In this article I will explain the relationship between Apps, Processes (sometimes referred to as Instances) and Tasks. It can often seem like these terms are interchangeable, but they do each have a specific and distinct meaning.
1. Workflow Apps, Processes, Tasks and their Relationships
A workflow app (hereinafter referred to as an “App”) is a defined set of work practices and business rules within an organization. For example, there are “Expenses Request” or “Respond to Inquiries” Apps. It is a diagram of which work operation is processed by whom and in what order. The type and number of pieces of data to be handled are also defined by the designers of the App. Once the App with defined business rules is released, it will go live as a system and allow Users to perform the work operations. The App designer can change the settings of the App as the business rules are changed and [release] the new version of the App to reflect the new rules.
1.2 Processes (Instances)
A Process is a single item that is processed according to the App definition. For example, in the “Expense Request” App, when person A and person B each submit a request two Processes will be started. Each Process will proceed according to the App definition at the time it is started, and when all the steps in the Process are completed the Process will end. Once a Process is started, it follows the App definition at the time it was started, even if changes are made to the App during the process.
1.3 Tasks (Work Items)
A Task is an individual work operation within a Process. For example, in the “Expense Request” App, there is a “Request” Task for person A and an “Approval” Task for person A’s supervisor. Steps that are handled by Users are called Human Tasks, and generate work items that are listed in [My Tasks]. On the other hand, Steps that are processed automatically based on rules set in the App definition are called Automated Tasks. For example, when a Process reaches the [Service Task (PDF Generation)] it will automatically create a PDF with the contents determined by the configuration of the Task and the Data Items within the App.
2. List of Properties
The App version information and other information is displayed on the App details screen, including the App ID, the creator, workflow diagrams, data settings, and other App definition details. (App Administrator Permissions required)
- Active/Inactive: indicates whether or not the App is currently available to Users for starting Processes
- App ID: a unique identifier for each App in the format m##
- App Name: the name of the App
- Category: a parameter which can be manually set by the User, allowing you to group related Apps together
- Priority: Apps with a higher Priority number will be listed higher in the App List (1 being the lowest, although Apps with no priority will be listed at the bottom)
- Summary: a text box where you can write a brief description of the App’s function
- Note for App Administrator: a text box where information relevant to the App administrator can be stored
- Create Time / User: records the date and time the App was created and the User who created it
- Version: each release is given a new version number. Each Process operates according to the definition of the latest version. A snapshot is an auto-saved version under development
2.2 Process (Instance)
On the Process details screen, the Process ID, Process Start User, record and current status of the task, and values entered in the data items, etc. are displayed.
To open the Process details screen, click the [Details] button in [My Tasks] or the search results list.
- App: the App from which the Process was started
- Title: the Process title. This is a Data Item that is common to all Processes
- Process ID: a unique number assigned automatically to each Process throughout the entire workflow platform
- Process Sequence Number: a number that is automatically assigned to each Process that is started in the App
- Process Status
- Ongoing: a Process which is still in the middle of processing and has yet to be completed
- Completed: a Process which has reached an End Event
- Terminated: a Process which has been forcibly stopped using the Terminate button. A process which has concluded at a Terminate End Event will have a status of Completed
- Process Start User: the User who started the Process. For Processes that are started automatically this may not be recorded
- Process Start Organization: the Organization to which the Process Start User belongs when the first Task is executed
- Process Start Time: the date that the Process was started
- End Time: The time/date that the Process was completed
2.3 Task (Work Item)
Tasks that are in the [Offered] or [My Tasks] lists of the User responsible for them will be displayed in the Current Step section in the Process details screen.
- Step Name: the title of the current Task
- User: the name of the User to whom the current Task is assigned. When the Task is waiting to be accepted candidates are displayed
- Organization: the Organization to which the person responsible belongs when the Task is completed
- Status: indicates the current status of a Task. “Unprocessed” means the Tasks has not been initiated, “Processing” means it is in progress
- Offer Time: the date and time that the Token progressed to the current Task
- Allocated: the date and time that the handler was confirmed
- Start Time: the date and time that the [Operate Task] button was clicked, or when the [Start and Operate First Step] button was clicked no the Process Detail screen
- Deadline: if a deadline exists on the Task the deadline time will be displayed here
- End Time: The time/date that the Task was completed