Nowadays, terms related to Business Process Management (BPM), collaboration or data management are increasingly used. Thus, we are more likely to find approximations and conflations.
“Workflow” and “process” are a good illustration of this idea. For many people, these two terms have more or less the same meaning. However, it is important to distinguish them correctly.
Workflow and process: two different terms?
A process is a set of related activities that transform input elements into output elements. Therefore, almost any action, project, program… can be seen as a process. On the other hand, from a software point of view, workflow is the representation of a series of tasks or operations that are performed by one or more actors (person, company, etc.). A workflow engine can therefore be used to model the process
Workflow: the modelling of professional processes
The workflow is used to describe the process and its structure: the tasks to be distributed among the different actors as well as deadlines, validation methods, and the information to provide to each actor.
Processes can therefore be modeled as workflow. In other words, they can be represented as a series of structured tasks. Nonetheless, the business value is carried by the process. Hence the notion of business process…
It can be argued that the difference requires a step back but at the conceptual level, it is there!
Moreover, this distinction directly leads to a question: In IT tools, are workflows a default implementation choice to take into account business processes?