24/01/2024 |

Workflow management system: definition, benefits, tips

Good workflow management requires the right system. This article explains how the system adds value and key things to consider when selecting a tool.

Definition: What is a workflow management system?

A workflow management system is used to analyze, control and monitor a company’s workflows and business processes. It documents the steps involved in reaching a desired outcome. Using automation, the system guides teams step-by-step through the various tasks of the specified workflow.

How does a workflow management system work?

A workflow management system executes previously defined workflows based on rules and ensures that these are adhered to – tasks completed, approvals acquired, data updated, etc. As a result, manual effort is reduced, the quality of the results increases and information arrives reliably.

A workflow management tool helps the business and its teams by

Modeling the workflow

The first step is to highlight the steps involved and the existing conditions, resources and criteria for reaching a goal. A workflow diagram helps with this. They system typically allows for a diagram to be created and stored within it.


Workflow management software assigns tasks to the appropriate users, groups or teams – based on defined rules, employee skills and other criteria. This may include notifying teams about tasks, gathering approvals, starting sub-processes or exchanging data with other systems.


Workflow management tools track how each step in the workflow is progressing. This allows the status of individual tasks and the entire workflow to be checked in real time.

Data and information management

The workflow tool makes it possible to operate good information management and assign data to workflows. Integrated document management functions can be used to automatically create and manage documents so that the required information is always available.

Reporting and analysis

Reporting and analysis functions help to monitor the performance of workflows. This also allows potential difficulties and areas for improvement to be identified at an early stage.

Continuous improvement

In terms of process optimization, continuous improvements can be made on the basis of analyses and empirical values, for example to act more efficiently and purposefully and to avoid errors.

Advantages of a workflow management system

Using software solutions improves the quality of workflows and associated processes, as well as the outcomes of the goal they are trying to achieve. This goes hand in hand with shorter throughput times, lower costs, more transparency and better satisfaction.

A proper system has the following advantages:

  • Coordination of workflows – often between different teams and departments
  • Process standardization
  • More efficient processes through workflow automation
  • Cost savings
  • Optimized use of resources
  • More transparency and an overview of workflows
  • Better quality control and task handling
  • Adherence to regulations and increased compliance
  • Optimized team collaboration and higher employee satisfaction
  • Improved customer satisfaction

A supporting tool is therefore crucial for efficient workflow management. It helps to ensure an overview of existing workflows and to optimize them.

Examples of workflows with software support

In the work environment, teams encounter numerous sequences of repetitive steps. With a workflow management solution, these ultimately become workflows. The tool not only orchestrates the individual steps, but also optimizes the entire workflow – providing a better overview, fewer errors and more efficient work.

Example #1: “Vacation request”

For a new vacation request, an employee opens a tool and enters their name and the relevant data. He then sends the request, which the line manager receives in his inbox via automation. The supervisor checks and approves it, after which the employee receives a confirmation. The software has controlled the workflow.

Example #2: “Invoice approval”

An invoice is received by email, which is forwarded to the right employee via a system connection. The employee checks the invoice and compares its total with the available budget.

She approves the invoice and forwards it to the responsible manager. The manager then releases the invoice and the finance department makes the payment. Finally, the invoice and the associated documents are archived.

Tips for using workflow management systems

When it comes to workflow management, it is important to use the relevant tools in a well thought-out, goal-oriented manner and with clear intentions.

The following tips will help you to use a workflow management platform effectively.

Technical tips for selection

  1. Conduct a thorough analysis: Before implementation, it is advisable to clearly identify which exact processes need improvement and where any bottlenecks or weaknesses exist. Talk with all teams involved and also consider how these workflows impact the business overall.
  2. Map out implementation timelines: Many companies neglect to estimate how long it will take to set up workflow management software. Make sure your selection can be up and running quickly: it should not take many months or years before such a system can be used effectively.
  3. Focus on low-code option: Extensive programming knowledge is traditionally required to develop or modify software. Modifications and automation are much easier with low-code solutions, because changes can be made much more quickly if necessary. 
  4. Clarify hosting: In order to have secure data and achieve compliance, determine where the provider of a cloud-based workflow management solution has its servers and what their security posture is like. Do your due diligence regarding this topic.


Tips for tool usage

  1. Uncover automation potential: If there are opportunities for automated workflows in a system, companies should make use of them. To do this, it must be clear where exactly the potential lies. For each step in a workflow, evaluate if automation is a possibility.
  2. Expand your team’s tool knowledge. Take advantage of any training offered by the provider: Get the knowledge upfront to maximize your usage of the solution – to understand the wide variety of features that exist and the amount of automation that’s possible.
  3. Set a time frame: It is advisable to set times for digital workflows and the individual work steps: When exactly does something start and when does something end?
  4. Pay attention to user-friendliness: In general, a workflow management solution must be easy to use so that employees accept it and benefit from it sufficiently.
  5. Continuously monitor and optimize: The topic of workflow management is never really finished. If you constantly monitor and improve workflows using a system, you increase the chances of having efficient workflows in the long term.


Workflow related topics

Workflow management software has a number of connections to other relevant topics. The most important of these are explained here.

Workflow management system and business process management (BPM)

Workflows are often subordinate to processes – and so process management and workflow management tools clearly belong together. Where BPM manages and optimizes business processes, a workflow platform designs individual work steps smoothly and efficiently.

Workflow management system and business process management software (BPMS)

Workflow management deals with work steps: The appropriate people should process the right tasks in the correct order. Process management, on the other hand, deals with higher-level contexts, for example which business processes can be used to achieve goals.

Workflow management software helps employees to carry out tasks effectively, whereas a BPMS analyzes and improves business processes. Workflow management is an important part of process management.

Workflow management system and workflow engine

A workflow engine is an important part of a workflow management system. It automates sub-processes and enables them to run smoothly. The “engine” carries out improvements, whereby the system as a whole is also used for analysis, for example.

Workflow management systems and information flows

In workflow management, it is increasingly important that documents and information reach the right people at the right time. Where a workflow management system largely orchestrates work steps (including the necessary documents) and promotes good communication, it creates targeted information flows. The software is therefore also used for information management and document management.

Conclusion: System-supported workflow management improves work processes

Workflow management systems prove to be extremely helpful in creating, optimizing and automating workflows. They help with gaining an overview of the individual process steps and then orchestrating the work involved in completing it. In doing so, the advantages range from efficient processes and cost savings to more satisfied employees.

Above all, the system should make daily work easier.

Find out how OTRS can support your workflow management.

Contact our experts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

OTRS Newsletter

Lesen Sie mehr über Produkt-Features, interessante Tipps und Events im OTRS Newsletter.

Wir nutzen Keap. Datenschutzerklärung
OTRS newsletter

Read more about product features, interesting tips and events in the OTRS newsletter.

We use Keap. Privacy policy