While it is easy to mistake one with the other, business process management and workflow are two very distinct entities with differences that matter to a lot of information technology professionals and business intelligence practitioners.
To begin, workflow is actually concerned with the sequencing of activities in an application specific manner, using a predefined set of instructions that may contain one or two automated procedures which are software-based or manual work-based.
BPM, on the other hand, is more concerned with the definition, implementation and management of different types of business processes that are independently defined of any single type of application. BPM is actually a workflow in a superset, which can also be differentiated using its ability to coordinate many activities through a wide channel of applications without sacrificing ease of control.
So while the term BPM workflow may be coined in an understandably connected manner, such differences are still quite apparent. However, if one were to put such terms into one cohesive term, we might be able to come up with an acceptable explanation of BPM workflow being a system of repetitive coordinated orchestrations, wherein different processes are monitored and ensures success in a cyclical manner that repeats itself over and over again for as long as the channels remain steady.
When workflow processes are connected to the single applications, the flow or the cyclical manner of the entire thing is then hardwired in order to accommodate other means of reaching or completing the same task or objective.
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