The basic details of the action are defined on this tab. These are mandatory for all different types.
This should be a description of the action and will be used to uniquely identify the action when it is selected it from a list of all actions.
The action type defines the kind of action which will take place and subsequent fields input will be dependent upon the type selected. The action can be one of the following:
User defined emails to either the employee, line manager, software users or a specified list of email addresses. This incorporates the ability to define the textual content of the email with facilities similar to mail merge document production where data item references can be included, to be replaced by the actual employee details when the email is generated.
Frequently formalised letters or documents are required. The workflow module will automatically produce such documents by exporting the results of a HR Query to a mail merge Word document, a Crystal report or a spreadsheet. When the production of the document is complete, the resulting file can be retained as a proper document attachment against the item which initiated the Workflow. For example, a letter attached to the employees HR record.
Rather than performing a physical action, perhaps a note is required on the employee record with an accompanying review date to ensure the required diaries prompt you at a later date. As with Emails Actions facilities similar to mail merge document production where fields can be included, to be replaced by the specific employee details when the Note is generated.
The Workflow module can also be used to update information on records so that the values of flags could be changed, dates set or the status of certain records could be set to complete.
Rather than simply perform an action, do nothing. In the majority of circumstances the waiting time will be assigned to the original action rather than set up here, however this allows an action of simply waiting to be set up. This could be used to set up a reminder such as awaiting the return of some documentation. At the appropriate time, the Workflow system will acknowledge the expiry of the time limit set and activate the next designated action.
If the action being set up is to update any fields on a record, e.g. the employee’s record, or to produce an email or documentation which is to be personalised with information specific to an employee, then the name of the relevant table should be entered here. A drop down list of all the available tables is provided. On the Email tab and the Change Details tab, Fields will display all the fields from the table chosen here and any of these can then be selected for use. Note that fields from the employee’s HR record, such as their name, address etc, are always available for use in the email or other documentation in addition to the table selected here.
Each action will have to be performed either by the system, automatically and without user intervention or manually by an appointed user through a specific screen which is known as the Workflow Workbench.
Some actions will, by nature, be suited to being performed automatically and others may be best done in a monitored environment and ultimately the choice of how these are performed is yours. For example the dispatch of emails, creation of notes and diarised events and the changing of application data can be done automatically and if a large number of these are created then this is certainly to be promoted. Performing such actions via the workbench could create an unnecessary extra step making the workflow awkward and time consuming. Others, such as the production of documentation, particularly if this includes printing or other associated functions, are perhaps best suited to the Workbench which performs each of the selected actions in sequence and as such you can monitor progress and perform any peripheral tasks such as loading the correct stationery into a printer at the required point.
Prompt Next Action (Workbench Actions only)
When using the workbench to control actions such as printing document it may be necessary to have a control over when the next action is to commence to ensure that the first action is successfully completed first. This allows the user time to check that, for example, a letter has been printed correctly, before the next action is the workbench is started.
In instances where the action is updating a field on a table or sending an email, this is likely to be a cumbersome and unnecessary extra step.
When performing an action it is envisaged that you would usually want it to be performed at the earliest opportunity. However, if a specific delay is required then each action may include an Action Diary Rule which determines when exactly it should be performed. Although it may be, for example, 10 days following on from today (i.e. the date of the Workflow) you may want it to be 10 days following on from a specified date on the initiating record, such as the last day of sickness on an absence record. This facility allows you to define the Action Diary Rule which is used in conjunction with the selected base date on the Process definition. The rule can be selected from the drop down list provided. To set up new rules please refer to the Diary Rules in the software.
This is left empty if you want the actions to be performed immediately.
Frequently the nature of a Workflow will be to dispatch a document or an email and await a response from the recipient (such as the Employee or Line Manager) before deciding what to do next. Often the Workflow will be completed once the response has been obtained within the time frame but the main purpose of a Workflow system is to determine what to do next when the required response was not achieved, i.e. what action do we perform in this circumstance and when.
This Waiting Date is a simple diary rule already used in other areas of the Workflow module but it calculates the date by which we expect to have a satisfactory response to the action.
If the required response is received then it is anticipated that a designated user would be responsible for accessing the Workflow Workbench, switching to Waiting mode (i.e. present all actions with a Waiting Date attached, and select to Resolve it which tells the system that a satisfactory response has been received and the next action (if any) should be performed. Please see the definition of Responses to see how the system determines which particular Action is queued up next.
Similarly the Workbench or the HR Start of Day may recognise that the action has expired and that we should now instigate the next action designated for such a scenario. Again please consult the Responses definition to control which action this is.
This is an important control mechanism of Workflow as it is usually responsible for deciding which action is performed next and when.