12 Best Workflow Management Tools for Service Businesses

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Dec 14 2022 read

Redundant tasks abound in work life, no matter the industry or specific nature of your business. However, there are many resources available to minimize the impact of these redundancies on your daily operations and protect your team’s productivity and, ultimately, your business’s profitability.

Digital workflow management tools are one such resource. They can facilitate more efficient work and keep your team aware of how their efforts fit into the big picture of your business goals.

Let’s review why key processes should be in place before you decide to adopt new software, then take a look at the best workflow management tools for business users in various functions.

Business Processes To Set Up Before Adopting Software 

Before deciding on a specific platform, it’s best to have a deep understanding of the business processes your team engages in regularly and whether they require simple or complex workflows.

Even if you haven’t identified them as such, nearly every process your team takes part in can be represented in workflow form. For example:

  • A sales call is part of a full funnel representing many interactions between a prospect and your sales team 
  • Completing a single client work task is part of a larger series of dependent tasks in a given project
  • Individual time logs trigger the creation of reports that represent your team’s total billable vs. non-billable time
  • Sending one detailed invoice can be an important step in maintaining regular communication with recurring clients

You could lose out on major opportunities to connect essential stages of your client’s journey from prospect to payment if you silo these single actions. Deciding how best to connect them in your business before you add workflow management software to the mix is critical.

If you need to start from scratch in developing business processes, TechTarget recommends following eight essential steps: 

  1. Take inventory of current processes (even if they weren’t intentionally derived)
  2. Define a goal for each process
  3. Outline activities for each process and identify automation opportunities
  4. Use the appropriate workflow type to create a process map
  5. Assign tasks and decide who will oversee the process
  6. Run through the process, test and iterate
  7. Determine the metrics you’ll use to measure success
  8. Seek feedback from stakeholders

Workflow management software can help with the execution steps, replacing manual processes and offering new, more efficient ways to complete tasks. Below, we’ll dive into the best workflow management tools for some of the core business functions in professional services: sales, project management, billing and overall client work.

Best Workflow Management Tools for Sales Teams

Sales is a department that can benefit tremendously from tightening up workflows. It’s especially important for busy sales teams to automate repetitive processes so they can focus on fully engaging with prospects. 

Here are three popular, effective platforms that can help.

HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM is a pipeline management tool that provides real-time visibility into your firm’s sales pipeline. The free tier offers additional tools to assist sales, along with marketing, customer service and operations professionals. HubSpot CRM is well-known for helping business owners and their teams nurture existing client relationships.


  • Intuitive contact management with enriched data
  • Lead management, including nurturing, scoring and automated sales alerts and tasks
  • Option to send emails and make calls directly from the platform 
  • Thorough deal tracking and pipeline dashboard and performance reports


  • Free subscription option with CRM essentials for new firms
  • Option to upgrade to Sales Hub for additional key features and expanded workflow tools


  • Free plan does not include customer support and it’s very easy to max out its limitations
  • Limited customization that’s not ideal for companies with complex sales processes


Salesforce is a web-based CRM solution that helps companies manage their customers, partners and employees. The platform has multiple pricing levels and features that can scale to enterprise level, making it a great choice for rapidly growing service firms that need a solution to expand to meet their needs.


  • Sales automation, including customer data, workflows and contract management
  • Drag-and-drop interface for lead qualification, discounts and approvals
  • Visibility into a lead’s path for greater personalization 
  • Robust reporting and analytics, including forecasting and pipeline visualization


  • Ability to automate business processes, from simple tasks like creating automatic email alerts to more time-heavy tasks like filling out orders 
  • Fully customizable, with options to add custom fields and tabs, create email templates and build reporting dashboards


Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is a platform built to help businesses of all sizes manage customer relationships. It equips companies with the quality customer data they need to develop longer-term relationships and build sustainable revenue. Zoho has a number of features that help sales representatives engage with leads and predict revenue from upcoming deals.


  • Workflow automation tools for quotes, contract management and more
  • Sales funnel and lead management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Reporting and analytics


  • Free version is available for three or fewer users 
  • Pay-as-you-go service allows customers to pay monthly or annually without a contract


  • While the free and standard levels offer some solutions, many of the workflow-related features available through Zoho are only available on higher-priced plans
  • Users encounter challenges with customer support not being unified for Zoho products 

Top 3 Tips for Making the Most of a Workflow Tool for Sales

  1. Take advantage of opportunities to automate lead follow-up, as ChiliPiper reports that leads are 21 times more likely to be qualified with a response time under 30 minutes.  
  2. Use templates as much as you can — for emails and quotes at a minimum — while keeping their content customized with your ideal customer in mind.
  3. Create a simple process for your team to document where bottlenecks happen so you aren’t losing leads and potential revenue because of workflow mistakes.

