Revolutionising efficiency: the best workflow automation tools of 2024
Repetition is the enemy of productivity. It not only inhibits the creative problem-solving skills of employees but also affects the overall team performance.
But there is more to it: Poor communication, repetitive errors, project delays, lack of compliance and growing costs—all these are the symptoms of a workplace where tasks are carried out and managed manually.
Now, imagine a workspace where routine tasks run themselves, approvals happen in an instant, tasks are automatically assigned and the information flow is seamless between departments. How can this happen?
Enter workflow automation tools.
Workflow automation tools have become an essential feature of workspaces across every industry, from marketing campaigns to human resources and from financial transactions to customer support. However, undertaking automation can be a daunting task, especially when choosing which workflow automation software to go with.
And that’s what this article is about. We want to give you an overview of some of the best workflow automation tools out there. But first, a few basics.
Understanding workflow automation
In plain terms, workflow automation solutions automate repetitive and manual tasks, like approving a leave, sending a reminder email, adding a lead to a drip campaign, responding to customers and so on. The objective here is to free you and your team from time-consuming tasks and let you focus more on strategic maneuvers that truly drive your business forward.
Here are some use cases these tools can help you with:
- Data routing—move information between different applications and platforms, from marketing platforms to CRM or sales to finance, all without doing anything manually.
- Task automation—schedule and execute repetitive tasks like sending emails, adding a customer to the campaign once they download a resource, generating reports, updating databases, etc.
- Approval workflows—route documents and requests for approval through predefined channels. For instance, an employee asking for leave and the manager approving—or rejecting—the same without manually writing applications. Or the finance department approving an expense request.
- Trigger-based actions—set up automated actions based on specific events, like sending notifications when a new lead comes in, creating tickets, updating customer records when a purchase is made and so on.
But why are these tools so crucial in today’s business landscape? The answer lies in their impact on modern business operations.
- Automating workflows improves efficiency and accuracy in the workplace. A California-based insurance agency reduced the quote-generation time from 14 days to 14 minutes by automating their workflow.
- These tools free employees to focus more on important and high-value tasks. 85% IT leaders credit automation for helping their team members save 10-15% of the time they would otherwise spend on repetitive and manual tasks.
- Automation helps avoid errors when tasks are done manually. Workflow automation software reduces errors by 37% during the capture process.
- It also increases visibility into processes and enables performance tracking. 91% of businesses that have adopted workflow automation report that they have gained greater visibility into their business processes.
- 54% of managers say the top workflow challenge they face is poor communication. Automating workflows can address this challenge by eliminating bottlenecks and fostering communication among employees and departments.
- Workflow automation boosts the productivity of both members and teams. To put it in perspective, 40% of productivity is lost to task-switching, something that can be automated.
But as I said earlier, all this can happen when you choose the right platform, which may come with workflows that you need—or which may allow you to design your own workflows as and when you need them. In the section below, I have listed some top workflow automation tools. Choose the one that suits your unique needs.
8 of the best workflow automation tools
First on the list, we have Zapier. Boasting integrations with over 6,000+ apps, I would call Zapier the undisputed champion of connectivity. Think of an app, and Zapier has managed it, weaving together your email, CRM, project management tools, communication channels, customer support platforms, etc.
Its user-friendly interface and pre-built “Zaps” allow you to automate almost any type of business process, basic and advanced. It has a ‘free forever’ plan, with basic but core features available. Paid plans include Starter, Professional and Team priced at $19.99, $49 and $69 per month, respectively. There is also a Company plan, but you will get in touch with the sales team for pricing.
Pros of Zapier
- Unparalleled integration—connect almost any app, no matter how obscure
- Easy-to-use—drag-and-drop interface and pre-built Zaps make automation easy, even for non-technical departments
- Affordable—a free plan with basic features, and paid plans offer more robust capabilities.
Cons of Zapier
- A steeper learning curve, especially setting up “Zaps.”
- Poor customer support. “I don’t find the help supports very helpful; most are short, vague steps on how to complete tasks but not really how to troubleshoot,” writes one user.
- Though it offers integrations with many apps, not all integrations are as smooth as expected.
