When someone says that they are new to workflow, I understand that they may not have any experience with developing workflows. Maybe that person was not aware when they had followed some predefined workflow first or second hand, but participating in some sort of workflow is impossible to avoid. Anytime logical steps are taken to process information or documents, a workflow is being followed.
Some everyday workflows could be.
1. Buying a house or car
2. Product support calls
3. Ordering products online
4. Processing taxes at the end of the year
These examples above have some process for completing each action. To by a house, data must be processed for
1. Approval of loan
2. Getting the house appraised
3. Filling out contracts
4. Establishing insurance
5. Registering real-estate
A product purchased online has
1. Purchasing request created
2. Processed payment
3. Search inventory to find physical product
4. Product is prepared for shipping
5. Shipping maybe monitored
A workflow is made up of a logical flow of activities. An activity is a unit of execution that performs some task, and each activity is considered to be the building block of the workflow. For example, the workflow for purchasing an online product has an activity for searching for a physical product within the inventory to be shipped. This activity could also be used within other workflows within the company too. Maybe the company is thinking about building an Inventory Workflow. This workflow checks inventory, notifies management of low orders and/or creates an order to be approved. It also may submit to the supplier the reorder. The Purchasing Workflow activity that is used to search inventory, could also be reused in the Inventory Workflow, for monitoring product supply. Reuse of activities demonstrates the power of workflows.