Types of workflow systems. Which one to implement in your company?



The criteria for segmenting the workflow systems available on the market can be many. Below are some of the perspectives.

1. Method of implementation

  • Low-code / no-code – configuration is done in the GUI using drag-and-drop, adding pre-built elements, etc.
  • Requiring coding and thus developer involvement

2. Licensing

  • Open source – open software in which the source code is released under a license by which the copyright holder grants users the rights to examine, change and distribute the software
  • Purchase of software licenses – exclusive or non-exclusive. Usually in this case the client pays for the license, implementation and maintenance
  • Subscription – software as a service (SaaS) – a service model that allows a client to use an application in the cloud infrastructure via, for example, a browser.

3. Data storage location

  • Cloud – a wide network of remote servers located in various places around the world
  • Client infrastructure (On Premises) – server, memory, software are physically located and managed within the client organization

4. Prices

  • Free – these are extremely few, and truly free probably only one
  • Trial – free use for a limited time
  • Limited scope – there is a free version, but it has significant limitations, such as the number of users, instances, processes, functionality, etc.
  • Paid – each form of use is paid for

Which to choose?

If you are convinced that your organization needs a workflow system (you can read about what a workflow system is and whether it is worth implementing here), then it’s time to act.
There are at least a few ways. Here we will address two of them.

By the Book

  1. Find an analyst, preferably an external one not affiliated with a single software vendor, to help your organization determine what processes should be included in the scope of the implementation, and then define them. Our experience suggests that it’s a good idea to start with a limited scope, such as two key processes, and only implement others in successive stages. Implementing ten at once will take “ages” and carry a high risk of failure.
  2. On the basis of the analysis, choose a system and a software provider. In our opinion, the key is to be guided by the criterion of the chance of implementation success (unfortunately, many IT implementations fail). Of course, in the real world there will be many factors that will limit your options and force you to make compromises, the most obvious of which will be budget.
  3. Sign a contract so that your interests are protected. Pay attention to, among other things, copyright, maintenance costs, the possibility and cost of modification when your needs change, and even the permissibility of changing suppliers if for some reason you were no longer comfortable with your chosen one.
  4. Take care of issues related to integrations with external systems. Remember that this important area is likely to involve multiple parties (different vendors), check technical and formal possibilities. If you are changing the system – discuss issues of migration of historical data.
  5. Implement a workflow system and enjoy the results. Monitor, modify, streamline and expand to more business areas.

Who is this path for?

  • you can budget significant resources for preparatory work, implementation and subsequent maintenance,
  • the processes you are thinking about are critical to your organization (e.g., they are its core business),
  • you have enough time,
  • your organization has adequate resources (analytical, substantive, IT, legal, etc.) or can acquire them.

In Vogue

Do it yourself or with a little help.

This path has many enthusiasts, but also a large group of opponents.

To use an analogy, one can cite an example from the furniture industry. We can order a piece of furniture created to our order based on a unique design; or we can order a ready-made product, which will be delivered to us and assembled by a professional team, which in some cases will also make minor modifications – to fit our needs. Finally, we can use a ready-made product, which we ourselves will bring home and assemble based on instructions – often modular, which will allow many modifications and adjustments. Of course, in the latter case, too, it is possible to use external support – not necessarily the manufacturer.
There are workflow systems on the market that are quick and easy to implement, which of course may (although not necessarily) involve making many compromises. The providers of some of them will not allow, for example, installations on your server, modifications, integrations, flat-rate billing unrelated to the number of users, instances, space, etc.
However, there are also those that are not particularly different from the so-called traditional ones, and allow you to start with simpler and cheaper implementations, while at the same time giving you the opportunity to later migrate to more complex versions with extensive capabilities.

Who is this route for?

  • you don’t have a big budget (or maybe you don’t have one at all),
  • you want to test different possibilities before reaching for a target solution,
  • the system you are looking for is to handle less critical processes, such as in the back office,
  • you don’t have time for a long implementation – the processes are supposed to take off in a few weeks (or maybe even days).

I can’t make a decision

Which of these paths is better for your organization depends on many factors.

When you can’t decide, consider the following approach:
Use gateway #2 (In Vogue) in the least expensive form possible, thinking about both the cost of the software and your or an external involvement. Adopting such a solution is a good test of whether a workflow system will even take hold in your company and fulfill its role.
It may show that it is sufficient and you don’t need to invest in anything more expensive. Or it may show that you definitely need to look for another system or method of implementation, but then both you and your organization will already be at a completely different level of knowledge and will know exactly what to look for when making the target choice.

Check how to start cooperation with us here: How to get started with Dew-X?

See also