An open instance (also an active, running instance) represents a single unfinished flow of a process. And it is a good practice in process management for each instance, be it an open or a closed (finished) one, to be assigned to a particular accountable individual.
Sounds pretty idyllic, right? It may be, but only until your boss finds out that 3 out of 12 open orders are running late and all were assigned to you. You won’t be able to wriggle yourself out of this one!
One of the tremendous benefits of business processes, which are implemented and managed properly, is a clearer definition of responsibility, so it is suddenly much more obvious who’s a driver and who’s dead weight. That is one of the reasons why the implementation of process management in companies is often a cause of potential clashes between owners, the management and rank-and-file employees.
If the process instance is open, it means that it hasn’t been successfully completed yet and it is waiting for something (or somebody). And if a process is being managed in some app, like Procesoid, such an instance would be probably highlighted on a dashboard or in the process itself, until it is closed—while the manager can still see who is accountable for it. Some apps also support various middle-states between an open and closed instance: suspended, locked, halted, paused instance etc.
In processes which are frequent or very simple, e.g. a Betting odds update on a whiteboard in a betting shop, the actual open/close status of an instance might not even be written down and it would only be recorded after that instance was properly completed. And finally, in latent processes, which are habitual or intuitive, it might not be clear at all, if an instance is still running, or if it ever happened in the first place; and there’s no record about it to be found. In other words, every process manager’s nightmare!