Ideal for: Businesses seeking basic automation between diverse apps, freelancers connecting their workflows and anyone needing a user-friendly and affordable entry point.
Use case examples: Zapier is particularly useful for marketing and service departments. Use cases include (but are not limited to) sending automated email notifications, updating databases based on form submissions, syncing files between cloud storage services.
ClickUp is another workflow automation tool that brings together project management, task automation and communication under one platform. Its visual interface makes it easy to track progress, manage deadlines, and collaborate with your team. ClickUp shines in its customisability, where teams can tailor the platform specific to their needs and workflows using process templates. While it has utility for any team, it’s particularly useful for software development, marketing, design and operations teams seeking a unified platform to manage everything, from small tasks to complex projects.
Like Zapier, ClickUp also has a free forever plan. But unlike Zapier, its paid plans are more affordable, with Unlimited priced at $7 per user per month and Business at $12 per user per month. For the Enterprise plan, you will need to contact its sales team to get pricing information.
Pros of ClickUp
- Feature-rich—combines project management, automation and communication tools.
- Intuitive interface—easy to learn and use, even for non-technical users.
- Collaboration tools—real-time chat, comments and document sharing foster seamless team communication.
Cons of ClickUp
- It has a learning curve. Although intuitive, working around ClickUp’s full potential requires some effort.
- Free plan offers access to limited features, and paid plans are designed such that some teams might find them expensive as they scale up.
- “Not great for Design Ops, UX Design or Creative teams,” a user complains.
Ideal for: Businesses seeking project management solutions, companies prioritizing collaboration and team communication or teams needing powerful automations with a willingness to invest time in learning.
Use case example: Manage a content marketing workflow, assigning tasks to writers, tracking deadlines and collaborating on revisions.
3. Kissflow Workflow
Kissflow Workflow is a low-code (also offers no-code) business process management tool that goes beyond automation. With Kissflow, you can build forms, design workflows, build dashboards, delegate tasks, establish fixed or formula-based SLAs and create rules that trigger actions—all with no or minimal coding. What makes Kissflow stand out is its perfect mix of powerful analytics and simpler interface. Besides, you can also track data, automate data capture and generate insightful reports to make informed decisions.
There is no free plan available. In the paid tier, it has Basic and Enterprise plans, the former starting at $1,500 per month. The Enterprise offers access to full features, but its price is not revealed on the website.
Pros of Kissflow
- Powerful reporting and analytics—detailed reports, customisable dashboards and data visualisation tools offer extensive insights.
- Business process management—you can automate business processes, track compliance and optimise workflows for efficiency.
- Versatility—you can customise the functionalities per the requirements of each department separately. Also, it is good for companies with documentation flow between departments and teams.
Cons of Kissflow
- Paid knowledge base.
- Steeper learning curve. “There is a learning curve to customizing the tool to fit with the business process workflow,” a user wrote in their review.
- While offering connections to several apps, the integration breadth compared to Zapier might be limiting.
Ideal for: Data-driven businesses needing in-depth process analysis, companies seeking to optimise and improve workflows or organisations managing document-heavy processes and requiring detailed reports.
Use case examples: Tracking and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs), identifying bottlenecks in workflows and generating detailed reports for informed decision-making.
monday is a cloud-based work operating system that helps teams manage their processes, projects, and everyday work. With monday, you can create your own custom workflow apps in minutes for processes, projects and routine work, without any coding required. For instance, you can track tasks and projects, manage deadlines and schedules, collaborate with team members, automate repetitive tasks and gain insights from data visualisations—all within a single colour-coded dashboard.
Talking about the pricing plans, monday offers a host of tiers:
- Free Forever is for 2 seats and is suitable for individuals looking to keep track of their work.
- The Basic plan is priced at $8 per seat per month and offers team management features.
- The Standard plan, $10 per seat per month, allows collaboration across teams.
- The Pro plan is suitable for complex workflows and is priced at $16 per seat per month. All paid plans must have at least 3 seats.
- For large projects, it has the Enterprise plan, the price of which is customised based on your needs.
Pros of monday
- Fun and user-friendly—visual boards make workflow management enjoyable and intuitive.
- Excellent for collaboration—real-time updates and shared boards boost team communication.
