Work Flow Management System (WFMS)

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Workflow Management systems (WFM’s) are innovative schemes which have proven, useful in enhancing a firm competitive advantage. Benefits such as; minimal errors in work handoff, less lead times and better strategies in operation executions in organizations, have been realized. However, if WFMS’s coordination is planned ineffectively, it may undesirably reduce worker’s performance, lower motivation and gratification among other undesirable effects. This paper discusses the Workflow Management system in details. It also gives an example where the system can be used rather than the Workspace Management system and outlines the benefits of Workflow management systems in an organization.

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A Workflow Management System (WFMS) is a computer software that supports the; requirement, execution and mechanism of a business practices (Dustdar, 2005). WFMS’s have been substantial in supporting collaborative business functions (Dustdar, 2005). The functioning of WFM is typically embedded in present day systems i.e. CRM, Call-Centre’s software and the ERP. The technology behind the WFM is popular and widespread. Workflow management system free human actors in coordinating work assignments. Also, it improves the quality of service delivered. The Workflow Management system ensures that a process is implemented in tandem with the set objective. Priority steps are noted thus; it reduces work loss and applies authorization strategies automatically. In addition, the WFMS’s simplifies work performance and improves productivity. WFMS’s ensures that work responsibilities are only assigned to workers if and when they are needed to be implemented. Lastly, work under the WFMS’s is flexible. Discharging the business rheostat progression from mainstream applications and moving it nearer to the WFMS streamlines restructure of the business procedures.

Workflow Management Systems

As already defined earlier, A Workflow Management System (WFMS) is a computer software that supports the; requirement, execution and the mechanism of business practices. WFMS’s perform this task in two broad ways; Process definition and process enactment.

Process Definition

According to Dustdar (2005), process definition is characterized by either “coding” the work flow or defining it in a pattern that describes what it will respond when a task is invoked. However, this largely relies on WFMS i.e. defining is implemented by declaring “coding” which is understandable by programmers. Consequently, subsequent workflow model comprises of data configurations which are warehoused in XML or in other analogous data edifice. Workflow is better handled by entrenching a distinct WFMS tool in an application (Dustdar, 2005). Embedding the system helps in alleviating the need for the software or application to succeed its own business application. The application performs the tasks of delegating its business procedures to the work flow instrument, thus permitting the application to concentrate on building on business procedures instead of executing the procedures.

Process Enactment

When a process is defined, it is enacted as mentioned earlier. Enactment is somehow involved than running the work flow. Each distinct enactment is epitomized by a work component. Dustdar (2005) defines a work unit as “a demonstration of work waiting processing (by a participant of a workflow) in a framework of a task within a procedure (Dustdar, 2005). When a procedure is enacted, the WFMS establishes a work component to indicate that enactment of that precise procedure. In this sense, when a procedure is run several times, by users or repetitively by a single user, each distinct trend is symbolized by a work component.

Role in an Application

The WFMS is neither an application server nor a database management, but the processes often work in unison. For example, the diagram below illustrates how WFMS fits in a model system design.

WFMS in a system structure
Figure 1. WFMS in a system structure (Author, 2011)

In system architecture, the application server is tasked with managing the running applications and gives users right of access to the applications by using the APIs. The server, however, do not explain the application, although it keeps, implement and grant access to it. The Database Management system, (DBMS) grants transactions and persistence; however, lack the capability of binding together sequence of transactions resulting in the work flow. This is because; an application ought to produce a series of execution consistently to perform a procedure. DBMS lacks the capability of performing this task, thus; the application server assumes the role. The application session management has a weak diligence and transaction; its capacity does not appreciate it enough memory to remember the transactions completed and which ones are yet to be run.

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Workflow Features

Workflow management systems have many features, which makes it, reliable and valid in organizations. According to Doğaç (1998, p.6) One of the common features is the graphical representation. The MfMS possess this feature which aid in specifying and representing a workflow procedure as a graphical map. The concept is to promote non- programmers i.e. end-users, business analysts and re-engineering professionals. The Workflow process map is a comprehensive component of the work flow product.

Another feature of the Workflow management system is the structure. WFMS by nature is distributed systems. Doğaç (1998, p.6) notes that, they are characterized with a 3 tier client and server architecture. Besides, these systems function on various platforms. The design is made up of workflow engine, which serves, as a warehouse for Meta information in the emphasize database. Other mechanisms of workflow i.e. the system monitor, starter and controller act as clients of the engine. Peripheral applications that perform workflow activities are typically geographically positioned and on discrete platforms.

