10 Features Every Workflow Management System Should Have

Neil Miller

March 30th, 2017 workflow  

Many companies look to a Workflow Management System to scale up their productivity. They do a quick Google search, and then opt for a workflow system with good ratings and flashy features.

Workflow

 

However, most of these Workflow Management Systems have the same effect on organizations: they bring everything to a standstill.

Organizations rightly demand that these highly-priced products should fit like a glove, but most of them do not deliver like you would expect. They are difficult to use, bloated with unnecessary features, and don’t give any power to anyone outside the ‘control room’.

Whatever the state of your workflow management, using the right WMS tool is critical.

What is a Workflow Management System?

Workflow management system (can sometimes also be called a workflow management software), is a type of software that helps businesses take control of their routine processes and help them manage better.

What does a Workflow Management System do?

When you are in the market for a WMS, you are looking for something that:

  • Allows individuals to automate repetitive processes
  • Follows up automatically on uncompleted tasks in the process
  • Gives an overall picture of the workflow along with performance metrics

To get the true value for money that a WMS promises, it should at least have these 10 essential features. Don’t settle for something that can’t keep up with your sequence of operations and doesn’t deliver on productivity.

10 Features Every Workflow Management System Should Have

1. Create in Business Steps, not Technical Activities

If you ask a process owner to create a workflow, she is likely to draw a straight line with key steps in the process, each requiring input, approval, or denial.

If you ask a programmer to make software for this workflow, it will start looking like the family tree of Oedipus.

A great Workflow Management System let’s you think in simple linear loops and does all the complex stuff in the background.

2. WYSIWYG Form Designer

When you design a form, you want to make sure all of your hard work pays off so that someone instantly knows how to fill it out the moment they see it. Therefore, the form designer is a vitally important piece that should let you see in real time what your form will look like for your users. Your form designer should be simple and intuitive and shouldn’t require a consultant to walk you through it.

3. Cloud-Based Technology

To chose a Workflow Management System that is not cloud-based is a step backwards. Users should be able give approvals and access data and reports from any location at any time. Cloud-based software also prevents you from having to make huge upfront investments in software that has to be continually updated.

4. KPI-based Reports

When you first automate a workflow, you are entering a testing ground. What you thought was running smoothly might be taking much longer than you anticipated. You may realize you need a new step, or find that you have too many steps. A robust KPI-based reporting function in your WMS will let you see and analyze where the bottlenecks are and where to focus your attention.

5. SLA Status Indicators

Once you start automating one process, you will likely think of several more that can also be automated. When you are looking over 3-10 processes at a glance, you want to know quickly which ones are on track and which ones are in need of attention. The dashboard of your WMS should use color codes or a similar tool to draw your attention to the most pressing workflows.

6. Notifications When and Where you Need Them

People will abandon and forget a platform if they are not reminded to come back in. An effective business Workflow Management System will send notifications via email or push notifications on your mobile to remind you of upcoming approvals. Users should also be able to customize the kind of notifications they receive.

7. Parallel Branches

All workflows are sequential, but some are special. Some sequential steps can happen at the same time. Take a travel reimbursement. It usually needs a manager’s approval, but instead of coming up with seven different workflows for each department, you can create one workflow that follows a different track depending on which department the requester chooses on the form. Adding this kind of complexity should be easy and shouldn’t require a degree in computer science.

8. Role-Based Access Control

Many workflows contain sensitive information that is not intended to be shared with everyone in the process. Every Workflow Management System should allow you to customize what each individual user can see and edit. Making a quick change to this part of the workflow should not break it or affect historical requests.

9. Integration with Other Cloud Services

Workflows do not operate independently of other processes. Documents, sales reports, cash-flows, calendars, and contact details are all important elements that must be included as a part of the workflow itself. While most Workflow Management Systems will allow you to upload documents, the best ones will integrate seamlessly with services like Google Calendar, Zendesk, Quickbooks, SAP, and SalesForce.

10. Pay As You Go

Why should you be expected to invest a huge amount of capital into a software that may cause you more trouble than it is worth? What if you only want to automate one process between a few people? Do you still need to invest a lot of money? The best Workflow Management Systems operate on a monthly pay-as-you-go model where the fees are all inclusive of running costs and you only pay for the number of users accessing the system.

As you investigate your options, keep these 10 things in mind. Don’t settle for something less than amazing when it comes to keeping your workflows quick and seamless.

  • Hasan Alsaify

    what is the risk when we use workflow ?

    • Neil Miller

      You already use workflows to get work done – it’s just that you use manual workflows. When you add automation, you can program a system to handle some tasks, generate data, allow for tracking of items, and notify others when a task needs to begin. As long as you trust the system you are using, there isn’t much risk at all.

  • mori

    what is the Features and advantages of this system compared to other business processes management systems?

    • Neil Miller

      Here is an honest comparison with one other BPMS:
      https://kissflow.com/bpm/kissflow-vs-processmaker/

      The key things you want to look at are:
      >The language of the process builder. Does the builder need to know BPMN 2.0, or is it easy for any user to create?
      >Is it cloud-based, or do you have to manage all the data yourself, on-premise?
      >How good are the reporting features? What comes built-in and what can be customized?
      >Integrations. What other applications can you connect with, out-of-the-box, what can you use a service like Zapier to connect, what can you connect on your own with APIs, etc?

      KiSSFLOW compares differently with many BPMS products out there, but you can use these metrics and the areas that we mostly differ from the others.

      • mori

        Thank you for guidance.
        But my goal, in particular, the comparison between Bonita and KISSFLOW.
        What features and advantages of this system compared to Bonita BPM company?

        • Neil Miller

          Sure thing. Give us a bit of time and we’ll make one especially for you!

          • mori

            Thank you
            I am impatiently waiting for your answer

  • LJ

    Lots of people were quite happy with Metastorm 7.6/Opentext MBPM 7.6, but the company business model was to sell development and consultancy days, so version 9 onwards became a C# mess which the staff they already trained wouldn’t use. It was a major step back.