In the world of businesses and agencies, managing a team or a project of any size and structure can be a difficult task without proper assistance. In addition, having to manage and organize multiple teams with separate workflows can prove quite a challenge.
Before we go into what makes proper assistance (including the top software and features), let’s first briefly define workflow management.
Workflow, sometimes synonymous with “business process”, is a sequence of smaller tasks which are a part of a larger one. Workflow management, in the simplest of terms, represents the way a company, an organization, or an agency coordinates its work and tasks.
While the main purpose of a workflow is to achieve a particular result, the purpose of workflow management is to achieve better overall results and fulfill the set business goals.
Even though workflow management principally doesn’t necessitate software, most workflow management systems use different software solutions to structure, track and automate work within an organization.
The main concern of any management discipline is the organization of the work people do, but when it comes to online businesses and digital agencies, many of the tasks can also be automated and performed by software tools and IT systems.
A quality workflow management software should allow you to design workflow as effortlessly as possible with no coding skills needed. You are responsible for coming up with the linear workflow steps, while the software deals with all the complex stuff in the background.
Workflows, as such, never operate completely independently from other services and processes. As a part of the flow, different documents, reports, transactions, calendar invites, contact information, and so on, should be seamlessly passed from your workflow management software to your CMS and other systems.
That’s why it’s vital that your workflow management tool is easy to set up and integrate.
To achieve a high level of productivity, it’s not enough just to plan and manage, you need to be able to track the results and report on those. In order to do so, your workflow management software needs to offer detailed reporting features.
Being able to follow your key performance indicators will enable you to make the necessary changes or add additional steps to your workflow so as to make sure you achieve your business goals.
The key to effective workflow management is that the processes should keep going they are done, without much additional follow-up.
How to achieve such a flow? One of the key features that can contribute to effective workflow are notifications. Whether you’re using email or push notifications, they should serve as a reminder of an upcoming task or approval. Users should have the option to customize and filter the type of notifications they receive.
Even though many workflows function as linear sequences, still, some are specific, or you can have parallel processes happening at the same time. That’s why a quality workflow management system should allow for separate branches that allow for more than one workflow at the time.
As many business processes involve sensitive company and user information (GDPR, anyone?), which is not intended to be shared with just everyone involved in the workflow, your workflow management system needs to allow you to customize who can see and edit what.
For our selection of 5 most used workflow management systems, we used Capterra as a reference source. For each of the tools given here, we chose one positive and one negative genuine user review to show you some of the real-life struggles and benefits people are having with those.
Wrike is a workflow management software that enables you to manage multiple projects, teams, and workflows so that each team can structure work to best fit their business process. It’s adequate for marketing, creative, IT, and so on.
“Multiple chart options for displaying timelines. Easy comment buttons (can just reply to an email and everything is captured). Ability to create custom folders and other set up features. Can grab a visual of a project in under 30 seconds. Customized reporting options” – Nicole H., Marketing and Advertising
Cons: “Set up is daunting. Although we paid for someone to help us set up the process, we quickly realized that their orientation instructions weren’t suited for our situation at all, so it took a few weeks for us to get everything into place. And I don’t think our situation was particularly unusual, we’re an in-house marketing department that needed to accept tickets. While Wrike is really good about constantly releasing updates, there are some common sense things that have yet to be ironed out, for example, someone requesting a project can set a due date in the past.” – Jessa D., Financial Services
Samepage is an award-winning workflow management tool that lets teams combine tasks, calendars, maps, and everything else on one page.
Pros: “This software is super easy to use. The customer service at Samepage is something that you can’t find in the technologically advanced society we live in today. If you have a problem, they will get it fixed. We found a small issue with their mobile app and brought it to their attention. Within two business days, not only had they identified the problem, they had it fixed, submitted to Apple, and I was running a new version that worked perfectly. The whole time, I was being updated by customer service letting me know exactly what step they were on. They truly care about providing the best product out there.” – Brad L., Operations Manager
Cons: “The mobile app is sometimes a little flaky, but it has improved since we started using Samepage. It is certainly not a show stopper.” – Kelvin W., Business Analyst
Process Street is an easy-to-use tool for managing your team’s workflow and recurring tasks and processes. It offers integration with more than 400 other apps.
Pros: “Great UI experience, friendly support, and feature-rich. Intuitive, super easy to use, and professional. Extensive tutorials and examples of use. Share your systems and repeat tasks without error. Collaborative workflows and procedure documents created in moments. Ability to schedule is a life-saver. All changes are auto-saved.”
Cons: “No option for sub-folders. No mobile app yet but I imagine it’s on the way. Honestly not much to complain about with this product. Developer is on top of it and very forward-thinking.” – Tim L., Chief Marketing Strategist
Bitrix24’s greatest advantage is that it offers a free version (with certain limitations, of course) that enables small businesses and agencies to easily organize their workflow without spending a fortune.
Pros: “It has more to offer than most CRMs out there, especially more than paid ones like Salesforce. You get your customer base tracking, CPQ, intranet, project and task management, and more. The best part is that most companies can use the free version to do everything. I used it with my last business which I had for 5 years, at which I had 8 employees, with 5 affiliates in other countries, and never needed to upgrade to paid version.”
Cons: “If you run into any issue with their app, they will make you upgrade, even though the very basic notion of installing and logging in shouldn’t be a $39/mo cost for life. I feel this should be the most basic working need.” – Hanne M., Marketing Director
Karbon is a workflow management platform that easily integrates with your email and ensures quality collaboration between different teams and departments.
Pros: “I love the system in general. The personal training for team members was amazing. Additionally, it is wonderful to work with a company that really listens to feedback and suggestions. There are constant improvements and upgrades that the development team rolls out based on customer needs. All of the above combined with the basic features have made the product addictive! I truly cannot imagine my workday without Karbon.”
Cons: “It’s a big investment for a small firm. I wish that the cost would come down a bit. However, if used properly this product can increase efficiency assisting to create capacity within a firm. It was also difficult to get full team “buy-in”. There is a lot of initial set-up required to create full usability; however, once the time is invested it pays HUGE dividends by way of efficiency and standardized processes.” – Chantal M., Small Business Owner