Workflow, Process and Use Cases: Setting the Record Straight

I am hearing lots of talk about workflow methods, process modeling and use cases. Are they all referring to the same thing, or are they distinct concepts? Allow me to clarify this confusion.

A workflow is a description of the work being done in an organization from a document flow perspective. For example, when an insurance claim is received, workflow refers to the journey of the claim through the insurance company that ultimately produces a check to pay the claim. There are numerous steps in that workflow. The physical claim will be received by mail, inspected by a claims officer, then a claims adjuster, then policy rules are checked to validate the claim and finally when all is okay, a check is issued and all the appropriate accounting is done. The workflow for this identifies all the actors in this scenario, their points of contact with the organization, the various forms required by the organization and the connectivity of the flow of the documents. There are many workflow tools that let you model the visual flow, the document capture and the sequence of steps.

A process is slightly different. A process is an activity or function of the organization that brings value to the organization and mostly to the clients of the organization. To properly understand and capture a process, we must know its inputs and outputs, its rules and constraints, the mechanisms of …


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