Workflow management system

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A workflow management system (WfMS) is a software system for the set-up, performance and monitoring of a defined sequence of tasks, arranged as a workflow.[1]

International Standards[edit]

There are several international standards-setting bodies in the field of workflow management:

The underlying theoretical basis of workflow management is the mathematical concept of a Petri net.[5]

Each of the workflow models has tasks (nodes) and dependencies between the nodes. Tasks are activated when the dependency conditions are fulfilled.

Workflows for People[edit]

Workflow management systems allow the user to define different workflows for different types of jobs or processes.[6] For example, in a manufacturing setting, a design document might be automatically routed from designer to a technical director to the production engineer. At each stage in the workflow, one individual or group is responsible for a specific task. Once the task is complete, the workflow software ensures that the individuals responsible for the next task are notified and receive the data they need to execute their stage of the process.

Workflows can also have more complex dependencies; for example if a document is to be translated into several languages, a translation manager could select the languages and each selection would then be activated as a work order form for a different translator. Only when all the translators have completed their respective tasks would the next task in the process be activated.

Workflow management systems also automate redundant tasks and ensure that uncompleted tasks are followed up.[7]

Automated workflows[edit]

Workflow management systems may control automated processes in addition to replacing paper work order transfers.[8] For example, if the above design documents are now available as AutoCAD but the workflow requires them as Catia, then an automated process would implement the conversion prior to notifying the individual responsible for the next task. This is the concept of Enterprise application integration. [9]

Workflow management systems also appear in distributed IT environments such as grid computing or cloud computing. The aim of such systems is to manage the execution of various processes that may belong to the same application while in many cases they are used as a means to guarantee the offered Quality of service (QoS).[10]


Workflow management systems can be categorised into the following categories:

  • Routing System
  • Distribution System
  • Coordination System
  • Agent System
  • Assistant System

List of workflow management systems[edit]


  1. ^ Introduction to workflow management systems "What is a workflow management system? Taverna
  2. ^ Workflow management coalition "Workflow Management Coalition home page"
  3. ^ World wide web consortium "W3C home page"
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hartmut Ehrig (25 November 2003). Petri Net Technology for Communication-Based Systems: Advances in Petri Nets. Springer. pp. 323–. ISBN 978-3-540-20538-8. 
  6. ^ Processes "Cooperation in Processes" CEITON technologies
  7. ^
  8. ^ EAI workflow"System-centred workflow management" CEITON technologies
  9. ^ Explanation of enterprise application integration in the context of workflow "Back end EAI"
  10. ^ An innovative workflow mapping mechanism for Grids in the frame of Quality of Service,