Digital transformation – it’s on everyone’s mind. As machines and software get faster and smarter, every organization understands that it cannot afford to get left behind. Where to start?Continue reading “Get ready for business process automation”
In Part 3 of this series, we described how Anonymous tasks are vastly simplified in V8.0. Another enhancement that customers have requested is the ability to view a form that they had submitted earlier as part of a workflow.
For example, we automate our internal operations with frevvo. Let’s say I submit a Vacation Request or Expense Report for processing. A few days later I want to go back and look at what I submitted. Prior to V8, we setup an action that notifies me at every step along the way and emails me a PDF copy of the form that I submitted. Email is already hard enough to keep track of and this isn’t an ideal solution.
Now, you don’t have to email PDFs around for record-keeping. You can simply use Task Search to find your workflow and then use the Audit trail to view the information you submitted.
In the audit trail for any workflow, you will see a new View icon. The icon will only show up if you have permission to view the workflow at that step. However, you can always
see things that you submitted – by far, the most common scenario. Click the View button and frevvo will render a read-only view of the workflow using the data from that step.
You can expand/collapse Sections, navigate Tabs and view all the data. However, you cannot make changes.
Obviously, the audit trail also shows the progress of the workflow through various approval stages so you can always see where the workflow is currently sitting and the history as it was routed from person to person. Now, you can also see the data.
We hope you’ll like the improvements that we’ve made. Stay tuned for future articles and upcoming webinars on V8.0 – it will be released to frevvo Cloud this Fall. We’re also already working on features for the next release(s) that we’ll describe here as we go along.
In Part 2 of this series, we described the redesigned Flow Step Properties panel which makes it much easier easier to configure individual flow steps. Another oft-requested improvement is to anonymous steps.
What are Anonymous Steps?
Anonymous steps in a workflow are routed to an email address and do not require the recipient to authenticate before performing the step. They’re super common – for example, a purchase order may be started internally by a sales person, get approved by his/her manager and then get routed to the customer for signature. You probably want to make it as easy as possible for the customer to sign the PO and not require an account, remember passwords etc.
Prior to V8, you had to drag in a separate Email (Anonymous) Step and configure it separately in your workflow. It would send an email and advance the workflow to the following step which was the actual form that the recipient would see. Customers found it confusing and we ran into many situations where workflows were incorrectly designed as a result.
More Intuitive Anonymous Steps
V8 simplifies this significantly by simply removing the additional step in the flow. Now, you simply drop in the form you want the recipient to see or link to an existing one and configure its properties. Click on the cog icon to bring up the Flow Step Properties dialog and navigate to the Assignment tab.
On this tab, you can now assign the task to a user, role or email address in one place. At runtime, assignment is made in that priority order. If you want to route to an email address, simply type it in and leave the other two fields blank – the step will be routed via email and can be performed anonymously. There’s also no longer a requirement to make the entire workflow public.
You can also use control templates in the email field so that it’s dynamic. Start typing and a pick list will appear with matching controls. At runtime, the value of the control is evaluated and if it’s a valid email address, the step will be routed via email and can be performed anonymously.
We’re looking forward to this release and hope you’ll like all the improvements. Stay tuned for future articles and upcoming webinars on V8.0 – it will be released to frevvo Cloud this Fall.
In Part 1, we described improvements to the Flow Designer to make it easier to understand routing for a workflow.
Flow Steps have lots of settings
Another area that we’ve improved significantly in V8 based on customer feedback is the property settings for a flow step. The V7 and earlier properties panel (figure at left) had simply become too large and complex as we’ve added more and more features to frevvo workflows and customers were finding it a bit confusing and hard to use.
We’ve reorganized the properties and moved them into a new modal dialog accessed by clicking the desired flow step and then clicking the properties edit icon (the cog icon). Properties have been reorganized and the names changed to be more intuitive in some cases, but the requirements are generally unchanged for all properties.
Flow Step Properties Wizard
The properties are organized on tabs (screenshot above) and nothing is saved to the editing flow instance until the dialog is submitted. Many properties also have explanatory text so it’s easier to understand what each property means.
If you Submit your changes with any invalid property setting, the dialog will not close and an error message will display. The wizard will automatically take you to the first Tab with an error. Tabs with errors and invalid properties will also display in red so there’s an immediate visual indication.
The wizard also guides the designer to prevent errors. A great example is Step Assignment (screenshot below). It was always possible to assign steps to a user, a role or an email address (no login required). If it’s assigned to a specific user, it does not make sense to also enter a role since it will always go that user. The wizard will grey out the irrelevant fields to prevent errors. The user and role fields also auto-complete with a list of valid users and roles.
The Flow Step Properties Wizard has many more features and we’ll describe some of them in detail in subsequent articles. Suffice it to say that frevvo designers will find it much much easier to configure steps in their workflows using V8 compared to prior versions.
We’re excited about this release and think you’ll like the changes. Stay tuned for future articles and upcoming webinars on V8.0 – it will be released to frevvo Cloud this Fall. Exact date TBD and we’ll announce it here when firmed up.
