What’s the Difference Between ERPs and Workflow Management Systems?

Selecting the right software will help your school district run as efficiently as possible. Read on to find out which productivity software is best suited for your needs.

Meeting among financial and operations teams

Technical terms and systems can be confusing. As an educator, you want to mold a child. Not to be bogged down comparing different types of productivity systems. But it’s an important task.

Selecting the right software will help your school district run as efficiently as possible. Read on to find out which productivity software is right for your school district.

When it comes to productivity software, there are two standout types to consider for your school district:

  1. Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (often referred to as “ERPs”), and
  2. Workflow Management Systems (or “WfMSs”).

Both ERPs and WfMSs aim to increase efficiency and cut costs. The difference is how each type of system does it.

Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERPs)

Like most organizations, different departments in your school district probably use different systems. From Human Resources to parent communication, the information stored is often siloed. The systems don’t talk to each other.

Best case scenario, staff spend extra time finding and entering information. Worse case? Important information isn’t shared when it needs to be. An ERP software solution, like LINQ ERP, would prevent these situations.

The biggest benefit of an ERP is that it can store and retrieve data from a centralized place. This means your entire district has the information they need when they need it. You don’t have to go into a separate system to look something up or to re-enter the information.

ERPs are designed to support different business functions and streamline processes. Because of this, ERPs are highly customizable and different “modules” are often available as add-ons to meet your district’s specific needs without providing features you don’t.

The downside to this is that these customizations can be pricey and costs can quickly add up. ERPs also don’t provide a lot of workflow management support for processes that require human coordination. For small to mid-sized school districts with a tight budget, the benefits may not justify the costs.

Workflow Management Systems (WfMSs)

Workflow Management Systems (WfMSs) like LINQ Forms & Workflows increase efficiency in a different way than ERPs. Rather than focusing on the data different business functions rely on like an ERP does, a WfMS supports the organization and execution of a workflow. The system puts your district’s processes front and center.

Without WfMSs, most school district processes rely heavily on paper. The problem with paperwork is that it can get lost, and it’s expensive. Unfortunately, most school districts have numerous forms and paperwork that parents and staff alike must complete.

The obvious solution is automation, but for many it seems out of reach. That’s where a WfMS comes in. By mapping out the different tasks in your processes electronically, you can begin to better organize the flow of work and automate much of it.

An automated workflow ensures your processes are standardized throughout your school district and that there is accountability. Most WfMSs have built-in tracking and reporting capabilities. This can save a significant amount of time and resources.

Let’s say a student gets injured. Normally, a staff member would complete and sign the form then deliver it the nurse. Next, it goes to the principal for review and is filed according to your own district’s procedure.

If a WfMS was used, this could all be done electronically. If you needed to check the status of the injury form, you could look it up rather than following up with each individual staff member. If they needed a reminder, this could be done electronically as well.

A drawback to using a WfMS, however, is that these systems face primarily on workflow management. You won’t get the enterprise-level data integration that an ERP would give you.

Which productivity system is right for your school district?

Both ERPs and WfMSs offer school districts like yours an opportunity to increase efficiency and cut costs. The difference is how this is done. Choosing the right one for your school district depends or your specific needs and goals.

Ask yourself this one question:

Are your needs data driven or process driven? 

If you are looking to automate and improve workflow, that’s what WfMSs like LINQ Forms & Workflows are designed to do. If your goal is to increase knowledge sharing and improve the flow of data, an ERP may be the way to go.



Don’t just read about it, be about it! ERP software and LINQ Forms & Workflows can support your efforts to become more efficient.