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Work Flow

Namespace: WIN_COM_API
One take:

The defined series of tasks within an organization to produce a final outcome. Sophisticated workgroup computing applications allow you to define different workflows for different types of jobs. So, for example, in a publishing setting, a document might be automatically routed from writer to editor to proofreader to production. At each stage in the workflow, one individual or group is responsible for a specific task. Once the task is complete, the workflow software ensures that the individuals responsible for the next task are notified and receive the data they need to execute their stage of the process.

Source: Webopedia
Another take:
When a system’s main active responsibility is to act as a “chauffeur” or “guardian angel” for a particular document or other work-product through all or part of it’s lifecycle, the system is said to be a “workflow system”. A system which has such responsibilities in addition to others, it is said to have “workflow requirements”. A workflow system often integrates a number of other (often “legacy”) systems each of
which has a specific subtask to accomplish. If a new system is organized as a series of subsystems each responsible for a particular task, the part of the system which routes the work around can be considered the “workflow manager”.
-- Source:

I've been researching topics related to workflow recently, and the seem to be several interesting abstracted views of workflow:
  1. Workflow as implemented in micro-architectures, as for example here. Read the whole thing. These patterns scale.
  2. Workflow as application control, perhaps with Business Object implementations in varying Business Object Architectures.
  3. Workflow as macro-architectures, involving independent client applications, and client application intergration, like Enterprise Integration PatternsOffsite link to
and, at a slightly lower level of abstraction, Managed Process Application PatternOffsite link to
. Current thinking and implementations (2004) are substantially message based...

-- Steven Black
See Also Work Flow Patterns
See Also: Collaboration, Collaborative Tools, Work Group Computing
Contributor: Fernando Alvares, Steven Black
Category Application Design Category Definitions
( Topic last updated: 2004.04.21 11:19:44 PM )