A process can exist without a workflow, but a workflow cannot exist without a process. Time to put those diagrams and flowcharts into action using process workflow software!
The goal here is consistency. You want your process to be followed as closely as possible while leaving enough room for it to serve as a guide instead of a control mechanism. Process workflow starts with documentation. That documentation will take time, but will also save a lot of it once you start executing. The steps you lay out will make it easier for you and your team to navigate a project from beginning to end.
While a process is a series of steps, the workflow is how to complete those steps in a productive way. If we translate this to the tools, you will read about in this list, that means that creating the tasks (process) will not be good enough. Once you lay out the process, you will have to see which parts of it are repetitive and the optimal sequence (workflow).
Next, I will explain to you the lens I’m using to look at this process workflow software and some of the key features we should consider when selecting a tool.
What do I look for when I select the best process workflow management system? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): I look for a process workflow app that we can visually understand and is intuitive.
- Usability: I look for features or add-ons that we can use to accomplish the task at hand (creating process workflows within the tool).
- Integrations: I look at the third-party software that the tool works with. I want to see if some of those integrations can improve our experience with the app.
- Value for $: I look at whether the tool has a free version, free trial, and the starting price for their paid plans.
Process Workflow Software Key Features
- Process or Workflow builder: A piece of the software that allows me to build a process without having to program. Preferably something with a drag and drop interface where there are a variety of options and connectors to represent relationships between tasks.
- Workflow automations: The ways in which I can make trivial tasks happen on their own, like changing a task’s status, moving a task from one phase to another, or triggering an action in a 3rd party software like Slack.
- Testing Environment: A feature that will allow me to sandbox the process I have just created and see if it works or if there’s something missing.
- Whiteboards: Places where I can design diagrams or process workflows “on paper”, before I move to the creation stage and automations.
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monday.com is a work OS that can handle many parts of your project and business operations, process workflows included! Their extensive automation options make it possible for you to create a digital workflow that everyone will benefit from.
Since your first step is to map your process, you can use Canvas by monday.com to do it. Then, head over to monday.com once you have a defined workflow you want your people to follow. Open the automations by clicking on the ‘automate’ button on the top right menu of any view.
Among the many things you can automate are email notifications, status changes, assigning tasks to people, moving tasks to a different phase, and more. Important: you can always turn on and off your automations with the toggle of a switch in the board automations view.
monday.com’s integrations include project management apps like Slack, GoogleSheets, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform, and many more, accessible through a paid plan with Zapier.
monday.com is free for up to 2 users. Paid plans cost from $8/user/month and come with a 14-day free trial.
ClickUp is a custom workflow tool that I personally use because of all the features it has and how beautifully everything integrates in its platform. Handling process workflows was no exception to the rule. First, create a project and add a view called ‘whiteboards’.
Once in whiteboards, you can easily create a flowchart to help you map out your workflow. Since it’s a view, it will conveniently sit inside your project file at all times. Done? Head over to the task or board view and create the phases and tasks of your process.
Finally, head over to the automations section by clicking on the ‘automate’ button on the top-right corner of your screen. You can select from dozens of pre-made template automations or create your own.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp is free with limited storage for an unlimited number of users. Paid plans start at $5/user/month and offers a free-trial.
Kissflow’s workflow process builder enables you to create steps, add parallel branches, assign tasks dynamically, establish SLAs, and build conditions. Also, you can set permissions around who can start a process and the information they are allowed to see.
One thing I liked about Kissflow’s approach to process workflows is their testing environment. Experience what you just created as if you were a user, take notes, and modify if needed. You don’t want to be the person who created something that causes more confusion than it solves a problem.
Kissflow integrations include native Microsoft and Google Workspace integrations, and the platform offers a REST API and webhooks.
Paid plans start at $9.90/user/month and you can request a demo through their website.
Kintone lets you organize your processes and tasks into intuitive workflows. With automated reminders, approvals, and task handoffs, you can spend less time managing your work and more time focusing on what really matters.
Although it might take you a bit to know how to use this platform, once you do, you will build workflows in minutes. A shortcut you can take is to open and study one of their 100+ templates. These have been developed to help you get started with your business workflow and cover diverse industries and functional departments.
Kintone has 30+ integrations with third-party apps, including Box, Gmail, Formstack, Salesforce, Hubspot, Mailchimp, Microsoft Flow, and more. Connect with additional apps using their Zapier connector.
Kintone’s price is $24/user/month (5 user minimum) and offers a full-access 30-day trial.
Wrike is a project management software that you can use to create your process workflows. Unlike other apps in this list which have integrated diagramming tools, you might have to look within their 400+ integration library for a tool that helps you diagram. If not, time to dust off your kindergarten lessons and draw on paper.
Once you have your process though, you can start building it in Wrike. Account admins can create and edit workflows from the account settings page (see screenshot). After you save changes, the new workflow will be available to your team in their workspace.
Wrike released custom workflows mid-2021, which means you can now build a workflow for any team or business process.
