workflow management tool because of it’s unique Excel-like framework. This tool is used by teams all over the world, and it’s ability to function as a high-powered spreadsheet has made it a fan favorite for workflow management. A few additional aspects of Airtable that make it a great workflow management software:
- Ability to create a customizable database for all projects and tasks
- Flexible templates that you can apply to projects
- Grid, calendar, gallery and Kanban view that allow you to view projects in the way that works best for you
- Pre-built apps to level up your experience
Backlog is a great platform that brings project management and code management together in one streamlined place. With Backlog, you and your team can track project progress easily with Gantt and Kanban, utilize the bug tracker to triage any product bugs, and utilize a backlog for team collaboration. A few additional aspects of Backlog that make it a great workflow management software:
- File sharing capabilities for teams
- Ability to create a team-wide Wiki
- Notifications to alert teammates to pending or updated items
- Mobile application for work on-the-go
Scoro is an all-in-one workflow management software built to help teams get all their work done from one place. This tool is great for workflow management because it provides one single dashboard where you can track real-time progress, and collaborate on the associated tasks. A few additional aspects of Scoro that make it a great workflow management software:
- Dynamic dashboards that track real-time results
- Automated flow of business information
- Over 1,000 integrations with other tools
Overall, there are a few key attributes, which we’ve outlined, that make specific softwares ideal for workflow management. Hopefully you’ve been able to identify one from our list that could help your organization stay productive and efficient.