Workflow is a systematic control over work or is research about automation of work.
Overview of Workflow
Workflow means "the automation of business process" rather than "the flow of work among participants." An information system used to realize workflow is called workflow system or workflow software.
An automation is done based on pre-defined rules defined by Process Definition. In other words, workflow engine interprets the process definitions and exchanges information with each participant in charge of a task. (Workflow engine is sometimes called BPM engine.)
- Software to systematically control business process: Workflow Engine
- A participant in charge of a task: Participant (Humans or information systems)
- A task assigned to a participant: Work Item (It is called "task" in BPMN.)
- A list of tasks of each participant: Work List (Work Item List)
- Data used for control: Workflow Control Data
- Data managed in an entire process: Process Data
- Flow control among information systems: System Workflow (It is called "Integration-Centric BPM.")
- Flow control among human participants: Human Workflow (It is called "Human-Centric BPM.")
In addition, "Terminology & Glossary" published by WfMC aims to unify the terminologies in workflow area.
Functionality of Workflow
- Store / Interpret
- Store process definitions and interpret them
- Create / Manage
- Create process instances and manage them
- Control interactions with participants (input data and output data)
BPM Suite(BPMS) is an information system that supports BPM activities, and includes not only functionalities for workflow but also features "to keep track of the revision history of process definitions," "to analyze the result of process execution," and so forth. In other words, the BPMS concept includes all functionalities for workflow.
History of Workflow
- 1985: FileNet, USA released a workflow product "WorkFlo(TM)."
- 1993: WfMC (Workflow Management Coalition), an international standardizing organization, is started.
- 2002: WfMC published a process definition language, "XPDL1.0."
- 2005: WfMC published a process definition language, "XPDL2.0."
- 2008: WfMC published a process definition language, "XPDL2.1."