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Difference Between Work Flow Management Vs Project Management

workflow management system

Difference Between Work Flow Management Vs Project Management

While the terms “Workflow Management” and  “Project Management” are used interchangeably as they are perceived to have a lot in common, each of them have their own unique purposes.  Hence knowing those unique purposes can help you choose the system that is most-efficient, gives you the right tools, and thereby helping your business achieve the objectives.

In this blog, we give you a detail of what is workflow management, project management, and the difference between them.


What is workflow management? 

A workflow represents the process of series of steps that needed to be followed to complete a given task. Workflow Management is planning, organising and executing the steps needed to complete the task. These steps could be the standard operating procedures or best practices or standard practices the company follows to achieve its overall goals.


Though it sounds like project management, the key here is the sequence in which the work flow. The progress in workflow management is linear, the next step can begin only after the previous step is completed. So work flow management best serves repetitive processes that are recurring and routine.


Because the process is repetitive, workflow management helps to automate every day’s routine tasks, which helps to eliminate roadblocks and makes the team more efficient.


Once a clearly defined workflow is rolled out, it eliminates ambiguity of the steps and roles, so the task flow won’t getting disrupted. Also, bottlenecks caused due to unexpected staff leave can be escalated and the tasks can be reassigned.


So workflow addresses the day-to-day operations of the business irrespective of it sizes, complexity of the process, the industry it operates or the products/services it delivers. Now it’s time to take a look at project management.

What is project management? 

A Project is a temporary time-bound undertaking to achieve a specific purpose or goal. Project involves a series of tasks which are unique to the project’s objectives. It varies depending on the scope of the project.  However, each task is quite well defined, well monitored, and every step is assessed. While the steps involved in the projects seems to be like in workflow, projects have highly flexible structures, have many simultaneous assignments and flexible to accommodate changes along the flow. Moreover, projects have strict timelines, budgets as well as limited resources. Each project has a limited lifespan. The project is concluded when its deliverables are achieved.


When the outcome of the project is reached, the project team is often disbanded. So projects are not cyclical unlike workflow which is cyclical and repetitive.


Project Management helps to define the tasks associated to complete the deliverables. It involves the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. As every project is unique, the project managers should have the ability and the skill to organise different tasks and communicate an effective plan, having foresights to predict and solve problems at the same time, operating within the limitations of time and budget.

What’s the difference between workflow management and project management? 

workflow vs project management

More than just the definition of workflow and project management, there are some remarkable differences between the same as listed below.

1.Repetitive Vs One-time

  • Workflow is a repetitive functional process and is measured by a task’s completion. Project is temporary, generally a one-time thing.
  • Using workflow management, you would know that the task will be completed eventually, even if it’s an urgent task.
  • Using project management, the task would have a strict deadline to meet. If the deadline line is missed, it could affect the impact of the outcome.
  • Lets look at social media campaign as an example.
  • A social media workflow could start and finish with a posting on a social media platform like say Facebook.
  • A social media content project will look at researching on what is trending, how our post can be linked to the trend, creating various contents to address the trend, all within fixed dead line.

2.Constant Tasks Vs User-defined Tasks

The tasks listed in Workflow management is mostly constant focusing on the overall goals of the organisation. As the workflow management focuses on completing recurring tasks, each completion triggers a new cycle. The work flow always stays the same and can be repeated any number of times.


The task listed in Project management varies based on the project requirement. The set of tasks are unique to that outcome needed as a one-time assignment. The project is completed once those out comes are achieved.


3.Simple Vs Complex

In workflow management the task is often simple and straightforward. The entire organisation has a clear visibility of the tasks and its impact.


Project management is very often quite complex and highly layered. If we look at an example of hiring new employees on a regular basis, the workflow could include posting on a job portal, accepting and reviewing applications, collecting CVs, scheduling interviews etc. But when the same exercise is carried out to recruit a C-level executive, the whole tasks become a project as additional steps need to be added to the process like skill examination, certifications, reference checking, different level of interviews etc.


4.Planning Vs Connecting

Project management looks at the big picture of the outcome and focuses on planning, overseeing, and directing tasks. Workflow management ensures the big picture flows stage to stage smoothly, focusing on connecting those tasks.


An example could be a customer service request workflow. The workflow starts with the employee getting the details on the request raises by the customer, follow up with the solutions and then message the client to inform them on the solution.


However, when looked as a project, the information presented to the customer is assessed for it effectiveness and monitored as to how this workflow supports the overall customer experience goals set by the enterprise.


5.Sequential Vs Non-Consecutive

The progress in workflow management is sequential with triggers between each step in the flow. However, project management does not always progress in an orderly fashion and doesn’t necessarily rely of trigger events to start a task.


In summary workflow management focuses on the company, its goals and the efficiency of the workflow in achieving the goals.

Project Management focuses on teams, its execution, transparency, flexibility in managing changes.

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