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This document provides an introduction to Workflow Management Systems. The first section concentrates on a functional review of these systems: definitions, typical features, benefits, tradeoffs, process selection, and success factors for implementation. The second section provides a technical overview: a method for categorizing workflow products, the state of the market, and emerging standards.

With over 70 vendors1 offering significant workflow products, a variety of approaches to workflow management can be expected. The ideas presented in this paper, therefore, do not apply across the board to all products but rather represent a framework for understanding workflow management concepts. Heavy reliance was placed on James Kobielus’ book Workflow Strategies2 2 and on the Workflow Management Coalition’s Workflow Reference Model 3 to provide sense and structure to this broad topic.

1 IW, August 18th, 1997. Vol. 6 Iss. 11 p. 23
2James G. Kobielus, Workflow Strategies (IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., 1997)
33 David Hollingsworth, The Workflow Management Coalition Reference Model (The Workflow Management Coalition, 1994) Available at