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5 Best Workflow Orchestration Tools and Their Benefits

Workflow orchestration tools have the power to make or break a business’s overall efficiency.

And I’m not just talking about how fast things get made, I mean everything from how well employees communicate and collaborate to security compliance for customers. Businesses cannot thrive without a workflow orchestration tool that works for them.

So let’s take a look at them. In this post, we are going to dive into what workflow orchestration tools are, how they differ from data orchestration tools, their benefits, and five of the best ones on the market.

By the end, you’ll not only be an expert, but you’ll already know which tool you want to try out!

What are workflow orchestration tools?

Workflow orchestration tools are powerful software solutions designed to automate and streamline complex business processes. They enable organizations to efficiently manage, coordinate, and optimize workflows across multiple systems and departments. 

By automating and orchestrating various tasks, workflow orchestration tools help businesses reduce manual effort, improve operational efficiency, and enhance overall productivity.

At their core, workflow orchestration tools provide a centralized platform where businesses can define, design, and execute their workflows. These tools typically offer visual interfaces or drag-and-drop functionality, allowing users to create workflows using pre-made templates or by customizing workflows from scratch. 

Workflow orchestration tools vs. data orchestration tools

Workflow orchestration tools and data orchestration tools are two distinct but closely related concepts in the realm of automation and process management

Workflow orchestration tools primarily focus on automating and managing the flow of tasks and activities within a business process. They provide a platform for making and monitoring workflows, ensuring that tasks are performed in a coordinated and sequential manner. 

Workflow orchestration tools enable organizations to define the steps, rules, and conditions of a workflow, assign responsibilities, and track the progress of tasks. These tools streamline and optimize processes, improve efficiency, and help teams collaborate effectively.

On the other hand, data orchestration tools focus on managing and controlling the movement, transformation, and integration of data across various systems, applications, and databases. 

These tools are designed to ensure that data flows smoothly and consistently throughout an organization’s ecosystem. Data orchestration tools handle: 

  • Data ingestion 
  • Transformation 
  • Validation
  • Synchronization 

That enables organizations to aggregate and harmonize data from disparate sources. They facilitate data integration, data migration, and data governance, making sure that accurate and relevant data is available when and where it’s needed.

While workflow orchestration tools primarily deal with the coordination of tasks and activities, data orchestration tools focus on managing the movement and transformation of data. However, there is a significant overlap between the two, as data is often an integral part of workflows. 

Workflow orchestration tools may incorporate data orchestration capabilities to retrieve and manipulate data as part of the workflow. Similarly, data orchestration tools may provide workflow-like functionality to automate data-related processes, such as data pipelines or data transformations.

Benefits of workflow orchestration tools

Here are a ton of advantages to using workflow orchestration tools, but here are some of the biggest:

Automation and efficiency 

Workflow orchestration tools automate manual tasks, eliminating the need for repetitive and time-consuming manual interventions. By defining and automating workflows, organizations can streamline processes, reduce errors, and increase efficiency. 

Automated workflows ensure that tasks are executed consistently, on time, and according to predefined rules and conditions.

Process standardization

They enable organizations to define and enforce standardized processes across teams and departments. This consistency helps maintain quality, ensures compliance with regulations and policies, and reduces the risk of errors or deviations. 

By providing a centralized platform for process management, workflow orchestration tools promote uniformity and standardization, resulting in improved outcomes.

Improved communication 

These tools facilitate effective collaboration among team members and stakeholders involved in a process. They provide visibility into task assignments, and progress, enabling better coordination and communication. 

Workflow tools often include features like notifications, alerts, and escalations, ensuring that team members are informed about task updates, deadlines, and any issues that require attention.

Scalability and adaptability 

Workflow tools are designed to handle complex processes and can scale as the organization grows. These tools accommodate changing requirements, allowing organizations to modify and adapt workflows as needed. 

Whether it’s adding new steps, incorporating new systems, or adjusting task dependencies, workflow orchestration tools provide flexibility and scalability to support evolving business needs.

Compliance 

Workflow orchestration tools assist organizations in maintaining compliance with regulations, policies, and industry standards. They provide audit trails, logs, and documentation of activities, ensuring transparency and accountability. 

Compliance-related tasks, such as approvals and authorizations, can be embedded within workflows, ensuring adherence to compliance protocols.

The best workflow orchestration tools

Here are five of the best workflow orchestration tools on the market:

Process Street

Process Street is a robust workflow orchestration tool that helps organizations streamline their processes, automate tasks, and improve operational efficiency. 

With its user-friendly interface and powerful features, Process Street empowers teams to design, execute, and monitor workflows with ease by using these features:

Task automation and assignments: Process Street automates task assignments and sends notifications to the responsible parties. Users can assign tasks to individuals or entire teams, ensuring clear accountability. The tool’s automation capabilities eliminate the need for manual assignment and tracking, saving time and reducing errors.

Conditional logic and dynamic workflows: Process Street offers conditional logic, which allows for dynamic and flexible workflows. Users can define rules and conditions based on specific criteria or inputs, triggering different paths within the workflow. It ensures that processes adapt to different scenarios, improving efficiency and reducing manual intervention.

