Any person, department, system, machine that “holds the work.” In other words, anyone or anything that directly impacts the work in the flow.

As-is workflow

The accurate representation of how the work is currently organized. A snapshot of the workflow under present circumstances, how the work is happening now. 


  • The use of technology (such as software or machines) to complete specific tasks without the need for human action.
  • Typically automations are used to manage repetitive, predictable tasks that do not require problem-solving or decision-making skills.
  • Emails, notifications, approvals, and document creation are some examples of tasks that can be automated. 
  • Learn about the benefits of human-centered automation
  • See also task automation, business process automation (BPA), and workflow automation

Business process

A group of activities, tasks, systems, data, people, machines, and other actors that allow an organization to achieve a strategic goal. Workflows are the building blocks of business processes

Citizen developer

  • A person who is not a professional software developer
  • A person solves workflow or process problems using no-code or low-code tools. 
  • A practitioner, someone who has their hands on the workflows and understands the problem based on experience. 
  • See also What is a Citizen Developer? 
  • See also Dawn of the Citizen Developer


Any internal or external stakeholder who receives output from the workflow. According to Sharp, a customer “can be identified and can pass judgement on how satisfactory the result and the process are.” (Sharp, 246). 


The organized sequence of actions, tasks, information, and actors that produce a desired output. The order in which handoffs take place and the work is completed. Typically illustrated with a flowchart or diagram. 


A graphical representation of the steps required to complete work. Begins with a triggering event and ends with a result. See an example of a customer onboarding flowchart. 


  • The point in a flow where ownership of the work changes. This may be a transition between people, departments, systems, or tools.
  • For example, during the hiring process, a handoff typically occurs when the recruiter receives a signed offer letter and then transfers the information to the HR team to begin the onboarding process. 


  • An approach to problem solving that relies on software or applications that do not require programming or coding skills. 
  • The configuration of out-of-the-box software or application modules to address problems with workflows or processes. 
  • A strategy for addressing IT bottlenecks that democratizes access to problem-solving tools
  • See also: An Introduction to No-code Platforms
  • See also: Portals to Tomorrow: No-code & Low-code Tools


The result of the workflow or a step in the process. Outputs should be discrete, countable, and traceable to a particular goal. 


  • An organized system for achieving a strategic goal.
  • The flow of work (time, actions, energy, resources) that produce a specific outcome.
  • Sometimes used interchangeably with “workflow,” the term process may also refer to broad, end-to-end business processes (such as a procurement process) or a more specific instance of work within a broad process (such as a pay invoice process.)
  • Sometimes used interchangeably with "business process."


  • The end product of a workflow.
  • According to workflow specialist and author Alan Sharp, results must be “discrete, identifiable, countable, and essential." In other words, you should have a separate, measurable result for each instance of the workflow that is completed. 


  • A system of actors, systems, tools, and information that produce specific outcome.
  • The activity of a subprocess supports a broader business process. For example, the purchase order process is a subprocess of procurement process.
  • Activity within a broader process. See also “Process.”
  • Sometimes used interchangeably with "workflow."

Swimlane diagram

  • A type of diagram that illustrates 1)all the actors in a workflow 2)how and when the work moves between the actors, and 3) the end result required for the workflow to be successful. 
  • The "swimlanes" are horizontal lines that show which actor holds the work at any point in time, as well as the sum of all the activities for a particular actor.
  • View the swimlane diagram for an employee onboarding process


  • The building blocks of workflows. Tasks are specific instances of work that must be performed (usually within a designated time period) in order to complete a workflow or process.
  • Examples of tasks include sending emails, creating documents, data entry, labeling products, or creating reports. 
  • Many types of tasks can be automated in order to create a better employee experience and to free up resources and time for more valuable activities. 
  • See also Task Automation.

To-be workflow

The desired or planned organization of work. An optimized or modified version of an "as is" workflow. 


An event or action that puts a workflow in motion. Examples include receiving an order, creating a request, or the arrival of an email. Triggers, along with results, establish the boundaries of a workflow. 


Activity (either physical or mental) that achieves a specific result. A task or series of tasks. 


  • A defined and organized series of tasks that produces a specific outcome. The workflow has an identifiable start point (trigger) and end point (result). The work moves between actors including people, departments, machines, and systems.
  • See related article "What is a Workflow?"

Workflow analysis

The act of reviewing a specific workflow — as well as each of its individual components — in order to understand its degree of efficiency, its impact on other workflows and processes, and identify problems or opportunities for improvement. 

Workflow diagram

  • A visual representation of the activity, information, time, and resources within a specific process or workflow. There are different types of workflow diagrams depending on the degree of detail and depth of information required. Sometimes referred to simply as a flowchart.
  • See also: Common Flowchart Symbols
  • See also: Workflow Diagram Examples & Best Practices

Workflow management

  • An approach to work that focuses on the boundaries, elements, and relationships within workflows and processes.
  • Workflow managers look for opportunities to understand and optimize workflows. 
  • Goals of workflow management include creating better employee experiences, improving the efficiency of flows and processes, and making the best use of all available resources. 
  • See also What is Workflow Management?

Workflow management system (WMS)

  • SaaS platform or application designed to organize and optimize workflows.
  • Workflow management systems are used to add control and visibility to tasks, workflows, and processes by tracking work progress and related KPIs.
  • Features include ability to automate some elements of the workflow, tools (such as forms) to capture and organize data, reports/dashboards, as well as features that support collaboration. 
  • Sometime used interchangeably with "workflow software," "workflow management tool," or "workflow platform."
  • See also: 10 Features You Need in Workflow Automation Software

Workflow mapping

  • The work of analyzing a workflow in order to identify all of its components, and then illustrating the flow using a chart or diagram. 
  • See also "Process Mapping: The Ultimate Guide."

Workflow modeling

  • The process of planning and organizing a workflow in order to identify all of the actors, boundaries, and relationships that contribute to the result. A workflow model can be the basis for a diagram.


See why companies choose Pipefy to help them optimize and automate workflows

Workflow mastery means understanding and being able to apply the core concepts of workflows, processes, and tasks.