We’ve been hard at work on some big updates to the workflow designer and we’re excited to share some of what’s coming soon. The main goal of v8.0 is Phase 1 of simplifying flow design and improvements are based on extensive feedback from customers and our own Client Services team. We’ve also added a few oft-requested features that we’ll describe below and in future articles.
The improvements fall into multiple areas:
- A redesigned Flow Design Canvas that makes the flow routing clearer.
- Much easier configuration of flow step properties via a new Flow Step Properties Wizard.
- At-a-glance view of properties for any flow step via a new Flow Step Navigator.
- Vastly simplified routing – you can route to users, roles or an email address in a single unified Assignments UI that checks for and prevents errors.
- Get a read-only view of any task that you completed while the workflow is waiting for downstream approval.
- On-demand refresh of searchable fields for a particular form or workflow without requiring admin privileges.
We’ll preview these changes in this and future articles.
Flow Designer Canvas
The canvas is redesigned to be more intuitive and familiar and to display the flow routing more clearly.
It now represents the flow in a flow chart like format with process flow clearly marked with arrows. The arrows are drawn automatically as the step is dropped on the canvas as shown in the figure.
As a designer adds a precondition to a step, the system automatically draws a precondition as a decision box (yellow diamond). The precondition is part of the step that immediately follows it. For example, it is not separately selectable. The designer can specify a user-friendly description of the precondition which is displayed in the decision box.
As before, when a step is selected, the relevant action icons become visible e.g. create a linked step, edit the form associated with a form step etc.
Linked steps display a double box indicating clearly that the step is a copy of a prior step in the flow.
When dragging and dropping either new steps from the palette or existing canvas steps as part of a move operation, the UI will provide clear feedback regarding the drop target. When hovering over a step, the cursor will be modified as usual with the up or down green arrow indicating if the drop will be either above or below. In addition to this, the step that is the drop target will show a flashing green “bulls eye” to indicate the exact place where the step is to be placed. This is intended to head off any confusion about exactly where the designer is dropping and to make it clear that they cannot drop between a step and its precondition diamond.
Stay tuned for future articles and upcoming webinars on V8.0 – it will be released to frevvo Cloud this Fall. Exact date TBD and we’ll announce it here when firmed up.
Digital Transformation is the greatest opportunity of the next 3 years. But, to win, you need to understand the urgency, take action and seize the opportunity.
We are clearly in the midst of a [second] wave of technological advances that are markedly different from the 1990s Internet-fueled wave. The stuff of sci-fi movies is here. Computers are winning at Jeopardy, diagnosing diseases and driving cars. Billions of smartphones are in the hands of people worldwide – connected, immensely powerful computers with the capabilities of countless sci-fi films. The majority of people are connected to each other and to the collective knowledge of the world and they’re engaging with you in this digital world in new and interesting ways.
You have to be ready. This digital disruption is both a huge challenge and an enormous opportunity. Disruption is hardly new – it’s been happening for all of human history. The difference now is the speed. What used to take decades now takes years and even months.
What is Digital Transformation?
This Digital Transformation isn’t any one thing to address a specific problem but a combination of mindset, projects and initiatives designed to infuse “digital” into your entire business. It’s organizational change for the purpose of using technology to improve your business performance.
What should you do? Think about the following three things:
1. Out with the Old [so you can invest in the new]
At some point you simply cannot do more with less. You have to focus on work that matters. If you’re an organizational leader, one of the most important things you can do is create and write down a plan that clearly identifies the activities that you won’t be doing this time next year. Cut out chores that are not essential to your business, digitize them and outsource if necessary. Reinvest the cost savings into new digital initiatives.
2. Start by automating your process workflow
Technology can only do so much. Ultimately, it’s the people and business processes of an organization that truly drive change. Workflow automation is at the very foundation of digital transformation. With automation, you’ll reap incredible benefits. Our customers are seeing 50+% efficiency improvements. Their employees are happier since they can focus on work that matters – students, patients, customers.
Remember those billions of people connected to each other and to you? Automation makes it far easier for them to work with you. With automated processes, you’re agile enough to react to their needs and take advantage of business opportunities whether that’s demand-based pricing changes, customized offerings or instant world-class customer service.
If you haven’t yet invested in software for workflow automation, I suggest you do so now.
3. Data is the new Oil
Your proprietary data is your most valuable asset. If your daily workflows are manual, you don’t even have access to your most valuable asset. With automation, you can collect data, analyze and refine it into useful, actionable information so you can do things like over-deliver on customer service, and rollout new business initiatives in response to changing business conditions. It’s one of the most crucial advantages in today’s business environment.
Looking to 2020 – prepare for the voyage
The next few years will be the ride of a lifetime. Your success depends on whether your organization adopts and embraces the opportunity of digital transformation. Deploying technologies like business analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) relies on access to your proprietary data which itself depends on process automation. Your processes need to be ready.
If you want digital transformation, start with workflow.
Embrace the opportunity and get started TODAY! Visit our website and contact us to learn more.