Workflow management systems support the dynamic definition, execution, monitoring, and modification of business processes.
All sorts of processes like opening a bank account, managing a supply chain, or hiring a new employee can be automated.
Process control is separated from core business logic (such as a financial portfolio investment strategy, or accounting rules) and from data.
This permits flexible adaptation of rapidly changing business processes without having to touch the other elements of the IT system.
Workflow management systems are well suited to integrate existing legacy applications into new business processes.
Leading workflow management systems are, for instance, Staffware, IBM’s FlowMark, FileNet, and extensions of groupware system such as
Lotus Notes Prozess Ware. Although the concept offers striking advantages, pure workflow management solutions have had only limited success in specialized application areas.
More frequently, package vendors such as SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Siebel, or Ariba have integrated workflow concepts and engines into their prepackaged offerings, using the
workflow component to permit custom-specific tailoring of their packages.
Workflow management systems are typically used to send documents managed by a document management system through the organization.
They are particularly well suited to support highly structured business processes. If the workflow is of an ad hoc nature, groupware and messaging systems are used.