Automation used to be super expensive—and difficult—to implement. But thanks to the development of low-code and no-code software, automation has become a lot more accessible.
Now, even small businesses are using workflow automation software to save time, reduce inefficiencies, and cut costs. Workflow automation also frees up your team from more mundane tasks, helping them focus on work that really matters.
But choosing the right workflow automation software for your needs is difficult—there are so many options, and different tools have their own strengths and drawbacks. So to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best workflow automation software for various needs and use cases.
We hope you find one (or maybe two!) to help your team save loads of time.
What is workflow automation software?
Workflow automation software relies on rule-based logic to automate different tasks and processes. While workflow automation software, like Zapier, works around creating specific rule-based automations, some software, like project automation tools, include automation as part of their offering.
Workflow automation software saves teams lots of time, but it’s important to use it properly and deal with problems that pop up. Automating your workflow isn’t always smooth sailing, so it’s important to keep monitoring progress and taking feedback from your team.
We’ve put together a quick guide to workflow automation if you’d like to learn more about the specifics of it.
What is the best workflow automation software? And what makes these tools great?
If you're looking for a tool that connects apps as part of its approach to workflow automation, then Zapier is widely considered the best workflow automation software. It's one of the oldest, most mature workflow automation solutions, and it supports integrations with more than 3,000 applications.
However, the best workflow automation software for your business will depend on your specific needs. For example, if you're looking to automate your personal tasks, a tool that works with your to-do app and task manager might be a better fit than a complex solution like Zapier. Or, you might benefit from a combination of the two.
Let's take a closer look at what considerations are important for workflow automation software.
1. Low-code vs. no-code
No-code tools let teams automate their workflows using interactive visual builders, as opposed to writing code. This includes marketing automation tools like ActiveCampaign, project management automation tools like Asana, and even dedicated workflow automation tools like Zapier.
If your team isn't experienced in coding, then no-code apps are the best option. You don't want to have to put your marketing or sales team through a Python bootcamp. But if your team is tech savvy, then low-code automation tools (like n8n) generally offer more flexibility.
2. Use cases
Workflow automation software automates your existing tasks and processes, so it's important to look for software that best suits your use cases. For example, if you're looking to automate social media management—like planning and scheduling posts, and having them approved—then you'll want to consider software that specifically fulfills these needs.
But if you want to connect different apps and automate processes across them, then you'll need a tool like Zapier or Make.
Flexibility is subjective, so it's a bit difficult to evaluate what products are objectively more flexible than others. Our advice is to carefully check each tool's offering (and try their free trials or plans out, if they offer any) to see if they meet your criteria for flexibility.
For example, if you need software that works across different apps, see how well the one you've chosen fulfills this need. And if you need a tool that lets you customize your automations, take a look at each software's builder before making a final decision.
If you work at a massive enterprise, then implementing workflow automation at scale can improve productivity and save valuable work-hours. In other words, your investment will quickly pay off by reducing costs and improving your bottom line.
But if you're working at a smaller business, it can be difficult to justify splurging on expensive software. So it's important to look for a workflow automation tool within your budget, or find one with a generous free plan.
Unless you're using robotic process automation (RPA) software, it's important to pick workflow automation software that has the integrations you need. If you need to automate tasks across your tech stack, for instance, make sure the software integrates well with your CRM and other apps.
One of the reasons why Zapier is so popular is because of the vast number of integrations it supports—more than 3,000. This means it not only integrates with popular tools, but also with lesser-known ones.
6. Cloud vs. Desktop
Many automation tools run on the cloud, which means they aren't reliant on your desktop or laptop's resources. Cloud-based tools also let you run automations in the background, but this might not be the case if you run desktop automation software.
Our list of the 10 best workflow automation software
Here’s our list of the best workflow automation software for different needs and use cases.
Best for: Dedicated workflow automation
Free plan/trial? Yes. Zapier offers a “free forever” plan with limited features
Zapier is one of the best-known workflow automation tools—it's the platform that made no-code automation accessible. As one of the most mature tools in this space, Zapier boasts integrations with over 3,000 apps, webhooks, and team features (like shared workspaces and team seats) for advanced plans.
Being a no-code tool, Zapier lets you create automation flows using a drop-down menu. The software's most recent addition, Transfer by Zapier, helps businesses automate data entry tasks more effectively by transferring data in bulk across different apps.
If you're looking for a dedicated workflow automation tool, Zapier is an excellent choice. However, some users feel its paid plans are quite expensive (you’re looking at $599 per month if you’re an enterprise), and we agree. So if you need a more affordable option, it's worth considering alternatives.
Best for: Dedicated workflow automation, but cheaper than Zapier
Free plan/trial? Yes. Make's “free forever” plan comes with 1,000 operations a month
Make used to be known as Integromat and is the closest direct alternative to Zapier. Like Zapier, Make lets you connect apps and automate your workflow across them. Make's plans are generally much cheaper than Zapier's, making it a more affordable alternative.
Make is not just a “budget Zapier”, though. It's a great product in its own right, and many users prefer its interactive, visual flow builder to Zapier's old-style drag-and-drop one. However, Make falls quite behind Zapier in integrations—offering over 1,000 compared to Zapier's impressive collection of 3,000 integrations.
That said, Make integrates with most popular apps, so it should have you covered. Just make sure it has the integrations you need before committing to a paid plan—the free one is generous enough to take it for a test spin.
