What your Workflow Management System complicates, Digital Playbooks simplify

What your Workflow Management System complicates, Digital Playbooks simplify

Published January 15, 2024

workflow management playbooks

Workflow management systems (WfMS) are software tools that help organizations automate and optimize their business processes. These systems are used for tracking tasks, progress and ensuring compliance. However, with increasing process complexities and multiple parties involvement they get very complex. That’s where digital playbooks come in. Digital playbooks are flexible; they also map complex processes into simple steps and let multiple parties track the process. Digital playbooks simplify and streamline workflows, improve communication and collaboration, and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

What is a playbook?

A playbook is a series of steps or guides that help track processes from beginning till the end. It integrates both explicit and tacit knowledge, including structured, formalized internal processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs), as well as less tangible, experiential insights and best practices. A playbook’s purpose is to establish a uniform direction and standardized reference point, enabling every member of the organization to align their efforts towards shared objectives. A playbook can cover various aspects of an organization, such as business strategy, marketing, product development, company policies, and cultural ethos. A playbook can be updated and revised as the organization evolves and learns from its experiences.

A digital playbook is a playbook that is stored and accessed electronically, using cloud-based platforms, mobile devices, or web applications. A digital playbook can be automated and may support automations like script writing, alerts, notifications, emails sends and many more. A digital playbook can be interactive and can also be integrated with external tools to allow seamless flow of information, reports and updates.

What is a workflow management system?

A workflow management system (WfMS) is a software system that provides an infrastructure for the set-up, performance, and monitoring of a defined sequence of tasks arranged as a workflow application.

A workflow is usually a defined and repeatable process towards a particular outcomes. Workflow tools can be specificized for the jobs and can bring plethora of sub-flows and rules and triggers. These tools may also be automated and integrated with other systems.

How playbooks differ from workflow management systems

Playbooks and workflow management systems are both tools that can help organizations manage their processes and tasks. Nonetheless, both these tools are suitable for different purposes. Following are the two key differences between a workflow management system and playbooks:

  • Adaptability: Playbooks are more flexible and adaptable than workflow management systems. As playbooks simplify the process, they become agile to adapt to any process or workflow. Workflow management systems are comprehensive and cater to far more complex scenarios; thus, they are rigid and pre-defined making them hard to update or change based on business needs.
  • Guidance: Playbooks are more comprehensive and holistic than workflow management systems. Playbooks can capture not only the steps and tasks of a process, but also the rationale, goals, and outcomes behind them. Workflow management systems are highly rule based and often trigger automatically; thus, they do not provide enough guidance to users in explaining the need or rationale behind a particular task.
  • Communication: Playbooks are more collaborative and communicative than workflow management systems. Playbooks can facilitate communication and collaboration among different stakeholders or between individuals and information systems. Playbooks can also enable knowledge sharing and learning within and across teams. Workflow management systems by design are highly functional and are not designed for team collaboration or interactions, et al.

How playbooks simplify flows

Playbooks provide clear and consistent direction to users, they reduce complexity and allow easy tracking progress to users as well as management. This reduces ambiguity and adds efficiency in the system. Following are a few ways how playbooks simplify complex flows and operations.

  • Playbooks simplify flows by breaking those down into singular steps relevant for all users. This helps users get better visibility into future. Playbooks are simple and provide amble information to users to prepare them well to anticipate potential changes and adapt accordingly.
  • Playbooks can help users streamline and optimize the flow of a process, by eliminating unnecessary or redundant steps, automating or delegating tasks, and prioritizing and sequencing actions.
  • Since playbooks are flexible, they are can be designed in either way to adapt or to bring consistency in a processes within or across the teams. Playbooks are a great tool for organizations planning to implement processes and/or for teams wanting to streamline their processes.
  • Playbooks also allow validation of playbooks by building in checklist and rules within the playbooks. This brings enormous benefit to users as they are assured even in complex scenarios all required actions are completed and nothing slips through the cracks.

What are the benefits of using playbooks

Playbooks optimize customer experience and improve how service is delivered to customers. Sometimes it is difficult to visualize the benefits that a tool or technology can bring. It’s easy to get absorbed in usage approach etc. But it is essential to understand the benefits in order to assess ROI and also help users visualize how a particular tool or technology can help them improve their performance. Following are a few benefits of using a playbook:

  • Increased productivity and performance: Playbooks remove ambiguity, and provide clear instructions to the users. This helps users stay focused and perform better. Overall efficiency and productivity increases. Refer this link on How to Design Your Playbooks.
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration: Playbooks allow users collaborate more meaningfully as they see the process at the same level. Playbooks break down the process into simple steps allowing all users to understand it well without any confusions. Since playbooks allow communication, it empowers users to share feedback and help bring continuous improvement.
  • Improved agility and innovation: Playbooks can help users adapt and respond to changing needs and situations, by providing them with flexibility and customization. Since, playbooks are simple to create and work with, they allow testing out new ideas with much ease and stake. This not only allows teams get to better processes but also keeps users motivated and involved in the process. Refer this link for a few sample playbook templates.


Digital playbooks are highly useful and powerful as they bring the flexibility of playbooks and automation for efficiency. Playbooks help organizations simplify their operations, streamline processes, stay on track for outcomes, have strong communication and foster collaboration and transparency in teams. Digital playbooks simplify the entire process with much ease and allow adaptability.

As Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple had said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Believing in simple can be hard for organizations at times. It is then when they resort to complex tools and technologies promising wonders! What playbooks allow is quicker visibility into results. Simplified processes that are effective, agile and allow collaboration.

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