Wrike offers 400+ pre-built native integrations, including integrations with the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
Wrike has a free version with a 2GB storage limit. Paid plans start at $9.80/user/month and offer a 14-day free trial.
Process Maker is a tool that focuses on process workflows. Their interactive builder lets you drag and drop to add in tasks, forms, users, data connectors, and more. However, this app is much more than a diagramming tool. It will connect to other apps, so your processes sync across platforms.
With Process Maker, you can build an too. I can easily add approvers to specific steps and select if I want to receive their approvals using an email client like Microsoft Outlook or a communication platform like Slack.
Process Maker has authentication connectors for SSO, document management connectors for apps like Docusign, Adobe Sign, Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP, and process connectors. All in all, it will help you connect to ERPs, CRMs, and productivity platforms.
Pricing is available upon request.
Process Street is a workflow management platform where you can build your process workflows in a collaborative environment. Simply invite the users that you want to build a process with and set permissions on who can see, run, edit, or build any workflow
The builder is mainly form-based from what I’m able to see. After you define your workflow stages, each stage can be edited as a “landing page” where the user might see some text, a video, table, or relevant information to their stage. These forms can be interactive by including things like drop-down menus with tailored option selection messages.
Finally, once the user completes the information you requested, they can send it to the next stage where someone else can pick up the work.
Process Street integrates with thousands of apps through Zapier, as well as Google Workspace, Jira, Salesforce, Bamboo HR, and more.
Process Street is free for one workflow. Paid plans start at $25/user/month and have a 14-day free trial.
Asana’s workflow builder will help you create the critical steps in your process in minutes. These may include form submissions, approval workflows, or actions within your project that will trigger an automation in another software. Example: creating a case in Jira when a form is submitted.
The drag and drop nature of this builder will help you build your workflow regardless of your programming experience, although it could help you grasp the logic even faster. You can also add rules to tasks outside of this builder by clicking on the ‘customize’ button inside your project board.
Note: Each time you create a rule, Asana will flag it in your list view with a lightning icon.
Asana integrates with Microsoft Teams, Adobe Creative Cloud, JIRA Cloud, Salesforce, Tableau, Slack, Clockwise, MS Office 365, Google Calendar, Gmail, Power BI, Outlook, ServiceNow, JotForm, Google Drive, Looker, Vimeo, DropBox, Trello, GitLab, and a growing list of other apps. Plus, a plan with Zapier or Tray.io can let you access other apps to connect with Asana.
Asana is free for up to 15 users. Paid plans start at $10.99/user/month and offer a 30-day free trial.
Trello is a card-based software that became famous for its kanban boards and task management lists. By nature, the kanban boards are arranged into columns that represent different stages of a process. Therefore, you can diagram your process in a notebook, decide on the stages, and then create them in Trello.
In theory, once you have those columns, your team will know that for a card to move to the next stage it needs to have completed the tasks from the previous stage. If you want to go one step further, you can use a power-up called workflows.
Workflows is fully integrated with the Trello boards, and makes it possible to constraint cards transitioning from and to specific lists. This way, for example, if someone wants to move a card and skip a stage, the software will prevent the move and display an error message.
Great addition to the already process-oriented stages in a kanban board, if you ask me!
Trello has workflows and other power-ups such as Processes for Trello, Card Repeater, and Board workflow. Trello integrates with more than 200 apps and tools your team depends on like Slack, Google Drive, Salesforce, Dropbox and more directly into your Trello boards. (Note: Some connections require an additional subscription fee.)
Trello has a free plan and paid ones start at $5/user/month with a 14-day trial.
SAP Process Automation is an enterprise-grade multi-cloud platform that allows you to build processes and process workflows with zero coding. Their drag-and-drop interface is intuitive and packed with useful stuff to add to your workflow like automations, conditional branches, a second workflow or content from a library.
You can also create software robots to substitute some of the menial recurring tasks like importing information from a spreadsheet or copying information between applications or browser windows. Definitely something to consider after you map your process and identify the boring, time-consuming tasks.
Their process automation store has over 300 pre-built robots that can do tasks for you or integrate with third-party apps.
A free version is available for 1 user with a limit of 600 jobs. Paid plans start at $16/user/month, but you need the SAP Launchpad Service first. Definitely not for small companies.
14 days free trial
|From $8/user/month||Check out monday.com|
Offers a free-trial
|From $5/user/month||Check out ClickUp|
Request a demo through their website
|From $9.90/user/month||Check out Kissflow|
30 days free trial
|From $24/user/month (5 user minimum)||Check out Kintone|
14 days free trial
|From $9.80/user/month||Check out Wrike|
|Pricing upon request||Check out Process Maker|
14 days free trial
|From $25/user/month||Check out Process Street|
30 days free trial
|From $10.99/user/month||Check out Asana|
14 days free trial
|From $5/user/month||Check out Trello|
Free version is available for 1 user with a limit of 600 jobs
|From $16/user/month||Visit Website|
What do you think about this list?
I would love to hear your thoughts on how you map your processes, define your workflows and automate your solutions. Let me know in the comments if you have any tools you would like me to add to the ‘other tools’ section.
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