Best for: Personal workflow automation across multiple devices
Free plan/trial? Yes. IFTTT has a free standard plan that gives users access to unlimited existing applets and allows them to create three custom applets
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a powerful automation software that's used for automating personal, everyday tasks. It's different from tools like Make and Zapier, which focus more on automating business processes. Just like Zapier has Zaps, however, IFTTT has applets to automate repetitive tasks. Users can use ready-made applets or create their own custom ones.
For example, IFTTT lets you upload pictures from Instagram to the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), save information from apps like Spotify to Google Sheets, and automate your smart home devices. Another major draw of IFTTT is its mobile app, which allows you to automate tasks from your phone and across different devices.
Best for: End-to-end workflow management and automation
Free plan/trial? Yes. KissFlow offers a 14-day free trial
Kissflow calls itself a digital workspace, which is an admittedly great description of the platform. It’s essentially a suite of tools for remotely managing teams, projects, and workflows. Instead of using multiple platforms (that come with separate subscriptions) to manage remote activities, Kissflow gives you everything under one (digital) roof.
And, naturally, the software suite comes with process automation capabilities. Kissflow's no-code tools let team members build their own workflows and automate them. The platform also supports inter-platform integrations, so you don't need to worry about expensive APIs.
Best for: Enterprises with comprehensive automation needs
Free plan/trial? No, but Workato offers a free demo of their platform
Workato is a workflow automation software built for enterprise needs. It implements automations that are more complex than what Zapier or Make can manage. As with most automation tools, Workato has ready-made automations called “recipes”, and users can create their own custom automations, too.
Workato breaks actions down into steps and conditions, allowing businesses to implement detailed, multi-step automation processes. The software also offers advanced features to facilitate end-to-end automation, including:
- No data loss from interruptions
- Automated error handling
- Access to data from before the automation goes live
Given Workato's advanced feature set, its pricing is quite high compared to other automation tools.
Best for: Tech-savvy users looking for a free Zapier alternative
Free plan/trial? N8n is free to use
N8n's biggest draw is that it's a free, open-source workflow automation software, provided you self-host the platform. If you need N8n for external use, their pricing plans are still very reasonable.
And don't let the word “free” scare you—the platform is still well-developed and extremely mature. Its only major catch is that it requires some coding knowledge to use (it's a low-code solution). So if you or your team members are tech-savvy, N8n is a great tool to start off with.
N8n currently supports over 220 integrations, which is much less than Make or Zapier, but users can leverage connectors to automate across other apps. The platform supports complex workflows with branching and merging, and customized error handling.
Best for: Automating sales and marketing workflows
Free plan/trial? Yes. Outfunnel offers a free 14-day trial with all their plans, except for the Enterprise plan
Outfunnel is a workflow automation software designed specifically for sales and marketing teams. As such, the platform integrates with popular marketing software and major CRMs. Setting up the tool is easy, and it'll sync your contacts with just a click.
Outfunnel uses "connections" to connect and automate different tasks. For example, users can sync their web form submissions with their CRM and share the data with team members. It also lets marketing teams implement more sophisticated automations, like checking if a contact is receiving multiple campaigns, or ending a sequence after a customer takes a specific action.
Outfunnel is generally much cheaper for sales and marketing teams, compared to full-fledged workflow automation tools.
Best for: Automating personal tasks
Free plan? Yes. Pleexy offers a free 14-day trial
Unlike workflow automation tools that are focused on processes, Pleexy solely prioritizes task management and automation. The software connects to personal task managers (it currently supports Microsoft To Do and Todoist) with task or project management apps like Asana or Trello.
Pleexy supports two-way communication between task and project management tools and personal task managers. So, if you make a change on Todoist, it'll automatically be applied to Trello, and vice versa.
Pleexy collects relevant tasks from your apps and funnels them into a single, centralized to-do list, making it easy to manage and automate workflows.
9. Microsoft Power Automate
Best for: Automating business processes without integrations
Free plan/trial? Yes. Microsoft Power Automate Desktop is free to use
Microsoft Power Automate is an RPA software used for automating workflows. The desktop tool, part of Microsoft's Power Automate suite, comes free with Windows 10 and 11.
Power Automate stands out from other workflow automation software because it doesn't require integrations. Its RPA functionality acts as a layer of automation that works with existing systems, and performs repetitive actions, like copy-pasting, by recording keystrokes and clicks. So users can automate their workflow without needing to integrate apps.
Power Automate Desktop has some limitations, especially since it runs natively from your computer as opposed to on the cloud. But you can opt for the paid Power Automate suite to get access to the cloud version.
Best for: Enhancing your workflow automation
Free plan/trial? Yes. Magical has a free plan
Magical is a no-code automation tool that helps you automate everyday tasks and your existing workflow. Unlike software like Zapier, Magical doesn't support end-to-end workflow automation, but it does help teams save heaps of time with:
- Our text expander speeds up communication with templated messages, which can be easily personalized with variables.
- Our transfers feature, which eliminates manual data entry by using Magical to auto-populate your spreadsheets or systems (including your ATS and CRM).
One of the biggest draws of Magical is that the app works with your existing systems—just add it to Chrome and let it work where you do. There's no reliance on integrations and no need to connect your apps.
Which workflow automation software should you choose?
There are loads of great workflow automation tools to choose from—the 10 we’ve listed just scratch the surface! The best way to choose the right software is to consider:
- Your use case. Some workflow automation software is better for doing one thing, such as automating sales and marketing operations, than another. Prioritize your needs.
- Your budget. Some tools are a lot cheaper than others.
- The size of your team. Small teams don’t generally need enterprise-grade software.
Thankfully, many (if not most) workflow automation software providers offer a free plan or trial, so you can take the tool out for a spin before committing to a paid plan. Do your homework and you’ll be fine.