A Guided Process is typically used to divide a complex task into a series of steps that allow users to see exactly where they are in a process as they progress toward completion. This is true for both the Train and the Activity Guide, although there are several distinct differences between the two.
A Train is always Sequential. The Train moves horizontally from left to right and features a sequence of steps that must be performed in a defined order to complete a task. The user cannot move on to the next step before completing the previous one, unless a particular step is deemed non-applicable. The progress through the train remains ordered, however once a user has completed the initial steps, they can move back and forth within the steps by clicking on the link at the top of the train. The Train can also have sub-steps in the process which are always one level down from the main or parent step. The Train is most typically used for simple processes that are within one component. For example, a job application process that is entirely within the Candidate Gateway component.
An Activity Guide can be Sequential or Non-Sequential. The Activity Guide organizes tasks into milestones and is presented as a vertical list in the left-hand pane of a WorkCenter. Each milestone includes a specific set of tasks to be completed, either individually or in collaboration with others. The Activity Guide shows you which tasks to complete and sometimes in which order. The user is presented with a suggested (but non-restricted) series of tasks to complete a milestone. However, the user can complete the steps in whichever order they choose, or as events dictate. Some tasks are required, and in those cases, they are marked with a red asterisk. An Activity Guide can also support multiple users and can be used across components. An example is an onboarding process for a new hire that can include multiple users, and numerous steps that involve HR, Finance, Purchasing, Legal, etc.
The following figure shows the elements of a typical Train.
The following figure shows a Train with Steps and Sub-Steps for a job application process.
In the figure above, there are several sub-steps under the main train stop of Qualifications. The sub-step, Experience, is highlighted as active and appears one level down as Qualifications: Experience – Step 4 of 7. This shows the user exactly where they are in the sequence of steps.
In contrast, the Activity Guide appears as a vertical list of tasks to be completed for a specific milestone and appears in the left-hand pane of the WorkCenter. Unlike a Train, the Activity Guide appears only in a WorkCenter.
The figure below shows the Activity Guide in the left-hand pane with required steps marked with a red asterisk.
The figure below details the Status Icons that are typically seen within an Activity Guide.
In the figure above, the required steps are indicated by the red asterisk next to the topic. Welcome, Marital Status and Benefits Summary are required steps under Life Events/Marriage at the top left under Life Events. Several non-restricted milestones appear beneath those. In this example the user is entering new information under Marriage/Name Change.