Posted on June 18, 2013 · Posted in Decisions, Workflow

Efficiency is changing the face of businesses forever. Workflow solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Workflow automation software has turned into a ubiquitous enterprise backdrop for most businesses, the same way a logo is part and parcel of official correspondences.

For the uninitiated, a workflow solution is a niche software that uses database servers to optimize and simplify existing workflows. By and large, it is an engine working in the background to efficiently move your work sequences forward – on time, on budget and according to end-product specifications.

The workflow solution also integrates documents into actions such as sending e-mail, saving and sharing of necessary documentation or identifying “high-alert tasks” based on a number of criteria such as target date, inadequate information, erroneous execution, among others.

Workflow engines and the question of necessity

While many companies attest to the effectiveness of workflow solutions, others are still not certain whether to follow in the footsteps of their peers who have already taken the plunge. Their hesitation, of course, is not without merit. Alongside success testimonials, workflow automation horror stories exist, too.

If you are still in the process of considering the pros and cons of deploying one, here are three quick questions to ask before implementing a workflow engine:

  1. Does your business really need a workflow engine?

For companies with teams and various departments needing to collaborate and share resources on an ongoing basis, a workflow engine may be necessary to speed up work and eliminate resource redundancies.

  1. Can the workflow solution be easily integrated with an existing company application?

If you already have an existing system in place, like Outlook, CRM or SharePoint, for example, throwing it out of the window in favor of a new system that is yet to prove itself may not be a good idea. The best workflow engine should have the ability to collaboratively work with third-party software through API (application programming interface).

  1. Will an out-of-the-box workflow solution require a steep learning curve, making transition a royal pain?

When adopting a workflow engine for the first time, or implementing one in lieu of another, an application that’s complex and fairly difficult to learn will require a considerable amount of time, not a sound idea in the overall scheme of things, especially if your project deadline cannot be moved to a later date to make way for staff training. The time needed for all of your team members to learn the software’s ins and outs isn’t necessarily a wise investment, more so if you would have to incur penalties as a result of failing to meet your targets.


While workflow solutions exist for a reason and they won’t naturally gain traction if they fail to give justice to that reason, before implementing one in your own unique environment, remember that the first important step to success is tackling the necessity question head on. If you decide that subsequent implementation means the pros outweighing the cons, the next hurdle to clear is finding the best, if not perfect, workflow solution fit.

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