I am designing a process something like "order online and collect" or "load parcels to a van in the order of the destinations to make unloading easier" (if these were novel). Is it possible to patent something like this in the EU?
It depends on what kind of operational workflow you want to be patented.
In short, a workflow/process/method is patentable, if it has a tangible / measurable result, like a pizza recipe (take a dough, make it flat, put specific ingredient on it, heat it up to 180°C for 20-40 minutes).
In general, European patents shall be granted for an invention, in all fields of technology, provided it is new, involve an inventive step and is susceptible of industrial application.
Novelty and inventiveness will be discussed in the application process. Industrial applicability is almost always given.
You have to make sure your workflow is in any field of technology. The following list of categories shall not be regarded as inventions:
- discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
- aesthetic creations;
- schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
- presentations of information.
And even if your workflow avoids the above-listed categories, European patents shall not be granted in respect of:
- inventions the commercial exploitation of which would be contrary to "ordre public" or morality;
- plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals (but does not applies to microbiological processes or the products thereof);
- methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body (but does not apply to products, substances, for use in any of these methods).
If your workflow avoids all the categories above, it should be disclosed in sufficiently clear and complete manner for it to be carried out by a skilled person.
On softwares: Softwares or programs for computers are not patentable per se, but computer implemented inventions are potentially patentable. That is, you can claim a computer program, which if executed on a computer, carries out a claimed method.