I always thought that a process has to have an output in terms of a deliverable. However, I found the following in the ISO 12207:

process outcome
observable result of the successful achievement of the process purpose
Note 1 to entry: An outcome statement describes one of the following:
• production of an artefact;
• a significant change in state;
• meeting of specified constraints, e.g., requirements, goals, etc.

What would be an example of a "change in state" outcome of a process in practice? Whatever it is, would there not usually be a document produced to provide confirmation?

  • I think this is a good question, but even with a little editing it still comes across as a list-generating question. I don't think it should be closed, but it could use a bit more judicious editing to be canonically answerable.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Mar 27, 2016 at 21:18

2 Answers 2



Sometimes the production of an artifact is the focal point of a process. Other times, artifacts are a byproduct of the process or they're not created at all. In some cases, it's simply a matter of perspective. For example, is a piece of working code an artifact, a change in product state, or the meeting of a requirement or goal? Pick any three. :)

While one can certainly point to processes that are arguably free of artifacts or milestones, it's a somewhat definitional exercise. The real point of the text you quoted is to communicate that a process need not produce a concrete deliverable to be considered a process.

Changing State

In an agile context, user stories can represent state changes within the iterative development process. A user story generally changes state in several ways:

  • A user story conceptually moves from one queue or column to another. For example:

    • a story may be handed off between development and QA, or

    • a feature may be merged into the continuous integration branch.

    While there may be tangible outputs involved, the tracking process itself has state-change as its primary output.

  • A user story changes its status from not done -> done, or incomplete -> complete according to the Definition of Done. This is about as pure an example of state change as you are likely to find.

In other words, while a process may produce an artifact (e.g. a document, a demo at a Sprint Review, or a user-visible feature within the product), it doesn't have to produce an artifact to be considered a process. A process may deliver something tangible like a new widget, change the state of something by updating a document or embiggening a whatsit, or it may simply output something intangible like an idea as input to another process.


Service and training are two examples. There is a state change-a customer being served and a change in knowledge or skill-without having a product being produced necessarily.

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