Best Workflow Management Tools for Project Management

If your team has already mapped out workflows and primarily requires a task management and team collaboration solution to help simplify the project management stage, the three platforms below may work well. They provide advanced task organization and broad visibility, plus mobile apps for teams that need to work with clients in the field.


Asana is a work management platform built to help teams organize, assign and track projects. Featuring templates, automation and reporting tools, Asana helps teams manage task lists, collaborate across projects and improve visibility into project progress. 


  • List, calendar, timelines and Kanban board
  • Project and task templates to simplify recurring work
  • Goal tracking for company, team and individual levels
  • Reporting dashboards to track progress


  • Adaptable workflows and custom forms for multiple industries and project types
  • Asana offers a free version with limited capabilities



ClickUp is a productivity platform that helps professional services teams plan, organize and collaborate on work using tasks, Docs, Chat, Goals, Whiteboards and more. The customizable platform can fit the needs of teams of all types and sizes.


  • Multiple views, including list, box, Gantt, board and calendar
  • Dashboards to track tasks, time tracking, sprints, status and team members
  • Time tracking using a global timer that works from desktop, mobile and Chrome
  • Goal tracking to measure project goals by tasks, monetary values and more


  • Intuitive and easy-to-navigate user interface
  • ClickUp offers a free version with limited capabilities 


  • ClickUp does not have a built-in CRM, so connecting projects to their respective clients can be challenging
  • Users share that the platform can be “buggy” and support can be slow

Accelo vs. ClickUp


Smartsheet is a more powerful, intuitive version of an Excel spreadsheet. The platform has built-in project management tools like Gantt charts, file sharing and collaborative features that are popular among project managers at small businesses and enterprise organizations alike.


  • Task dependencies
  • Complex process management with customizable permissions
  • Executive dashboard for easy visibility among leadership teams
  • Integrations with project management software


  • No-code automations support custom workflows

  • Charts with percentage readouts to track goals



Top 3 Tips for Effective Use of Workflow Tools for Project Management

  1. Make tasks as specific as possible when you set up new workflows. This will ensure that your project team understands their roles and prove helpful for reworking processes.
  2. Dedicate sufficient time to training your team on new digital tools. You’ll experience the benefits of workflow automation only if your team knows how and when to apply it.
  3. Apply team efficiencies to internal communication. Efficient project management is only one step in the client experience, so connect project workflows to other departments.


Best Workflow Management Tools for Billing and Invoicing

Another key function of your business that stands to benefit from better workflows is billing. While many accounting software platforms include billing functionality, they may not sufficiently allow for workflow optimization. The platforms below are not exclusive to billing, but offer the option to connect billing to other parts of your service business.

BigTime (recently acquired Projector PSA)

BigTime is a professional services automation (PSA) software that offers project management, time tracking, billing and more for accounting and consulting firms, creative agencies, IT providers and other professional services businesses. This platform was built to connect teams and offer company-wide visibility and detailed reporting in a modern user interface.


  • Multilayer approvals for time, expenses and invoicing
  • Full suite of project accounting tools, including budgeting and vendor management
  • Micro and macro business intelligence reports
  • WIP dashboard displays upcoming income


  • Ability to include budget status, tax rates and time logs on invoices
  • Integrates with popular accounting software


  • BigTime and Projector PSA remain two separate — and separately billed — platforms
  • BigTime Wallet required for clients to make payments via online portal

Accelo vs. BigTime

Sage Intacct

Sage Intacct is a cloud-based accounting software with planning and finance-related workflow automation tools to streamline business processes. The platform helps businesses manage projects, resources and budgets and increase visibility. 


  • Custom project accounting to understand costs, revenue and billing for projects
  • Resource management with insight into team utilization and efficiency
  • Financial reports and dashboards act as one centralized, accurate data source
  • Automated revenue and expense reallocation to simplify revenue management


  • Automated billing and data consolidation save time and reduce inefficiencies
  • Connect employee time logs to billing codes to improve billing accuracy



SubscriptionFlow is a revenue management platform designed to optimize subscription management for a variety of industries, including service-based businesses. It supports various billing types, including flat-fee and usage-based. Billing can be automated, saving service businesses from spending time on redundant invoicing tasks, and customers can use the client portal to make payments.


