Ok, so it is a robot…
You say :
Maybe I don’t understand the work flow.
What you have to understand is that there is no workflow set in advance in Blender. It offers plenty of tools that you will use to set up your own workflow. So I’ll describe the tools and you do whatever you want with it.
I already told you about the groups and how they can be used to tag objects : you could have a group “Electronics”, another “Hydraulics”, another “Central Processing”, etc… i am just guessing since I don’t know you and how you think. In my case groups are useful since I may model a whole landscape with a village, streets and what not ; I can group buildings by street, vocation, building materials and all I need. Then I chose “Group” in the menu that now read “All Scenes” on your image and I can manage them very efficently.
Another way of organizing your stuff is parenting. That has a more folder like structure. Many users see only the utilitarian aspect of parenting, like when they are after a certain effect (e.g. dupliframes, armatures…) but you can have parents just for the purpose of organization, not transformation, and this will be directly reflected in the Outliner as a hierarchy.
Of course you can use layers and display only visible layers in the Outliner with still the same category menu button.
I like that the outliner will let me see my objects by type, so I can examine just the armatures, just the modeling, just the paths. Right now it works only for the active object which I find a little limitative : I’d like for it to work by selection so I could, for example, select a mesh and a curve to examine both types at the same time.
You actually can use the scenes and chain them up. Let’s say that in scene one you have the landscape, in scene two the buildings, in scene three the vehicules, in four the characters, in five many lighting set ups, in six many cameras. (I know that the last two may surprise but, you see, it is my workflow : I like to be able to concentrate on just the set up of the lighting or just that of the shots organization ). Then from Scene 2 you could go in the Output panel of the scene buttons (F10) and find the oh-so-discreet Set menu button, just below “Extensions” and chose to have Scene 1 as a set. Scene 1 will show and can be rendered but that is all. And you can chain scenes so, from Scene 3, if you make Scene 2 a set you will also see Scene 1 because it is the set of Scene 2. And so on…
The question you had :
I also don’t understand how to have an object in the background view, so you can see where it is in wire frame but not edit it.
could be solved by sets and scenes but I find it easier to set the drawtype of such an object to “Wire” in the Drawtype group of the Draw panel of the Object buttons and make it unselectable in the Outliner with a click on its mouse pointer icon.
As you see, it is almost impossible that you can’t make things clear your own way.
Hopefully this helps.