Characteristics of Process Steps

A step is a unit of work; it identifies an activity or task(s) that needs to be done before the flow can move forward. Steps are explicitly defined and operationally independent units of functionality. Each flow consists of multiple process steps, and a single step can be in multiple flows.
This is a list of process steps characteristics:

Step initiation depends on prerequisites being satisfied

Process steps get initiated until all the prerequisites are satisfied (though this can be manually overridden by clicking a “Proceed” button and giving a reason). A step doesn’t get started until someone has been notified that it needs to be done.
Steps surface in the responsible party’s activity feed
Instead of the user going from application to application to complete their process steps, the process steps appear in the user’s activity stream. For example, if a manager needs to approve a service request, instead of going to the service management application, the request will simply show up in their activity stream, along with any associated notes, attachments and a direct link to the record being acted upon.

Steps can be adapted to the prevailing conditions

The sequence in which a step is executed, and the rules by which it is governed, can differ from flow to flow and flow instance to flow instance. Users can spawn additional steps as they are being performed – these can be assigned to someone else and must be completed or canceled before the parent task can be completed.

Steps include just-in-time guidance

Employees need information quickly – they can’t wait for colleagues to email them back and they may not all be in the same office to speak in person. Acquisition of knowledge in a fast-paced, complex world becomes less important than the ability to search, create, and manipulate information to generate knowledge on demand and just-in-time learning. The best way to visualize this is to recall the movie The Matrix, in which revolutionaries trying to free an enslaved human race are hard-wired for data downloads. When in need, characters bark out their knowledge needs to colleagues who download the appropriate information – from driving directions to kung fu.
Guidance can be localized for different languages, and improved on the fly, as the instructions are being given. Poor guidance can make a simple task hard to perform, while great guidance can simplify a complex task.

Steps are a focal point of collaboration

Change is the organizing force, not a problematic intrusion. – Margaret J. Wheatley, Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time
The step is a collaboration hub. Worker’s tasks almost always have the potential to become collaboration tasks, because performing them raises questions that other people have to answer – meaning someone else has to supply information before the task can be completed. By facilitating direct, unfiltered, unmediated dialogue within the organization, between suppliers, and with customers and prospects, the organization’s responsiveness enhances its reputation and prospects.
The step provides a natural context for collaboration and for the storage of relevant knowledge. T he step provides a natural context for collaboration and for the storage of relevant knowledge.  

Steps provide context

Context drives the process, and a different context results in a different process. The participant responsible for process steps will have all the information related to the task at hand available at their fingertips. They will know about special circumstances, previous conversations about the topic, and even the analytics from prior, similar decisions. Having all the information about the steps in a workflow allows users to see what decisions have been made in the past, and what the results of those decisions were.   Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 11.12.08 AM  

Steps faciltate exception handling

When an exception needs to be handled at a step, the exception can be dealt with in three ways: they are either detectable, unknown, or resolvable. When an exception occurs when executing a step, the user is provided with multiple tools to help ensure the fastest path to resolutions. When an exception occurs when executing a step, the user is provided with multiple tools to help ensure the fastest path to resolutions.  

A single, explicit entity is responsible for a step

Every step has an identifiable person or entity responsible for it. This includes users, groups, roles, etc. Assignments can be made manually, or users can be automatically drawn from resource pools as defined in the assignment rules. This capability allows just-in-time resource allocation, enabling a more accurate view of enterprise resource utilization in real time.
Now that you know the characteristics of process steps, learn more about process management by requesting a copy of our white paper.