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According to Wiktionary (retrieved 17:13, 29 February 2008 (MET)):

  1. A process and/or procedure in which tasks are completed. It may be defined with a flowchart to define actors, actions, results, decisions, and action paths.
  2. The rate at which a flow of work takes place

The automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which documents, information or tasks are passed from one participant* to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules. (, retrieved 17:13, 29 February 2008 (MET)).

Workflow processes are a specific type of operational processes typically associated with work processes in administrative environments. However, any case-driven operational process falls in this category. Workflow technology provides the functionality to support these processes. Since this technology is adopted in many enterprise information systems knowledge about these systems and experience in making and enacting workflow models is relevant for students in operations management. (A course on workflow management, retrieved 17:13, 29 February 2008 (MET)).

One may distinguish between two very different kinds of workflows. Orchestrations define workflows in the more narrow sense, i.e. connect tasks performed by roles. Choreographies define loosely coupled workflows where (sub)organizations communicate through "messages" (e.g. documents or artifacts).

“A workflow pattern is a specialized form of a design pattern as defined in the area of software engineering. Workflow patterns refer specifically to recurrent problems and proven solutions related to the development of workflow applications in particular, and more broadly, process-oriented applications.” (Wikipedia, retrieved June 2010).

In education

Workflow is important in activity-based instructional design models, i.e. both constructivist and modern instructionalist approaches.

See entries about

Tools and languages

See also Groupware.

A workflow management system (WFMS) is a software component that takes as input a formal description of business processes and maintains the state of processes executions, thereby delegating activities amongst people and applications (Byeyens, 2004).

Design and modeling languages

E-science systems

List of toolkits

(Not complete, see also various other entries in the category workflow

  • OpenWFE - open source workflow engine. OpenWFE is an Open source WorkFlow Engine. It's written in Java but features access libraries for languages such as Python, Perl, Ruby, C# (.NET), PHP and pnuts. (see below also)
  • OpenWFEru is an open source Ruby workflow and BPM engine.


See also/in particular Non-Commercial Web Links (




  • Jørgensen, Håvard D. (2004). Interactive Process Models, Department of Computer and Information Science, PHD Thesis, Faculty of Information Technology, Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. PDF, retrieved Aug 2010. (Interesting thesis that develops the concept of Workware, i.e. the integration of workflow with groupware. Also includes good overview chapters that shortly summarize key concepts and technologies)