Children have curious minds. You never quite know what they are wondering.  On a recent road trip, my youngest son spotted a small plane taking off and asked: “Dad, where is that airplane going?” I answered his question with the same lack of enthusiasm as I did the 10 questions before, “I don’t know, I suppose wherever he needs to.”

My son, with the tenacity of a trial lawyer, followed up with questions about how traveling in cars and planes are different. As I explained to him, “Cars need to travel within the rules of the road. There is a set pattern.  If we want to drive across the country we can, but the rules are set and we cannot create a new road, we need to use what is provided. In an airplane, the pilot has more freedom to use their experience. They have a complete instrument panel of information. They check the weather, the wind and defines their own course based on what they feel will be the optimal route to complete their flight.”

He then asked, “Why don’t we just fly everywhere?”  I answered, “That just wouldn’t be efficient. It would not make sense to run our weekly errands on a plane.”

A few days later, I arrived at my desk at Naviant began to prepare for a discussion with a client surrounding the choice between a Workflow and Case Management (WorkView) solution. Hyland, the creator of OnBase, offers solutions for both needs, but the questions remain. When is it ideal to utilize Workflow? When is it proper to implement a Case Management solution? I drew instant parallels to the airplane discussion with my son a few days before.

Workflow Automation

There are always processes in business that are linear. Like a car, these processes follow a particular route and the rules guide them to the proper destination. Workflow automation is ideal for core business functions when next steps are predictable and handled in a specific order. If a process can be diagrammed, Workflow is likely the automation solution. A business process management (BPM) Workflow automation handles the routine with speed and efficiency and deals with the exceptions outside of the process. Want to learn more about workflow automation? View our guide to workflow automation.

Case Management Solution

In the past, if a business process fell outside an expected route, it could not be effectively handled with Workflow. Enter Case Management, which excels when there are a variety of potential next steps and no specific order to which they need be completed. Case Management systems are now bringing efficiency to the process of the non-linear decisions that are currently being managed by knowledge workers. Case Management is built to pull relevant information from a variety of systems, including an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, and present it to a knowledge worker in one singular control panel. Similar to a pilot, the knowledge worker can then act based on experience and training. Want to learn more about case management? View our guide to case management.

Choosing the Right Process to Manage & Automate Your Business – Workflow vs Case Management

A BPM Workflow is perfect for routine linear processes; whereas Case Management assists in automating a process while being more flexible and allowing the user to decide on the next step for the business process being managed.

How does an IT team make the determination of which to use? Especially if the process is in the gray-area falling between the two?  This is where partnering with an experienced OnBase partner is valuable. At Naviant, we employ a process first approach to help each one of our clients identify the most efficient manner in which to deploy an OnBase solution. Our Business Process Consultants will take time to learn the current and ideal future state of your business process that is to be automated. Our Solution Architects work closely with our Consultants to perfect the best process solution for the end-user. Whether Workflow or Case Management is chosen to meet the needs of your business, the combination of Hyland’s OnBase with Naviant’s process consulting is highly effective and will deliver results. Just ask WPS.


Keith McHugh
May 04, 2016
Case Management
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