- Customisability—can be tailored for a variety of workflows across industries and departments.
Cons of monday
- Although it automates basic tasks, complex workflows require additional tools or integrations. “It is terrible for complicated processes. Automation is severely lacking,” a user mentions.
- While the UI is simple, it is limited in features. “We eventually stopped using this software because the UI was very limited in its features. Our team didn’t really catch on, and we abandoned the software after a year,” another user writes.
- Integrations with other apps could be complex and may have problems with functionality. Also, “most of the integrations require subscription payments to a third party.”
Ideal for: Small and medium businesses seeking a visual and engaging management tool, creative teams working on collaborative projects, companies prioritising simple automation and ease of use.
Use cases: Managing marketing campaigns, tracking software development projects, planning and executing events.
Pipefy is a cloud-based workflow management platform with which you can build bespoke pipelines for business processes across different departments. It has a special focus on human resources, procurement and sales but can also be used for marketing and customer service workflows. It’s as easy as using Trello but can handle more complex and complicated processes.
With Pipefy, you can track your team’s progress, gain insights from powerful dashboards, collaborate with your team in real-time, automate repetitive tasks easily and design custom workflows. In fact, Pipefy AI has made it really easy to create custom processes instantly—simply ask and it’s done!
Pros of Pipefy
- Build unique and custom pipelines for your specific recurring workflows with Pipefy AI—in seconds.
- Access dashboards that offer real-time insights and analytics into every stage of your processes (but be mindful of the limited reporting capabilities).
- Offers task assignments, comments and file sharing within each pipe that keep your team in sync. Additionally, it has a special discounted plan for small businesses—other than the free plan.
Cons of Pipefy
- Compared to some tools on this list, Pipefy’s integration capabilities could feel a bit limited. “The API documentation is really messy, and even as a developer, I get lost,” a user says. Also, not all apps play well with its pipes.
- Even though Pipefy AI has addressed many problems users had with creating workflows, it still has a learning curve, especially for automation setup.
- Large teams with complex workflows might find the pricing structure ($20 per user/month) a bit steep.
Ideal for: Companies looking to automate repetitive tasks, standardise workflows and boost team productivity across departments, from HR to marketing to customer service.
Use case examples: HR workflow (hiring, onboarding, request management, etc.), managing leads and sales pipelines, streamlining procurement workflows, tracking customer service interactions.
Nintex is a process management and automation software solution meant for enterprise businesses with established processes. Some tasks you can do with Nintex include complete workflow automation, document creation, approval processes, data capture, and even robotic process automation (RPA)—all under one roof. Using its visual workflow builder, you can drag and drop elements to create complex processes that adapt to your specific needs. Its built-in forms and document management tools make it a simple solution for streamlining document-heavy workflows.
But it is expensive for small-to-medium businesses, as the following shows.
Pros of Nintex
- Powerful interface—user-friendly and visual, Nintex makes automation accessible to everyone, no coding required.
- Versatility—automate virtually any task, from simple email notifications to complex document routing and approvals. Across departments as diverse as loan processing, remote education, help desk support, human resources and finance.
- Extendable ecosystem—connect with third-party cloud-based and on-premises business applications, using Connectors, to build integrated workflow solutions.
Cons of Nintex
- It has a notable learning curve, especially for new users when dealing with complex workflows.
- It’s too expensive. When asked what they dislike in Nintex, “it’s premium price. As our Customers are exposed to more and varied solutions from many different providers, it is sometimes a little more difficult to justify a premium priced suite of products,” responded a user.
Ideal for: Large enterprises managing document-heavy processes and complex workflows, companies seeking a comprehensive platform for automation and document management, businesses with dedicated IT teams to support advanced workflow customisation.
Use case examples: Pretty diverse. Human resources (employee onboarding, leave requests, posting jobs with no manual effort), sales (auto-generating custom-branded sales proposals), replacing paper-based forms with digital workflows, automating approval processes, streamlining document routing and tracking.
Make, formerly Integromat, is a no-code automation workflow tool that lets you visually create, build and automate—they call the workflows ‘scenarios.’ Users can construct intricate scenarios by connecting modules, enabling dynamic and customisable automation tailored to their specific needs. The platform offers a drag-and-drop interface to connect apps, services and platforms in a few clicks.