Lastly, user Model is also an important feature of WFMS. In this case, the user’s role and responsibilities are linked. The main concept is to distinct the aspect of logical role, which is, a prerequisite for the ability to perform a task and the idea of physical resources available to accomplish the mentioned task. The process developers define roles for the workforce activities at developing time. Equally, explicit resources that dominate the desired capabilities are dispensed to the activity at process implementation phase

Appropriateness of Workflow Management systems to Workspace Management Systems

According to Reijers and Poelemans (2007), work flow is important in addressing variations situation in the organizations. The issues can range from the status and bottlenecks of projects, what is happening in the company among other important issues in the company. For example, in a production plant of over, 5,000 workers, it is complex to determine the exact people working on the project. Besides, it is often difficult to determine for example, if an organization 500 expensive machines are being underutilized. Consequently, at a macro level, an organization normally embraces a graphical scan on the conclusion influence of various processes needed to complete a designated customer demand. The Workflow management systems thus help organizations to solve this problem in a variety of ways. Reijers and Poelemans (2007) notes that the ability of WFMS to work in real-time enhances monitoring of all processes taking place in an organization. This enables the decision makers such as the managers to grasp the whole process in its present state instinctively.

In embracing real time concept, the actual tasks to be completed are inputted into the WFMS, then, the process is set i.e. identifying employee with an appropriate process. An employee with sufficient skills or in a group will be allocated the order automatically (Reijers and Poelemans, 2007). The WFMS facilitate users to have his or her work list. By defining duties, it ensures every employee work accordingly thus it is easier for an organization to evaluate the performance status of every employee.

On the other hand, Workspace management system comprises of a piece of a file system which is occupied with replicas of joint space items. Hence, they do not represent an integrated platform harmonizing the entire activities in the organization. Workspace only allows a single user to perform a given activity in isolation. The Characteristics of workspace system is that, they are created to achieve a well outlined activity for example; it can contribute effectively in executing a variation on a model (Mistra-K, 2010, p.183). Moreover, Workspace Management system controls many change requirements executed in comparable and implements simultaneous engineering strategies by amalgamating consistency of discipline and alertness this is in contrast with the WFMS which are consistent with the task at hand.

According to Mistra-K (2010, p.184), Workspace does not include stand- alone software as like many other management systems. It invokes the services and information delivered by other systems such as; issue tracking, change control and increasing management to permit strong support. Although, Workspace management systems deliver a project plan and implementation on time minimizes legal risks, it is limited in effectively handling organization-wide activities such as managing organization projects and other engagements in the organizations (Reijers and Poelemans, 2007).

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Benefits of Workflow Management Systems

Workflow creates many tangible benefits to organizations. One significant benefit is increasing flexibility. Most organizations at refining the quality of their in-house control, management system practice optimization. Thus, this contributes to flexibility in terms of process design which fixes different kinds of work flows. Besides, WFMS incorporate a variety of work flows operating concurrently. This then helps in linking different projects thus, contributing to simplified monitoring procedures.

Also, WFMS encourages standardization and automation in the organization (Reijers and Poelemans, 2007). This occurs in the sense that, project activities are dispensed to loyal employees without prior advice from the decision maker. Hence, this saves processing time and manpower. Besides, real time automated reporting system minimizes response time in relation to customer service therefore, improving quality in service delivery.

Lastly, WFMS is simple to access and contain enhanced security features. WFMS has a friendly user interface and simple to use processes list. This helps in guiding users to accomplish each stage thus simplifying the daily operations in an organization. Decision makers in an organization can only screen or refine the needed information. They do this by applying the concept of user role or department or can assume autonomous mechanism log-in privileges.


Workflow Management system accounts for efficiency in modern business environments. The system models business procedures of which stand-alone applications and database management systems cannot achieve. The WFMS distinct business processes form the application or procedure that baits into the business procedures and accomplishes implementation of those procedures.

WFMS application in an organization can help achieve goals since it helps to supervise tasks by tracking activities happening in real time. Activities such as project management and other projects initiative in an organization are better handled with the WFMS. Workplace management system can complement the WFMS; however, it has limited capabilities because it is made up of stand- alone applications.


Doğaç, A., 1998. Workflow Management Systems and Interoperability Springer, Michigan.

Dustdar, S., 2005. Reconciling Knowledge Management and Workflow Management Systems: The Activity Bases Knowledge Management Approach, Journal of Universal Computer Science, 11 (4) pp. 589-604.

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Mistra-K, I., 2010. Collaborative Software Engineering. Springer, Michigan.

Reijers,A.,H., and Poelemans, S., (2007). Re-Configuring Workflow Management Systems to Facilitate a “Smooth Flow of Work”, International Journal of Cooperative Information System- IJCIS, 16 (2), pp. 155-175.

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