In some instances it may be desirable to have control over when certain actions actually take place or whether they are cancelled rather than automatically initiate them each time the process occurs. In this case they can be sent to a holding area known as the Workflow Workbench.
In the case of a chain of actions, subsequent actions will always be sent to the workbench and this provides the means for the operator to monitor and control responses.
The workbench presents all the actions outstanding as a list in the format of a grid with all the data interrogation facilities associated with it. This allows actions to be sorted and the user can decide whether to perform them or not.
Where further actions have been defined, they will also be listed in the workbench, waiting there for the appropriate waiting time until the next action is required or they are marked as completed.
The Workflow Workbench is at the heart of the workflow system and is the control centre providing the user with the ability to perform or cancel actions or to choose to take alternative actions if required.
The Workbench is presented in grid format with the sophisticated sorting and display features associated with it. Initially the grid contains all actions waiting to be performed up to the current date. The first two columns of the data are the check boxes used to control what happens next to the action i.e. Perform or Cancel if it is an action, or Expired or Resolved if it is an action waiting for the next stage in the workflow chain.
The top of the screen shows the buttons grouped according to the type of function they complete i.e.
Allows you to interrogate the data, sorting it, finding items, selecting by individual employee, etc.
Perform, cancel and intervene with the actions.
Control the display of the data in the grid itself i.e. which fields are shown.
When the window is initially opened all the outstanding actions for all employees are displayed. However, this list can be refined so than just an individual employee is shown. Employee opens the Employee Search used throughout the software to find an employee’s HR record, as a new window to assist in finding the required employee’s record. Once an employee has been selected then using Search will show only information for that particular employee (also, taking the Actions/Waiting and Date criteria into account). Use Clear to return to viewing actions for all employees.
Actions or Waiting
The displayed actions can be switched from those which are ready to be performed to those which are waiting actions whose waiting period has expired. This field is used in conjunction with the date field next to it to refine the list of actions shown.
For example, if Waiting is selected with a date of 03/03/2008 the grid will display all the waiting actions for which the waiting period ended before or on 03/03/2008.
Clear will clear the currently displayed details ready for the next search.
Search will search for actions according to the selection criteria entered into the date and Actions/Waiting fields.
Controlling Actions in the “Actions” section i.e. “Perform”, “Intervene” and “Review” provide the control over which actions are executed and what happens next. When viewing a list of “actions” the first two columns displayed allow the user to select what is to happen to the action next. It can either be performed i.e actually executed or cancelled in which case it will not be executed and will be removed from the workbench and no further actions will take place.
Executing an Action
To perform an action the action should be selected from the list by clicking it and the Perform check box should be ticked. When Perform is selected all those actions in the grid with the perform box checked will be completed. If there is a chain of actions involved, the sequence will move on to the next stage. If the action has a waiting time set then it will go into waiting mode and stay in the list of waiting actions until its expiry date is reached.
Note that, clicking on the Perform column heading has the result of selecting ALL the actions in the list to be performed. Clicking again will deselect them all. Clicking the Cancel column heading has the same effect, selecting ALL the actions to be cancelled. Therefore, care should be taken to ensure this is only used when to perform ALL actions is the desired result.
Cancelling an Action
Cancelling an action is completed in a similar way to performing one, except that the “Cancel” check box is selected before Perform used.
It may be useful to see what the results of performing an action will be i.e. to see what will happen next and Review will show the chain of events linked to the selected action in a separate window. The display is shown as a tree diagram.
The “intervene” option can be used when it is neither desirable to perform or to cancel an action but it is preferred to do an alternative. First the action which you wish to intervene with should be highlighted in the grid. Selecting “intervene” will then open a window showing a list of possible alternative actions to the current one. These alternatives are the “next actions” which have been set up against the current action. Any of these can be selected by double clicking it in the list . Before this alternative action takes place you will be prompted “Are you sure you wish to continue?” If the intervention was done in error responding “N” gives you the opportunity to cancel. Responding “Y” will perform the alternative action selected. To cancel the action altogether the blank alternative at the top of the list can be selected and performed.
Changing the Grid Display
The final section of Clear, Edit and Save allow the changing of the grid display of actions. Selection of Edit opens a new window showing all the fields which can be displayed as columns of the grid. The left hand list shows the fields available and the right hand side shows those currently in use. To add a new column a field is transferred from the right hand list to the left hand list by selecting it and clicking the “>” button. Similarly, it can be de-selected by sending it from the right hand list back to the left.
Once the grid has been altered to suit you, the current layout can be save using Save. Next time you enter this screen the grid displayed will be the last one used.