You can also design complex workflows using Make’s no-code toolkit, which includes advanced features like iterations, aggregations, conditional logic, filtering, error handling, etc.
Make offers five plans: Free Forever, Core (at $9/month), Pro ($16/month), Teams ($29/month) and Enterprise (customised pricing).
Pros of Make
- User-friendly interface—the intuitive and drag-and-drop system simplifies workflow automation without coding. Also, it is very easy to set up scenarios, even for users with minimal experience.
- Extensive integration capabilities—Make supports a wide range of apps and services. “The whole variety of integration schemes, connectors, settings, and other product customisation appeared to be much over our expectations.”
- Developer-friendly—its open API and scripting capabilities empower developers to create custom integrations. And should you have a problem, the support team always has a developer guy on the team to help you move forward with your plans.
Cons of Make
- Integration challenges—users note that integrations with other apps could be complex, sometimes encountering functionality problems. “The connections between Facebook and Sheets simply don’t work. What is possible in under 5 minutes with Zapier will cost you an entire workday with Integromat / Make.com.” Also, be mindful of the additional subscription payments required for most third-party integrations.
- Complex workflow limitations—while Make does automate basic tasks effectively, users report limitations for complex workflows.
Ideal for: Businesses with complex and multi-step processes, large organisations with advanced data manipulation and conditional logic, or companies with developers comfortable utilizing advanced features. But it is equally useful for SMBs that simply want to automate their routine workflows.
Use case examples: Automating lead generation processes, supply chain automation, invoice automation, automating workflow for better project management, updating customer records in your CRM based on new orders placed in your e-commerce platform, etc.
Last, but definitely not least: Trengo. This is all-round customer engagement platform can be a game changer when it comes to streamlining workflows for your team.
Team collaboration is essential to handling conversations with customers also can function as a workflow automation tool. The platform offers useful features that could make it an attractive option for businesses looking to streamline their communication and workflow processes.
Trengo streamlines communication by consolidating multiple channels into a single platform, enhancing efficiency and ensuring no message is overlooked. Its intuitive automation features significantly reduce manual tasks, enabling teams to focus on higher-priority work. Moreover, Trengo's analytics provide insightful data, empowering businesses to continuously refine and optimise their workflows.
Trengo offers three plans: Essentials (at €99/month), Boost (€149/month), and Pro (€249/month) all based on a minimum of 5 users.
Pros of Trengo
- Unified inbox for all channels: Trengo provides a unified platform where teams can manage all their communication channels (emails, social media messages, WhatsApp, etc.) in one place. This consolidation can significantly improve response times and ensure no messages are overlooked.
- Collaboration-friendly: It's designed for team members to collaborate efficiently, ensuring that customer queries are handled promptly and by the most appropriate person.
- Automation features: Trengo allows the creation of workflow automations to handle repetitive tasks. This can include automatically tagging incoming messages, assigning them to the right team or team member based on pre-set rules, or sending automated responses to common queries.
- Integrations: Trengo supports integration with various platforms, which can be a significant advantage for businesses using a diverse set of tools and services.
- Scalability: Trengo's features are designed to scale with your business, making it suitable for small to large organisations.
- User-friendly interface: Similar to Make, Trengo offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it easy for teams to adopt and integrate into their daily workflows without a steep learning curve.
- Support and development: Trengo is known for its responsive customer support and continuous development, ensuring that the platform evolves to meet the needs of its users.
Cons of Trengo
- All-round platform: Focused on getting customer engagement right, Trengo is not just a workflow automation tool. So if you need just that, Trengo might be too big and offer too many features you don't need.
Ideal for: Trengo is ideal for businesses that prioritise communication efficiency and team collaboration. It's particularly beneficial for customer support and service teams, Marketing and Sales, operation team. Basically all teams that handle conversations, or need to communicate internally.
