CNET Editors' review
Anyone who works understands workflow as an intuitive concept, but analyzing, modeling, and designing workflow processes is another thing. Workflow Designer is a freeware workflow application that does much more than map out processes and procedures: it serves as a centralized access point for the data and graphics tools you need to create everything from drawings of simple processes to elaborate mind maps and process diagrams. The optional cloud-based Workflow Connect system gives users access to a wide range of modules to expand their capabilities on demand without committing to unneeded tools.
Workflow Designer opened with an optional tool tip, the first of which explained the advantages of subscribing to Workflow Connect. We continued on to the main interface, which opened with a start page offering many choices. We could jump right in and create or open a Workflow or access a variety of Help and Setup options, Hints and Tips, Web sites, and other resources. The program's layout resembles a lot of graphics editors and word processors we've seen, with a top toolbar and a left-side palette of graphics tools, shapes, connectors, and other program-specific objects. We started with a new Workflow, which involved selecting the Standard Template, though we could create as many templates as we needed and add them to the selection tool or browse to any folder of templates, including imported data. The basic workflow diagram resembles a racetrack in a nine-point field. An optional, expandable right-side panel featured tabs displaying Workflow Details, Purpose and Scope, Revision History, and more, with a series of handy icons on the bottom. The program's Quick Draw tool made switching between tools, modes, and settings easy, with Step Details displayed on the right. We could also quickly access Tasks, Files, and a Jump feature from the right-side panel.
Workflow Designer is a capable tool that requires some familiarity not only with its features but also its concepts to get the most out of it. While anyone who has used Photoshop, CAD, or plotting tools will be familiar with Workflow Designer's basic operation and graphics tools, it's helpful to be familiar with process maps before you try to create one. For those who can make use of this powerful freeware, it's obviously highly recommended.
From Workflow Connect:
Easy to use diagramming tools for workflow diagrams, process maps, procedures, mind maps and many more. Powerful, complete and simultaneous procedural text and document integration. Automatic reporting features that meet standards such as ISO9000. Publish, share and collaborate with the Workflow Connect cloud subscription service. Visually capture "the what" and "the how" of activities in the organization. Link all your interrelated process and procedure documents in the right sequence back to the workflow diagram. For managers today there is a need to visually capture the way work is conducted within the organization, combine this with various levels of reference documentation such as policies, standards or specifications and communicate this information both internally and externally. Going beyond diagramming software - such as SmartDraw and Visio - Workflow Designer from Workflow Connect, combines an easy to use international standard diagramming tool with documentation tools. A built in word processor and text importation and linking keeps the diagram and your procedural text always in synchronization.
You can easily create workflow diagrams, process maps, procedures, mind maps, swim lanes or other visuals with Workflow Designer's diagramming tools. Visual tools let us understand and communicate complex business information quickly and easily. All reference documentation such as policies, standards or specifications can be linked in at appropriate places within the diagram either directly inserted, imported from most standard document file formats or by creating links to existing documents. You can share both diagrams and documentation in a controlled and secure environment through the cloud with Workflow Connect. You can connect people to the workflow and share data and information via your Internet connection and web browser. Create reports in a number of standard document formats that includes: who does what, job sequence, work instruction, document and chart links, as well as approval and revision history. With these features combined you have one of the most powerful tools for the visual capture and communication of organizational information and processes to share across the room or across the world.
What's new in this version: Version 5.13:
- Added Step Overview showing the steps as a list
- Added icon indicators to the Step Overview to highlight which steps have jumps or attachments
- Added checkbox to Workflow Connect publishing progress dialog to automatically close on success
- Fixed swim lane ordering buttons changing border width instead of swim lane order
- Fixed compression error preventing Workflow Connect publishing
- Fixed crash when trying to open a jump with... See all new features
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All versions:4.5 stars
out of 2 votes
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"Workflow does a great job on simple work flow diagrams."
Version: Workflow Designer 5.1
The program is wonderful at doing flat flow charting.
The program is a little hard to get used to but is not to bad once learned. The printing leaves a little bit to be desired, break points would be nice.
For the price of the software it is a very good program for doing simple flow charting projects.
"Design, document, report"
Version: Workflow Designer 4.02
Workflow Designer combines workflow charts (or processes or flow charts as my colleagues call them) with documents so that I can add in or link to complete documentation for the chart that I have created.
The best feature, for me anyway, is the reports. At a touch of a button (well a menu and a few buttons anyway) I can automatically generate a report including the workflow chart and associated documentation.
Lacks few of the more advanced features for making your workflow more pretty, like you might see in something like SmartDraw, but has a lot more other features, in particular documentation, linked documents and reports.
Basically you can use the diagramming tools to create a chart of your business processes. These charts appear to be fully customizable but I have to admit I haven't gone into all the features because creating basic charts is so easy you don't need to play around with too many features to achieve your goals.
You can then add documentation to each step in your workflow chart. We had many policy and procedure documents stored in a very disorganised manner. Now they are all linked to workflows making it easy to find the right document at the right time.
The reporting features are really nice. Management (in their wisdom) decided to conduct a surprise organisation safety audit last week. I was able to create a report that outlined all of our documentation directly from Workflow Designer. In fact I was the only one in the meeting who could produce all my documents. Needless to say other departments are planning to also start using Workflow Designer. This is great because we can configure Workflow Designer easily for multiple users.
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