The 3 Different Types of Workflows


Workflow is defined as the breakdown and execution of tasks in a business system, from start to finish, either automated or not. It is often used to map out the progress of a project or service from where it begins to its end, in a way that is easy to follow and understand.


What are the types of workflows?

A workflow is defined as the series of tasks and activities that make up a process. Workflows are often used to map out the progress of a project from its starting point to its outcome. Workflows are sometimes diagrammed in order to help us visualize and manage these tasks and activities.

That all sounds pretty straightforward but did you ever realize there’s more than one type of workflow? There are actually three main categories that workflows can fall under, so let’s take a look at the different types of workflows.

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Workflow categories

Workflows can be divided into three primary types, based on their complexity. These are sequential, state machine, and rules-driven.


First off on our tour through the different types of workflow comes the sequential workflow: this workflow is usually chart-based from one step to the next, always moving forward.

Each step depends on the completion of the activities on the previous step. You can think of this workflow as a connect-the-dots system: you have to follow the numbers correctly, one after the other, to complete the big picture.

Managing the sales processes of products and services is an example of a sequential workflow because the steps remain the same, with no activities going back and forth.

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State machine

Next is state machine workflow, which progresses from state to state. This type of workflow is a little more complicated, and activities in these workflows often go back and forth between steps if necessary.

This type of workflow can be compared to puzzle-solving, because you’re constantly putting important pieces in place to complete a project. State machine workflows are frequently used when there are creative elements in the process, or products and services that require extra review or input from clients and management.


Last but not least on our tour through the types of workflow, there’s the rules-driven workflow, which is executed based on a sequential workflow with rules that dictate its progress.This can be compared to following a blueprint to make a complete structure. Rules-driven workflows are very useful when working on a variety of projects with clear goals but varying levels of specifications.

Now that you know all about these different types of workflow, you’re well equipped to determine which one is right for your business and go with the flow that’s right for you!

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