Process & Workflow

BPM vs. Workflow: What is the Difference?

Dec 29, 2021
Post Masthead

Many business owners confuse business process management or BPM with workflow management. Though they may seem similar, there are fundamental differences that affect their suitability and applications in various business environments and applications.

In this article, we’ll talk about the exact differences between BPM and Workflow. We will also share some examples of the common applications of each system.

What is a workflow management system (WFMS)?

WFMS is a tool that helps you set up and monitor a series of tasks, commonly in the form of a flow diagram. These plans and diagrams aren’t usually as detailed, but they still give enough data for someone to follow instructions and perform the job efficiently. There are many effective workflow management systems and tools available, and they’re all effective and affordable for both small and medium-sized businesses.

Workflow management is more focused on the individuals performing the tasks than the process itself. If it becomes more geared towards the process more than execution, this is when it evolves into BPM. But, more on this later…


What are workflow management software tools commonly used for?

WFMS is usually maximized to define the key steps in a particular task. There typically are numerous people involved, so the workflow then outlines the role of each individual in accomplishing the tasks.

Before deciding which system to go for, you first have to identify your organizational goals and what you want the system to achieve. To help you decide whether or not a workflow management system is suitable for you, we have outlined below some common applications for WFMS.

  • Sales: if advisors go through the same sales cycle with multiple clients at various stages of the process.
  • Customer Service: if inquiries are assigned to different customer support agents depending on the client’s specific issue.
  • Manufacturing: if steps in the production line could be automated to boost efficiency, or if manual labor can be eliminated.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

BPM is a system that captures and improves business processes to boost efficiency in the organization. This can be done by first illustrating the existing end-to-end processes of the organization and documenting the steps and actions in a process map. After mapping out the business processes, one can easily detect the inefficiencies and areas for improvement. This data then helps business owners and key personnel to make informed decisions and the necessary changes to either reduce costs or boost overall productivity and efficiency.

Many companies use a dedicated BPM system to model, analyze, and optimize their processes and transform their companies for the better.

What are business process management systems used for?

BPM systems and tools can be used across different industries to accomplish different business objectives. Some common applications include:

  • Manufacturing: to identify bottlenecks and reduce these obstacles and inefficiencies in a production line.
  • Construction: to detect possible health and safety risks and enforce policies and procedures among staff.
  • Healthcare: to enhance patient-centric processes to improve the experience for patients and stakeholders.
  • Finance: to thoroughly comply with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations.

BPM vs. Workflow: Similarities and Differences

Here’s a breakdown of the similarities and differences between BPM and Workflow management.

BPM vs. Workflow

The Similarities

  • Both BPM and workflow optimize and streamline work
  • They’re mainly used in all types of organizational and business procedures
  • They both enhance efficiency, minimize confusion, and save resources and time

The Differences

  • Workflow focuses on the execution of single tasks whereas BPM focuses on the business process as a whole.
  • BPM is geared towards report generation and analytics rather than individual goals.
  • Workflow is a type of BPM but not vice versa.

BPM vs WFMS: Which is better for your business?

Team Workflow

All in all, choosing between the two boils down to your business goals. For example, if your goal is to help your staff do better in their jobs, then applying WFMS can help, especially if workflows are cross-functional. When implemented correctly, WFMS can go a long way in improving overall business output and performance.

However, if you need to implement a company-wide initiative—something that involves a bigger, broader scope, and larger budget—then BPM might be a better option. BPM systems are scalable, so you can optimize the processes in one department or functional area initially, iterate on the improvements, and then roll out similar process improvements across the organization. It may require somewhat of a substantial investment in terms of time and resources to pull off a successful BPM system, but it will always drive ROI in the form of transformative changes that can make the entire business better and stronger.

Regardless of which system you choose to adopt, as long as you are aligned with your organizational goals, you are making a good decision.

Rindle is the Workflow Management Tool You Need

As mentioned above, there are a number of workflow management tools out there… so how do you know which one will be the best fit for your business? We recommend starting with a tool that is easy to setup, use, and build workflows and processes—without a steep learning curve or breaking the bank.

Rindle allows you to build the processes and workflows you need, rather than building processes around what the tool can handle. Give Rindle a try today and say hello to a world of better workflows.