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(operating system)
The scheduling of independent jobs on a computer.

See also time-sharing, WFL.


The set of relationships between all the activities in a project, from start to finish. Activities are related by different types of trigger relation. Activities may be triggered by external events or by other activities.


The movement of documents around an organisation for purposes including sign-off, evaluation, performing activities in a process and co-writing.

[Stef Joosten "An empirical study about the practice of workflow management", WA-12 report, 1994].


(1) Any series of processing steps in an organization, whether manual, automated or both.

(2) The automatic routing of documents to the users responsible for working on them. Workflow is concerned with providing the information required to support each step of the business cycle. The documents may be physically moved over the network or maintained in a single database with the appropriate users given access to the data at the required times. Triggers can be implemented in the system to alert managers when operations are overdue.

Workflow Keeps Documents Moving
The manual flow of documents in an organization is prone to errors. Documents can get lost or be constantly shuffled to the bottom of the in-basket. Automating workflow sets timers that ensure that documents move along at a prescribed pace and that the appropriate person processes them in the correct order.

Workflow Integration
Integrating workflow into existing software applications may require extensive reprogramming, because although independent workflow software can launch a whole application, a workflow system must be able to invoke individual routines within the application. As a result, vendors of application software have teamed up with workflow vendors to provide the appropriate interfaces and/or they have developed their own workflow capability. Workflow standards developed by the Workflow Management Coalition ( provide interoperability between workflow software and applications as well as between different workflow systems (see Wf-XML).

Workflow Vs. Workgroup
Workflow software is not the same as workgroup software, otherwise known as groupware. Workflow deals with the step-by-step processes, whereas workgroup systems are concerned with information sharing and threaded discussions among users.

Workflow Vs. Workgroup
Workflow manages the sequential tasks required in a transaction, whereas the workgroup (groupware) focus is sharing information. (Illustration courtesy of Delphi Consulting Group, Inc.)
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