Use case examples: An e-commerce business uses Trengo to manage customer queries coming from email, social media, live chat, and WhatsApp. When a new message arrives, Trengo's automation rules automatically categorise the message based on its content (e.g., returns, shipping, product inquiry) and assign it to the appropriate team member. Predefined templates help the team respond to frequently asked questions quickly. All interactions are logged, ensuring any team member can assist the customer with full context, providing a seamless and efficient customer support experience.
Key features to look for in workflow automation software
Listed above are some of the workflow automation solutions, but this list is not exhaustive. Not all businesses are alike, and so are their automation software requirements. If you are still looking for your perfect automation tool, here are some tips on what features to look for in the solution.
- Easy-to-use interface
User interface and experience are the first things to consider. Let’s face it: complex software can be a productivity killer. Choose a tool that is complex, and you have lost the very purpose of automation! Instead, the tool should be easy to play around with, has no code, drag-and-drop interface and intuitive menus. Teams are made of diverse individuals—even the tech-shy team members should be able to build and customise workflows with ease.
Don’t ignore artificial intelligence. You can use AI to build workflows, analyse your existing workflows, identify bottlenecks and suggest improvements.
- Powerful automation engine
In this case, this would be considered the heart of the tool! What I mean by automation is not just automating simple tasks like email notifications. Much depends upon the requirements of your space but generally, automated tasks like data entry, file routing, approval requests and even complex decision-making—all should be possible with the tool.
Additionally, it would be better if the solution offers customisation options to tailor workflows to your specific needs and industry, build custom fields or create customised dashboards.
- Third-party integrations
Businesses of today run on a diverse ecosystem of apps, from CRM to sales and marketing platforms. There is Slack for communication, Zoom for meetings, HubSpot for CRM, Mailchimp for drip campaigns, and so on. How do you bring all of them to one place?
That’s where integrations come into play—the invisible bridges that keep your workflow connected across platforms. The automation tool you choose should not lack integrations with other apps, particularly with those apps that are part of your day-to-day workflow.
- Collaboration capabilities
Workflow automation isn’t a solo act; it’s always a teamwork. When considering the tool, check if it has collaboration features that your business needs across teams and departments. It could be anything from communication to real-time task updates, comment threads, shared access to data and information, a centralised system for tracking and monitoring tasks and file sharing.
- Data security
Data, whether it is of customers or internal teams, is precious—and sensitive. Automation tools may contain access controls, purchase orders, expense reports, or other personal information of employees and customers. Cloud-based or On-Premise, get a tool with robust security features like encryption, access controls and authentication protocols. For enhanced security and data protection, consider incorporating VPN solutions or reliable password managers into your workflow automation infrastructure. These tools can help safeguard sensitive information, mitigate cybersecurity risks, and ensure compliance with data protection regulations. Carefully vet the vendor’s documented data security policy, framework, compliance regime and capabilities to ensure your information is always protected.
- Scalability and flexibility
While choosing a tool, do not overlook scalability. Businesses are dynamic entities, and your workflow automation should be, too. With time, processes may change, users may multiply and workflows may become more complex. That is why it is essential to have a flexible platform that can adapt to your changing needs and grow with your team.
- Reporting and analytics
Any workflow tool would be incomplete without having comprehensive reporting and analytics capabilities, as they provide businesses with a holistic view of their operations. Choose a tool that lets you generate comprehensive reports and dashboards and can give you insights into your workflow performance, team productivity and other key metrics. You should also be able to track progress, spot trends, identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.
Finally, the pricing. Workflow automation tools—or any tool, for that matter—shouldn’t break the bank. There are tens of excellent tools out there with nice features and clean and intuitive interfaces. Without compromising on your core needs, you can choose a tool with flexible pricing plans that fit your budget and scale as you grow.
Create more time, automate your workflow
Workflow automation will save your team time, as it gives businesses a competitive edge. When choosing a tool for your business processes, remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best tool is the one that goes along with your unique business needs, budget, nature of business and team dynamics. Take your time, test the solution with trials and demos, and prioritise how it can meet your needs over a hundred features it may have.
Why not have a look at Trengo? It’s a customer operations platform that offers multichannel support, robust collaboration capabilities, third-party and native integrations, and most importantly, AI automation. Trengo doesn’t just list fleeting features; it has features that customer-facing teams actually—within budget.
Join a demo and check it out — for free!