Accounting Software: Menu-Driven vs Work-Flow

There are two major designs to accounting software- menu-driven and workflow-oriented.
Menu-driven: When the accounting software icon is clicked on the desktop and login credentials are provided, a menu screen pops up offering a choice of modules and sub-menu tasks from which to choose. The user may be required to click on a choice or input a number that relates to the list of options.
In this environment, the user learns to navigate back and forth between the modules on the main menu and intuitively decide which task on a sub-menu to choose. Example screens:


This is pretty much the typical style that has been engaged for more than 40 years since the advent of scaled-down computer systems from the mainframe variety.

Workflow: has a different look. It will include some aspect of the menu-driven scheme but it will also use a more graphical, spatial design. There are graphical displays of tasks to be accomplished. Once a portion of the task is performed, the master work-flow graph shows a representational figure of the document partially processed, its current status and may offer hints as to what it takes to finish the task.

For example, AP purchases are entered. When one returns to the master graphic, there is a picture of documents sitting in the entry position with an arrow pointing to a location on the graph that will identify the next point required to finish the task. This may be a station that is labeled Open Invoice or Posted Invoices.

In the menu-driven model,  the user will need to go to the menu task labeled POST PURCHASES. In the work-flow model, [SEE BELOW] the user may just need to drag the icon representing the entered purchases to the Post Purchases station and click a pop-up that double checks whether the user is ready to do the task.


For some, the work-flow model may seem easier. There may also need to be several conditional flags set so that when the simple drag and drop functionality is used, the correct underlying actions take place. In the menu-driven scheme, most likely all the underlying actions will be presented as a checklist of acceptance before the final OK is clicked.

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