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The difference between checklists and workflows

What is the difference between a workflow and a checklist?

In general, the two functions differ as follows. Workflows are triggered automatically by so-called triggers. Workflows do not have to be triggered manually and always follow a defined path. In most cases, this is based on the organization chart. For example, it can be defined to whom a vacation request should be sent. This person must then approve the request. Workflows can be created for the following triggers: 

  • Absences (add, edit or delete)

  • Job advertisement (publish)

  • Personnel file (edit)

  • Target agreement (add or edit)


Checklists, on the other hand, map clear workflows. These can be designed individually. An example is onboarding. The following checklist can be defined for an onboarding: 

  • Create employment contract & have it signed (responsible: HR)

  • Request & provide IT equipment (responsible: IT)

  • first working day | Provide documents on company culture (Responsible: HR)

  • first working day | Meet the Teamlead (Responsible: Teamlead)

  • first working day | Meet the CEO (Responsible: CEO)

  • first working day | Sign further documents for occupational safety (Responsible: HR)

  • etc.

However, the template does not yet define to whom each step is assigned. These differ depending on which team the new colleague starts in. As soon as the new person starts in the company, the checklist can be triggered. Here there is the possibility to assign each step individually to the respective employee. They are notified about the step and have to check it off after completion. This provides a constant overview of where the checklist is currently located and for whom a task is pending.