Tech Trek Log – 2010.01.15
I’ve recently completed a workflow project for a client and I must say advances in such technology area really takes business processes management (BPM) into the next level of office automation. Below is a list of features of the 3rd party workflow product we’ve used as compared to the FREE SharePoint Designer by Microsoft.
|SharePoint (Designer)||K2 blackpoint|
|Easy to use due to simple conditional logic||Drag & drop UI but more complex wizard options|
|Sequential (linear) steps||Branching/looping structure|
|Reassign or basic routing options||Static or dynamic routing; allow redirect, delegate or escalations|
|Cannot create folders, or start another workflow||Allows to create, modify, or delete sites, lists and libraries|
|Bound to one list or library||Access within site collection; save and share templates|
|Workflow admin per list/library||Centralized admin site|
|Silo of workflow processes||Share info between processes|
Here are some of the decision points needed before such workflows are implemented:
- How will the data be collected? What UI is used (InfoPath, SharePoint list, MS Office app, other clients)?
- How should the process start (automated and/or manual)?
- How many milestones (i.e. activities or approvals) are needed?
- What type of events are needed – client (user interaction) or server (system-based)?
- What is the sequence of steps and its conditions, if any?
To summarize, the implementation team requires knowledge of InfoPath or other client used, including SharePoint concepts for integration/testing purposes regardless of workflow tool choice. The biggest challenge here in any organization is the change in development model and shift of mentality from manual procedural operations. This endeavor then is not taken lightly especially if an organization recently rolled-out SharePoint within the company.
If done correctly, this effort is revolutionary as I initially mentioned in this blog post. Why? It reduces implementation by using rapid “no code” visual-based design approach on form clients and allowing changes to business processes on-the-fly. No more excuses that it will take months to build an application since most of the heavy lifting that developers used to do is already built.
As a lesson learned in these tough economic climate — it is tempting to deploy technologies that brings the biggest bang for the buck without consideration of user acceptance. Thus, it is much wiser to take baby steps first for a succesful adoption within the development team and people using the system. Also, it is good to establish a change management rule of replacing one piece of technology at a time to make system issues more manageable before doing an “all or nothing” approach.
For additional info, I will include them in future postings, or feel free to contact me and I would be happy to share the details.