What is the Difference Between Workflow and Process?

Laura Parker
May 2024
Understanding the subtle distinctions between workflow and process is vital, especially as workflow software becomes a central tool for efficiency. This article aims to clarify these concepts, providing you with a solid foundation to optimize your operations using the right strategies. By exploring the nuances between workflow vs process, we’ll equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions that can streamline activities, boost efficiency, and enhance overall productivity.

Whether you’re a seasoned leader in an SME or a newcomer to operational management, grasping these differences is essential. This discussion will serve not only as a guide to distinguishing between workflows and processes but also as a stepping stone to implementing more effective management strategies within your organization through workflow software.

What is the Difference between Workflow and Process?

What is the difference between workflow and process

The terms ‘workflow’ and ‘process’ often intertwine in business jargon, yet they refer to distinct concepts within any organizational framework. 

  • Workflow: Involves the sequence of tasks that are completed to achieve a specific outcome. It is the actual step-by-step execution of tasks, which is often visually represented in workflow software to help track progress and ensure compliance. 
  • Process: Refers to a broader set of activities that include workflows but also encompass the rules, responsibilities, and tools used to complete the tasks.

For instance, in workflow process examples, if the goal is customer service improvement, the workflow might detail each step from receiving a customer inquiry to resolving it. The process includes not just these steps, but also the standards for how quickly each step should be completed, who is responsible, and the metrics used to measure success.

By differentiating these terms, businesses can more accurately apply workflow software to manage specific sequences of tasks while overseeing processes to maintain broader organizational standards and improvements.

What is the difference between workflow management and process management

Understanding the distinctions among workflow, process, and procedure is essential for effectively managing operations within any organization. Here, we explore these terms to ensure clarity and better application in business settings:

  • Workflow Management: Focuses on the execution of specific sequences of tasks within a designated workflow. Workflow management involves monitoring and optimizing the flow of tasks, usually facilitated by workflow software, to ensure efficient operations and task completion.
  • Process Management: Encompasses a broader scope that includes not only the workflows but also the overarching rules, roles, and responsibilities required to manage the entire lifecycle of business activities. Process management seeks to improve efficiency and effectiveness across all processes.

There is also confusion around the difference between process and procedure.

  • Procedure: Refers to the specific steps or instructions that must be followed to complete a single task within a process or workflow. Procedures are more detailed and prescriptive, dictating the exact method for performing tasks.

By understanding the nuances of workflow vs process vs procedure, organizations can better leverage workflow software to enhance specific tasks (workflow management), while also maintaining high standards across broader business activities (process management).

What is the difference between workflow management and process automation

To optimize business operations, it’s crucial to distinguish between workflow management and automation, and process automation. Here’s a detailed look at these concepts:

  • Workflow Management: This involves overseeing the entire lifecycle of a workflow within an organization, from its design to execution and review. Workflow management ensures that workflows are optimized for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, integrating tools like workflow software to monitor performance and make adjustments in real-time.

Workflow Automation vs Process Automation:

  • Workflow Automation: Focuses specifically on automating the repetitive tasks within those managed workflows. For instance, beSlick’s integration with Zapier enables automatic task execution across multiple applications, streamlining complex workflows without manual input. IT directors find this integration particularly valuable for its simplicity and robust automation capabilities.
  • Process Automation: Goes beyond automating single workflows to encompass entire business processes. This involves automating interconnected workflows and decision-making processes to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the entire organization.

The collaboration of beSlick with Zapier not only simplifies workflow automation but also ensures seamless operation within broader process automation strategies. This synergy is highly valued by IT directors and management teams for its straightforward implementation and powerful, comprehensive automation capabilities, promoting ease of use and smooth adoption throughout the organization.

What is process vs workflow management

The terms ‘process management’ and ‘workflow management’ are often used interchangeably, yet they encompass distinctly different scopes within organizational operations. Understanding these differences is pivotal for effectively deploying the right management strategies and tools:

  • Process Management: Refers to the oversight of an entire process, which may consist of several interconnected workflows. It involves the design, execution, and improvement of these processes to enhance overall business efficiency and adaptability. Process management aims to optimize the entire system, not just individual tasks.
  • Workflow Management: Focuses on the execution and optimization of a single workflow within the broader process. It deals specifically with the sequence of tasks and how they are carried out to achieve specific outcomes. Workflow management is often visualized through tools like process workflow diagrams, which help clarify the sequence and dependencies of tasks within a workflow.

Including a process workflow diagram can significantly aid in distinguishing between these concepts. Such diagrams visually map out each step in a process, highlighting how various workflows interlink and contribute to the overarching business goals. This visual tool is especially useful for training new employees, identifying bottlenecks, and refining operational strategies.

The effective use of process workflow diagrams within workflow management software, like beSlick, allows teams to not only see their immediate tasks but also understand how these fit into larger business processes. This dual perspective is critical for organizations aiming to streamline operations and enhance productivity across various departments.

What is the Difference between Workflow and Process?

What is the difference between a process and a workflow

Distinguishing between a process and a workflow is crucial for any organization looking to optimize its operations efficiently. Here’s how these concepts differ:

  • Process: A process encompasses a broader set of actions aimed at achieving a specific goal or result. It includes multiple workflows and often involves various departments or teams. A process is about the overall strategy and the architecture of operations, focusing on how different pieces fit together to produce a desired outcome.
  • Workflow: A workflow is a specific sequence of tasks that are carried out to complete a single component of a process. It is more about the execution and the specific steps taken to achieve part of the larger goal. Workflows are typically more focused and contained within specific parameters or departments.

To illustrate these differences, consider project workflow examples:

In a marketing project, the process might involve planning, execution, and evaluation phases, encompassing various workflows such as content creation, distribution, and analytics.

A specific workflow within this process could be the content creation workflow, which details the steps from ideation to publishing.

beSlick helps organizations visualize and manage these workflows with its intuitive platform, making it easy for teams to see their part in the wider process and how their tasks interconnect. This visualization is particularly beneficial for project managers and team leaders who need to keep projects on track and ensure that each workflow complements the other, driving towards successful project completion.

Streamline Your Success: Leveraging Workflow and Process Management

As we’ve explored throughout this article, understanding the distinctions between workflow and process is not just a matter of semantics—it’s a fundamental aspect of optimizing business operations. Recognizing the differences and applications of workflow and process management can dramatically enhance your organization’s efficiency and productivity.

beSlick offers a dynamic platform that simplifies these complexities, enabling both seasoned and novice users alike to effectively manage and execute workflows and processes. By adopting tools like beSlick, businesses can reduce errors, increase visibility, cut costs, improve customer service, scale operations smoothly, and train employees faster. All these benefits contribute to a more agile business environment where change is not only anticipated but seamlessly integrated.

Are you ready to take control of your business processes and workflows with precision and ease? Visit beSlick’s workflow software to discover how our solutions can transform your operations. Don’t let your processes dictate your success—master them with beSlick and watch your business thrive.

Need a better way to track team tasks & workflow?
Need a better way to track team tasks & workflow?

, Author of The Dirty Word and CEO at beSlick

Alister Esam is a successful entrepreneur and investor, having bootstrapped his fintech software business eShare to international status operating in over 40 countries and servicing 20,000 board directors, before successfully exiting to a multibillion-dollar organisation in 2018. He now invests in a variety of startups and on a global mission to make work, work.