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Getting Some Perspective: Using Process Descriptions toIndex Document History

Paul Dourish, Dik Bentley, Rachel Jones, Allan MacLean
Process descriptions are used in workflow and related systems to describe the flow of work and organisational responsibility in business processes, and to aid in coordination. However, the division of a working process into a sequence of steps provides only a partial view of the work involved. In many cases, the performanc of individual tasks in a larger process may depend on interpretations and understandings of how other aspects of the work were conducted.

We present an example from an ethnographic investigation of one particular organisation, and introduce a mechanism, which we call "Perspectives", for dealing with it. A "Perspective" uses the process description to provide an index into the history of a document moving through a process. Perspectives allow workflow systems to manage and present information about the execution of specific process instances within the general frame of abstract process descriptions.
Proc. of Group '99, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A., 14-17 November 1999.