Project Management Tool vs Workflow Automation Platform: What's the Difference?

Jan 21, 2020
Post Masthead

You deal with the same problems every week…

You and your team constantly struggle with completing tasks and milestones on time, tasks are falling through the cracks, and there seems to be constant confusion about who is working on what.

Your team needs serious organization. So, you start researching various project management software available, all while waiting for a miracle to happen.

However, before you waste too much time researching and trying different project management tools, you might benefit from another type of solution: workflow automation.

If you are reading this and thinking, what is the difference? Keep reading, because this article is for you…

In this article, we will review the pros and cons of using project management software, the pros and cons of workflow automation, and some guidance on how to determine which option is the best for you, your team, and your projects, and how it can help solve your biggest challenges.

What is the Difference Between Project Management Software and Workflow Automation?

So, what is the difference between the two?

A project management tool outlines tasks, who will work on them, and when each task is due. Typically these tasks are in the context of a project — a group of tasks with a start date and a due date.

A workflow automation platform allows you to put repetitive tasks, projects, and processes on “autopilot”, send notifications and reminders to certain team members, or start another process when a project is complete.

Yes, some project management tools that are available today are designed with automation features and capabilities. However, most require a third-party tool or service, such as Zapier or IBM Watson to build automations, and they don’t allow you to manage your workflows at scale.

All in all, the key difference between the two is execution. Yes, you can use a project management tool to outline and assign a task, but someone actually has to manage the project or the board at the end of the day. By using a workflow automation platform, the workflow or processis managed for you and can automatically kick off other processes in the organization.

Pros and Cons: Project Management Software and Workflow Automation Platforms

Of course, like anything, there are pros and cons to project management software and workflow automation platforms. Even though project management software and tools are a dime a dozen today, this doesn’t mean that they are the best solution 100 percent of the time.

Project Management Software

Here are the pros and cons of using a project management tool:


  • They are flexible, accessible, and available on-the-go.
  • They provide a comprehensive, “big-picture” view of projects and tasks in a single dashboard view for all teams.
  • They can provide detailed reporting, progress monitoring, and performance analytics.
  • They can help to streamline internal and external project communication and correspondence.
  • They ensure a level of accountability and visibility across the project team and with stakeholders.
  • They can help to balance workload and provide a “source of truth” for project statuses.
  • They can integrate with other tools in your tech stack.
  • They can be customized to fit your needs.


  • They can be expensive.
  • They can add complexity to projects and processes.
  • They can introduce risks.
  • They aren’t always scalable.
  • Many tools have a poorly-designed UI.
  • They may come with a learning curve.

Workflow Automation

Despite having many similarities, workflow automation is different from project management software because they largely deal with workflows and processes at scale.

Here are the pros and cons of workflow automation:


  • It can help simplify and streamline processes and operations, increasing productivity and efficiency.
  • It helps businesses and teams scale their operations by automating delegation, deliverables, and outcomes.
  • It can automate repetitive, tedious tasks and workflows—saving time, money, and resources.
  • It can be a cost-efficient solution.
  • It can be customized to fit your needs.
  • It can reduce communication risks.


  • It can over simplify processes and workflow.
  • It often requires a deep understanding of current broken processes in order to make a big impact.
  • It can reduce flexibility and agility.
  • Team members can become too reliant on it.

Project Management Software or Workflow Automation: Which is Best For Your Team?

Project Management Tool

Of course, every business, team, and project is unique in its own way. Although there are pros and cons to using a project management tool, you may find that it is the best fit for your team.

If the majority of your projects are unique, meaning each one has different tasks and milestones, then a project management tool that allows you to outline tasks in a traditional, linear fashion might be best for you and your team.

For example, government projects, construction projects, and engineering projects are likely best managed with advanced project management software. This isn’t to say that these types of projects can’t benefit from automation, however, the majority of these projects involve different steps that are performed once.

Workflow Automation

On the other hand, if the majority of your projects are more systematic, involving repetitive tasks, steps or processes, then there is an opportunity to leverage workflow automation. This will allow you to build a workflow that automatically assigns, moves, and completes tasks based on specific filters or criterion that are met.

General rule of thumb: if you need to bring your processes and workflows to scale or are currently scaling and need a platform than can handle multiple workflows at once that can talk to each other, then workflow automation will more likely suit your needs.

For example, this type of solution is great for creative teams that often perform the same tasks over and over again. For example, a designer is assigned tasks to create custom images; a content writer is assigned a task to write a blog article or social post; or an IT team member is assigned a customer support ticket.

Workflow automation is also a great solution for team members that religiously forget to notify their project manager or team leader when a task is in progress or completed. This is a tried and true way to keep the project leader informed on project and task status without constantly intervening with team members asking for status updates.

What Makes a Project Management Solution a Good One?

If you’ve been reading this far, then you might be torn between whether you will benefit most from project management software or workflow automation. In fact, you might be intrigued by certain aspects and benefits of both solutions.

All in all, when considering a project management solution, your solution should have the following features and capabilities:

  • Resource management
  • Collaboration and communication
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Flexibility and scalability
  • Customization
  • Integration
  • Simplicity
  • Help and support

Be Consistent in Your Approach

Above all, regardless of which solution you choose, consistency is key. A project management tool or an automated workflow will only be successful if all team members truly embrace it and use it consistently.

Of course, adopting project management software or an automated workflow platform will require a change in process and some team training.

However, if leaders take the time to communicate the value of the solution, how it will help make team members’ jobs easier, how it will help make the organization stronger, and even how it will provide a better experience for customers will encourage consistent team adoption and usage, then team members will have an easier time adjusting to it.

One of the most important things to remember is to make the solution work for you, your team, and your projects rather than change the way you work to fit the particular solution.

Project Management Software + Workflow Automation

If you are looking for a project management tool and automated workflow capabilities, Rindle has both!

Rindle is designed with both project management and workflow automation features, allowing teams greater flexibility and agility, the ability to scale, and everything they need all in one comprehensive tool. With Rindle, you can set up projects, assign tasks and team members, set up workflows, and automate it all.

Give Rindle a try today for free.