A business process consists of several consecutive steps, such that if a process flows from one step to another then the pair of steps is considered connected in a single direction. What does one call a person or a team which is fed with results from previous step to begin their work?

For example, on a car production assembly line, painting only starts when each detail is ready to be: cut, pressed, and welded. So, the painting stage "consumes" prepared components.

What is a proper name, in general, for a person or team in such a relationship?

I have several alternatives, but all of them seem unsuitable to me:

  • consumer — one is called a consumer when he actually gets a complete result, not an intermediate one
  • customer — same
  • next-in-line — too general, too impersonal
  • stakeholder — too general
  • Not an answer to your question but, in car manufacturing, the painting is one of the first processes to take place, usually immediately after press and welding. :)
    – Ste
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:29
  • I haven't really dig any information about it so I just dumped here the first example I imagined in my head. But after you noticed that, I found that, speaking about automotive, process is really far from what I've thought of it before. :) Thank you for your remark!
    – rishat
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:43
  • I work for Nissan so I know a thing or two about the automotive process. :) We produce two completed cars every 57 seconds!
    – Ste
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 7:09

5 Answers 5


Downstream (deliverables) is the popular term in the software industry. Similarly, upstream is also used to denote the predecessor step.

  • Supply chain model is what I'm actually talking about. But I only found a supplier-customer pair terminology. The latter, to not be confused with end customer, should be replaced by another word. Anyway, it seems very close to the solution.
    – rishat
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 20:21
  • Producer-consumer is also a pairing popular among software developers. Not sure if it is used in the SCM space.
    – moonstar
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 14:21

A dependent step is one that relies on a previous step to occur. It doesn't necessarily mean next-in-line exclusively, but certainly it can be used with appropriate verbiage (upon what does it depend?).

Usage example:

Packaging is dependent upon the completion of QA.

Edit: Another option is subsequent. (or simply next step)

The subsequent process after QA is Packaging.

The next step after QA is Packaging.


In my business, we occasionally refer to internal customers who will receive and make use of (possibly develop/transform) the product of one team before that product (or whatever they make from it) goes to another team and/or, ultimately, to an end-user.


An associate could be a more basic part of a business process than a senior associate.


Conduit might remotely fit your the next in line assumption.

A means by which something is transmitted: an arms dealer who served as a conduit for intelligence data.

Source: The Free Dictionary

  • I may be mistaken, but I think it doesn't actually fit because conduit stands much more for the transport than for an object being transported or a next node in line which is being transported to.
    – rishat
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:47

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