Process, as used in the context of process management, is a recurring production or service workflow consisting of steps, that can be objectively described. Each repetition of such a process is called a process instance.
But isn’t this all a bit too abstract and boring? Let’s try to imagine something real instead: How about Cristiano Ronaldo running a few steps and scoring one goal after another, is that a process? Nope, because a goal is an instant achievement, not a workflow. But soccer match preparations or a routine training can already be considered a process.
The best example of a process is a recipe for preparing a meal. If you cook it repeatedly, you’ll have some habitual workflow, i.e. things that you do from memory, handwritten notes or a recipe in a cookbook. Processes in business are no different. Some are done intuitively from memory with frequent mistakes, others are done precisely according to a fine-tuned description in a document or app such as Procesoid — that’s the key difference between latent and properly implemented processes, which are usually maintained by a clearly designated owner, or a manager at least.
A process workflow can be either simply linear (e.g. going through a checklist), or non-linear and branched (as in a flowchart). In relation to the example of cooking from a recipe, you can either imagine it as a simple meal, which you cook step by step like an omelette, or as a complicated special feast, where everything needs to be cooked at the same time in multiple pots, an oven and is finally served with some stuffing prepared a week in advance. And just as in cooking, the common business practice is that most people understand simple linear processes much more than complex flowcharts, where tiny omissions may lead to painful burns.
You may find it hard to believe, but processes as recurring workflows are here, there and everywhere. You’ll find them in every business, institution and even in almost every household. Surprisingly, there are even people who love processes and improving them. And no, these are not individuals struggling with obsessive–compulsive disorder, but rather process managers and consultants, system engineers and others, who like to keep their things and businesses in order. Even if you aren’t one if these, having well implemented processes obviously will help you.