An introduction to ArcGIS Workflow Manager

Available with Workflow Manager license.

ArcGIS Workflow Manager is a scalable workflow management system that automates and simplifies many aspects of performing and managing GIS and non-GIS work in an organization. It optimizes GIS operations by providing real-time tools for managing people, processes, and products required to complete work. It drives improvements in production efficiency by maintaining standardized, centralized, and repeatable workflows across your organization to reduce errors and inefficiencies and save time.

The most common workflow that Workflow Manager supports is a basic data editing workflow. An example use case is an editor updating spatial or attribute information for a location. A GIS specialist updates a map based on the captured information. Their work is then validated by a quality control (QC) specialist, and if there are any issues, it's sent back to the GIS specialist. This use case illustrates the basic functionality of Workflow Manager. The series of steps needed to complete the task in this scenario is called a workflow, and one instance of a workflow is called a job. Jobs can be associated with specific properties and can be assigned to multiple members or groups in an organization. Steps can perform various tasks, such as opening a map for a GIS specialist or prompting a user to answer a question to route the job in different directions.

Workflow Manager can then extend this type of workflow by sending email notifications at key points of the workflow, managing and cleaning up spatial data versions, running geoprocessing tools to assist in initial site selection, and so on.

Workflow Manager can also be flexible in how it manages where the workflow occurs and can seamlessly handle all interaction points. For example, the work can be performed in the field in a mobile app, the data editing can be performed in ArcGIS Pro, and QC can be performed in the Workflow Manager web app.

The scenario above is just one type of workflow. Organizations can have many types of workflows for business processes, which can include site inspections, land-use planning, document management and approvals, mobile apps, and fully automated workflows. With Workflow Manager, you can improve business processes, data quality, and accuracy; optimize resource allocation; enhance communication; and reduce your organization's production costs.

Workflow Manager components

In Workflow Manager, several components make up a job. Depending on your duties in your organization, you may only need to use a subset of these components.

Workflow items

Workflow items are single instances of Workflow Manager that allow groups in your organization to perform different types of work. When you use multiple workflow items to separate your organization’s various groups, the unique requirements and work done by one group won’t interfere with the other groups.

Step templates

Step templates are preconfigured steps designed to perform various types of actions when a job is run, such as opening a map, running a tool, asking a question, and so on. Each step template contains a preconfigured name and default values for step properties, options, and styling. When a step template is added to a workflow diagram, it becomes a unique step in the workflow and its default values can be customized as necessary.

Workflow diagrams

A workflow diagram is a visual representation of a business process and consists of individual steps and paths. In Workflow Manager, this is more than a simple flowchart, as each step can be configured with its own type, properties, options, and style, and paths can be configured to perform specific actions after a step is run. For example, a question step prompts you to answer a question, and a mapping step opens a specific map. When a path is followed, it can change the status of the job or change the person to whom a step is assigned. By designing a workflow with different types of steps and paths, an organization can model end-to-end work that crosses multiple departments, locations, and software products.

Job templates

All jobs are created from a job template that is associated with a workflow diagram. The job template contains the default job properties assigned to a job when it's first created, such as the first person to whom it is assigned; the priority and due date; and any additional job properties that were added by your organization.


A job is a single unit of work in the Workflow Manager system. In some organizations, a job may be known as a work order or a task. It can be assigned to a person, many people, or a group, and scheduled for completion by a certain date. It includes the workflow steps to complete and the job's details, outlining its scope. It can also contain additional help for completing steps, attachments, the job's location, and associations to spatial data. Many jobs of the same type can be created in the system.

Job locations

Workflow Manager allows work to be associated with a geographic location that can assist with managing and automating your jobs. The job's location can be defined as a point, line, polygon, or as multipart lines and polygons. You can also use a job's location to streamline jobs as follows:

  • Visualize jobs on a map and change the color of the locations based on attribute values defined in shared charts to create a visual job status manager.
  • Use the boundary of a job's location as an input for a tool, model, or script that runs as a step in a workflow.
  • Zoom to a job's location when a map is opened in the Workflow Manager web app.
  • Share a job's location with web or mobile apps.