  • Automated billing to manage recurring client work
  • Subscription lifecycle management
  • Retention management, including rewards programs, coupons and discounts
  • Client portal with multiple payment options


  • Variety of billing models match specific industry needs
  • Built-in solutions to support recurring revenue


  • Not applicable for service businesses that don’t do a significant amount of recurring work
  • Workflow customizations are specific to revenue and not connected to other stages of client work

Top 3 Tips for Using Workflow Automation Software for Billing and Invoicing

  1. Before choosing a software that will automate time tracking, determine how many types of billable services you have and ensure that the platform can separately track rates.
  2. Don’t forget to automate follow-up, and encourage clients to pay you faster by experimenting with the day of the week when you send invoices and follow-ups. 
  3. Take advantage of SMS invoicing when available. Square found that invoices sent by text are paid the fastest.


Best Overall Custom Workflow Management Platforms 

While you could go with one of the above nine platforms for managing workflows in a particular facet of your business, we find it’s often a wiser choice for service businesses to use one centralized platform that can set up and attach workflows in sales, project management, billing, ticketing and more.

How do we know? See how one tax consultancy increased its profits by 93% after consolidating its workflows with Accelo. 


Accelo is a cloud-based client work management platform that combines all of the above areas that require workflow management: sales, project management and billing, plus additional products for ticketing, reports and retainer management. Designed to help professional services firms, including agencies of all sizes, Accelo gives your team the power to manage client relationships from prospect to payment in one unified space. This powerful tool provides customizable workflow management solutions across all stages of the client journey to expand visibility, improve collaboration and increase profits.

Setting up a custom event-based trigger in Accelo


  • Custom workflows to automate and streamline business processes
  • Centralized client database connecting client records to projects, tasks and billing
  • Project management tools, including automated time trackers, useful project templates and resource management  
  • Retainer tools, including contract management and recurring work automation



  • The platform may be too robust for small businesses seeking only one or two functions
  • Not the best fit for teams of under five people

Start a free trial or schedule a demo to see how Accelo could be the workflow management software you’ve been searching for.


Hive is a productivity tool that helps teams manage projects and processes with flexible project layouts, native email, resourcing, group messaging and file sharing. Specifically made with hybrid and remote teams in mind, the platform supports collaborative work with communication tools like video chats and shareable notes.


  • Automatic and manual time tracking and timesheet reporting

  • Custom action statuses to help users track progress and urgency levels 

  • Goals tracking helps teams set, track and monitor team and organization goals

  • Custom project and action templates to simplify recurring work 


  • A free version is available for individual users 

  • A library of pre-built workflows are available to customize 


READ NEXT: Accelo vs. Hive


Kintone is a work management platform with a customizable, drag-and-drop interface. It provides data management, project management, CRM and recruitment solutions for various industries. Kintone is a viable option for small businesses or non-profits that need to track customer data and manage basic projects. 


  • Workflow management

  • No-code automation 

  • Inventory management

  • CRM database 



  • Options for configuration can be overwhelming
  • “Clunky” UI, according to some users

Top 3 Tips for Maximizing Efficiency With Software for Custom Workflows

  1. Outline workflows with assignees and time estimates for each task prior to adopting a platform. This gives you a complete picture of how all of your functions connect.
  2. Get expert guidance for your software implementation. The people who work in a given software every day will know it best and be able to fit it to your needs.
  3. When you have a new type of project, service or client, document everything early on. Once you’ve ironed out the kinks, revisit your initial automations to improve them.


Reminder: Integrations and Templates Reduce Redundant Tasks

There are certain types of workflows that apply to many businesses, but there will be some nuances that apply to your industry or business alone. No matter which workflow software you choose, be sure to check out the wide range of integrations and templates available to verify whether you can achieve exactly what you want.

Explore an Automated Client Work Management Platform 

Ready to experiment with what could be possible if your team were to perfect workflow management?

Accelo helps agencies, consultancies, IT businesses, accounting firms and other professional services businesses set up custom automations to save time, maximize efficiency and boost profitability. Try it out via a free trial or click below to set up a demo.



About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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