Integration: It integrates with a wide range of third-party applications, including Salesforce and Zapier, which enables seamless data exchange and process automation. Integration allows for the automatic transfer of data, reducing manual data entry and ensuring consistency across systems.

Compliance and security: It offers features to support compliance and security requirements. It allows organizations to create workflows that adhere to regulatory guidelines and internal policies. Process Street also ensures data security through encryption, access controls, and user authentication.

Airflow

Airflow is an open-source workflow orchestration tool that enables organizations to schedule, monitor, and manage complex workflows with ease. Here’s an overview of how Airflow works as a workflow orchestration tool:

Directed acyclic graphs (DAGs): Airflow operates on the concept of DAGs, which represent workflows as a series of tasks. Users define tasks using Python code or a declarative configuration file. This approach allows for the creation of complex workflows with intricate dependencies and conditional logic.

Task scheduling: Airflow’s core functionality revolves around scheduling and executing tasks based on defined dependencies and schedules. Users can specify when each task should run, whether it’s a specific time, interval, or a combination of conditions. 

Hooks: Hooks allow seamless integration with external systems, databases, cloud services, and messaging frameworks. Airflow’s extensible architecture allows users to develop custom operators and hooks tailored to their specific needs.

Scalability and parallelism: Airflow is designed to handle large-scale and distributed workflows. It supports parallel execution of tasks across multiple worker nodes, allowing for high scalability and efficient resource utilization. Its architecture allows for horizontal scaling by adding more worker nodes to accommodate growing workloads.

Argo

Argo is a workflow orchestration tool that specializes in container-native workflows. Here’s an overview of how its most prominent features:

Workflow definition: Argo uses a declarative YAML syntax to define workflows. Users can define individual tasks, their dependencies, and the order in which they should execute. Workflows can be as simple as a linear sequence of tasks or as complex as a directed acyclic graph with parallelism and conditionals.

Kubernetes integration: Argo is tightly integrated with Kubernetes, leveraging its container orchestration capabilities. Workflows are executed as Kubernetes Jobs, which provides scalability, fault tolerance, and resource management. It utilizes Kubernetes’ native APIs and features, such as pod scheduling, secrets management, and resource allocation.

Workflow execution: The tool manages the execution of workflows within a Kubernetes cluster. It ensures that the dependencies between tasks are satisfied and launches the appropriate Kubernetes Jobs to execute each task. Argo monitors the progress of workflow executions and handles the coordination of tasks based on their status.

Containerized tasks: Argo enables users to define tasks as containers. Each task runs within its own isolated container, providing a consistent and reproducible environment. Users can leverage existing container images or build custom containers tailored to their specific requirements. 

Luigi

Luigi is an open-source tool developed by Spotify. Here’s a look at its top features as a workflow orchestration tool:

Task dependency management: Luigi organizes workflows as a collection of tasks. Users define tasks as Python classes, each representing a specific unit of work. Tasks can have dependencies on other tasks, creating a directed acyclic graph that represents the workflow structure. 

Workflow scheduling: Luigi provides a built-in scheduler that allows users to schedule and execute tasks based on defined needs and time intervals. Users can specify when tasks should run, such as daily, hourly, or with custom schedules. 

Extensibility: Luigi is highly extensible and allows users to create custom tasks and workflows tailored to their specific needs. Users can define their own task classes, implement custom needs, and add functionality through plugins

Integration with external systems: Luigi integrates seamlessly with various external systems and technologies. It provides connectors and libraries to interact with databases, file systems, cloud platforms, and more. Users can leverage these integrations to read and write data, execute external scripts, and interact with third-party services as part of their workflows.

Prefect

Prefect is a workflow orchestration tool that provides a simple and flexible platform for building data workflows. This is how it works:

Flow composition: Prefect enables users to compose workflows, called Flows, by defining the dependencies and execution order of tasks. Flows represent the overall structure of the workflow and how tasks are interconnected. Users can parallel execution, conditional branching, and looping within the Flow.

Data dependency management: Prefect automatically tracks and manages data dependencies between tasks. When a task relies on the output of another task, Prefect ensures that the upstream task is executed before its dependent task. 

Workflow execution: The tool provides a unified interface for executing workflows locally, on remote servers, or in cloud environments. It supports various execution engines, such as local execution, Docker-based execution, or cloud-native execution using services like AWS Batch or Google Cloud Dataflow. Users can choose the most suitable execution environment based on their requirements.

Collaboration: Prefect provides features for collaboration, allowing teams to work together effectively. Users can version control their workflows, track changes, and manage different workflow versions. It supports collaboration features like sharing and managing access control to workflows and collaborating on workflow development.

Get started with a workflow orchestration tool

If you want to give a workflow orchestration tool a try, book a free demo with Process Street!

We will go over all the features with you and answer any questions you might have. If you like what you see, you can try it out for free for 30 days. You’ll be surprised by the difference in your daily workflows!

Take control of your workflows today