As a spin-off of the age old question “which came first, the chicken or the egg”, from a BPM perspective, which came first, data or activities?
I think it is safe to say that both are important components of a process, activities need information to consume and produce and information is driven and developed by activities. I also think it is safe to say that there are business processes that are more activity centric and other processes that are more data centric. Think of a manufacturing process versus an IT help desk process.
Within a manufacturing process, I would ascertain that the process is more activity centric than data centric. If you look up the definition for manufacturing, a common theme is “produce something”. In a manufacturing process, the activities will continually build upon one and another until a completed product is made. Although information, such as the status of the unfinished product, is part of the process, I would initially approach this process from an activity centric viewpoint.
Within an IT help desk process, although there may be multiple activities, this process appears to me to be more information centric. For example, a help desk ticket is generated, the ticket is assigned to technician who diagnosis the issue and either resolves the issue or escalates it. The significant theme is a help desk ticket, a piece of information that adds additional data throughout the process. So I would approach this process from an information viewpoint, focusing on ensuring that I track the information throughout the entire process.
By default, when we start BPM projects, it is typical to see role based swim lanes of activities, regardless of the type of process. My recommendation, before you jump into the project, take a step back and look at the process from an activity vs. information perspective, it may help you develop a better understanding of the approach and ultimately a better product.