My kids are still in preschool, so we drive them to school each morning. Our oldest has now reached the age where she recognizes the school buses driving by and wonders aloud why she is stuck with me in the car versus riding the bus with all her friends.

To try and remain a “Cool Mom”, I add in, “Plus, if you took the bus every day, we wouldn’t be able to make stops for ice cream on the way home!” Then immediately regret planting that seed. I quickly try to explain that the car gives us more flexibility. We can decide when we leave, the music we listen to, the temperature in the car, and our route.

We discuss that sometimes it makes sense to take the bus when you live in the city, or when the route matches up with the stops that you need to make. Then we hit the end of the 4-year-old attention span, and she moves on to talk about something new like her sparkly shoes.

So why am I sharing this lovable anecdote with you? Analogies are my favorite, and I use a bus and a car to explain the difference between Workflow Automation and Case Management almost daily. First, workflow is ideal for linear processes that you can define- just like a bus route. On the other hand, Case Management allows you to manage more complex processes. This includes processes that may require you to deviate from a defined path from time to time.

Workflow vs. Case Management - What's the Difference and Which One is Best for You?

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is wonderful for providing quick efficiency gains by automating the routing of a piece of work. It is ideal for core business functions when the next steps are predictable and handled in a specific order. If you can diagram a process in the same order every time, Workflow is likely the solution for you.

This is where the bus comes in. The Workflow bus has a pre-defined route. It includes various stops along the way, allowing documents to get on or off the bus. Rules and logic dictate what stops your document takes. Once a task has been completed and your document is ready to continue on in its journey, it can jump back on the bus and make its way to the next destination.

Workflow automation map

Accounts Payable is a great example of a process that you can automate using Workflow automation. You can bring incoming invoices into your Workflow process electronically or scan them in as needed. Once the documents are uploaded, you can use an OCR solution to extract information off the document or manually key in the information needed. Then, the Workflow will manage the tasks associated with posting the payment to your ERP solution.

The invoice document will be routed electronically through the organization to gather appropriate approvals. In some cases, your invoice can jump on and off the bus multiple times, for multiple levels of approval or exception handling before it reaches its final destination- posting to your ERP.

Case Management Solutions

When comparing workflow vs case management, you can’t overlook the the flexibility of Case Management solutions. You don’t always have the time to sit at a bus stop waiting for the next bus to come. However, a car lets you buzz around town accomplishing your errands in whatever order makes the most sense to you.

Case Management tools focus on providing you with all the information you need to drive quick, informed decisions. The dynamic nature of a Case Management framework allows you to stay on top of your tasks, checklists, and processes. But it also comes with flexibility to navigate the casework differently each time.

Case Management tools allow you to dive into the process and the order in which tasks are completed. A great example of a Case Management solution would be Human Resources Onboarding.

There are a number of mandatory tasks and processes when bringing a new employee into an organization. A Case Management solution allows you to manage the tasks and checklists associated with setting up an employee’s workspace, IT access, and accounts to other systems like Benefits and Payroll. Using a case management solution allows for centralization of information collected and managed in different systems. This way, you can manage the process more efficiently.

When managing the solution electronically, you can send employment documents to your new employee prior to their first day for review and signature. Rather than spending their first day signing paperwork, you can focus on helping make their first impressions of the company memorable!

Once you create an employee folder, you can continue to manage their records electronically. You can add things like annual reviews and acknowledgement of policies and procedures to their record.

Choosing the Right Solution: Workflow vs Case Management

You can use these tools together to create powerful solutions that provide you the best of both worlds. Think sending the kids to school on the bus while having the freedom to stop for a cup of coffee on the way to work.

At Naviant, we employ a process first approach to help each of our clients identify the most efficient manner to automate your process. Our Business Process Consultants will take time to learn the current and ideal future state of your business process that needs automation. Our Solution Architects work closely with our Consultants to perfect the best process solution for the end-user. Whether you choose Workflow or Case Management to meet the needs of your business, Naviant’s process consulting is highly effective and will deliver results. Just ask WPS.

To learn more about workflow vs case management and what they can do for your organization, contact your Naviant account manager.

About Ema

Ema is an Account Executive at Naviant focused on helping our clients learn about Enterprise Content Management and the value that it brings to an organization. She enjoys interacting with clients and building partnerships to help find solutions to their business process challenges. When she isn’t talking about Digital Content Strategy, she is chasing after her toddlers, spending time outside, or trying to perfect her yoga headstand.

Ema Roloff
Ema Roloff
Oct 30, 2020
Case Management , Process Improvement
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