BPM vs workflow software: Which is right for you?

For many people in the business world, the terms “workflow” and “business process automation” are synonymous. This is unfortunate, because workflow management software and BPM workflow software are two different beasts, each designed to serve a separate purpose for a company. For businesses, understanding the differences is key to taking advantage of what each solution has to offer. It is only by understanding what separates workflow from BPM that one can decide which tool is best for a particular company.


What is workflow management software?


According to Gartner, workflow technology has been around for more than two decades, and has allowed countless companies to improve the interactions between software systems and the people who use them. Workflow software gives organizations a way to coordinate systematized and manual tasks so the efficiency of both is improved. While it originally existed in many variations, it has now become a free-standing technology that is used across a range of applications.


Workflow management software can be found in many different forms, based on what it has been specialized to accomplish. Some of these iterations include workflows for different areas of business, such as human resources, accounting, shipping, sales, marketing and customer support.


What is BPM software?


BPM workflow software is a newer approach to coordinating work – one that attempts to tackle the problem holistically and cover all of a company’s resources. BPM also coordinates the interactions between manual and systematized tasks, but instead of doing so for a single application or discipline, it synergizes every task within a company using the same approach across all of these systems. It is designed to be familiar to any employee who has access to the system.


How are they different?


Workflow software technology has proven incredibly useful, and continues to provide specific solutions to various situations faced by an array of businesses. However, there are substantial advantages offered by BPM technologies. As a more advanced iteration of tried and true workflow technology, BPM takes what works best in workflow and improves it.


With workflow automation software, if a company needed a workflow solution for sales, it could create a specific workflow for the department. This would not be difficult to accomplish, especially using the improved design systems that are now available. Once a company created the workflow, it could use this as needed – but only in the sales department. A company would have to develop a new workflow for each department and then train each department how to use the software.


On the other hand, if a company implemented a BPM system, the majority of departments would already be accounted for. Ideally, everyone would receive training on the new system and department-specific workflows would be integrated into any department where they could be of benefit. Even if no ready-made solutions existed, it would be easy enough to create a new one using the existing template provided by the business process management software provider.


Which solution should you choose?


There are still many companies that use workflow management software exclusively. If the need for workflow software is limited to a few areas of an enterprise, there may be no real need to install a full software solution to automate business processes.


For businesses that want the highest level of control over all of their systems, along with greater data collection and analyzing abilities, business process management software is the obvious choice.


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