4Notifications and Approvals

This chapter contains the following:

Overview of Workflow Tasks

Workflow is an automated process that sequentially passes a task from one user (or group of users) to another. After all assignees address the task, for example by approving it, an end result is achieved. Some tasks are for your information (FYI) only and require no action from any assignee.

Access to Tasks

When a task is assigned to you, you get a notification in the application and in your email. Your worklist has all the tasks relevant to you. To access workflow tasks, you can use the:

Examples

Examples of interaction with workflow tasks include:

The status, or state, of a workflow task tells you where it's at in the approval process. When you're assigned to a task, what you can do with it depends on many factors, including what the task is and its current state.

Actions

This table describes some possible actions you can take on workflow tasks.

Action Description

Ad Hoc Route

Add approvers to the task.

Approve

Approve the task, and the task completes or moves on to the next approver.

Claim

Assign the task to yourself so that you can act on it, if the task is currently assigned to a group.

Create Subtask

Create a child task to be completed as part of the original task.

Delegate

Pass the task to someone else to take action for you, but the task is still assigned to you.

Dismiss

Close the task and acknowledge that you received it. You don't need to take action because the notification is only for your information.

Escalate

Reassign the task to your direct manager.

Push Back

Reassign the task to the previous approver.

Reassign

Reassign the task to someone you select.

Reject

Reject the task and send it back to its creator in a final state.

Release

Make the task available for other approvers in the group to claim.

Renew

Give yourself more time (seven days is the default) to act on the task, if the task is about to expire.

Request Information

Ask the task creator or any of the previous approvers for more information.

Resume

Revive a suspended task and continue working on it.

Skip Current Assignment

Reassign the task to the next approver.

Submit Information

Send the information that was requested of you regarding the task.

Suspend

Put the task on hold until it's resumed. In the meantime, no one is assigned to act on it.

Withdraw

Remove the task from the workflow (available only if you created the task).

Statuses

This table describes some possible statuses, or states, for workflow tasks.

State Description

Assigned

Task is assigned to you and awaiting your action.

Completed

Final user in the workflow has addressed the task.

Errored

Task is in error and can't be recovered.

Expired

Current assignee hasn't addressed the task within any defined renewal period.

Information Requested

Assignee requests more information from any user.

Suspended

Task is put on hold by the task creator and not assigned to anyone to address.

Withdrawn

Task creator removes task from the workflow.

View and Act On Notifications

Use the Notifications icon in the global header to open your notifications list. Notifications alert you that something requires your attention or action. The icon itself displays the number of pending notifications you have, if any. Pending means that you haven't yet acted on the notification nor marked it as read. Most notifications are for workflow tasks.

The following figure shows the notifications list in the global header. In this example, the Notifications icon indicates that there are 27 pending notifications, one of which is a new notification and just FYI. The other notification in the figure requires action, and you can approve or reject even without opening the notification.

Notifications list in the global header opened
by clicking the Notifications icon

The language of the notification title might not be the same as the language that you selected when you signed in to the application. The title is always displayed in the language that was used when something generated the notification.

Addressing Notifications

To view and act on notifications:

  1. Click the Notifications icon in the global header.

    In the list that opens up, the Unread icon (a blue dot) identifies any new notifications. Even if you close the list now without doing anything else, the same notifications are no longer new the next time you open the list.

  2. Click the drop-down button next to the window title to switch between pending notifications and all notifications. You can also:

    • Search the notification titles.

    • Click the More Details button to view and manage workflow tasks in your worklist.

  3. For a notification requiring action, you can click the:

    • Approve or Reject link, where available.

    • Actions menu and select an action, where available.

    • Notification title to open the details and select from all possible actions you can take. For workflow tasks, you get the same task details that you do from your worklist, using the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area or region.

    The notification is considered acted upon and taken off the pending list.

  4. For a notification that doesn't require action, you can:

    • Click the Clear icon that appears when you hover over the notification, to dismiss the notification.

    • Click the notification title to open the details.

    • Do nothing except read the notification title, if the title is just text and not a link because there are no details to display.

    In all cases, the notification is considered read and taken off the pending list. To keep a notification as pending, you can click the Undo link that temporarily appears next to the notification title after you click the title or Clear icon.

Using Alternate or Additional Notifications UI

If your administrator has selected news feed as the default home page layout, then you get alternate UI when you click the Notifications icon in the global header.

The following figure shows the alternate notifications list. In this example, you can approve or reject the new notification even without opening it. For the other notification, you can use the Actions button to act on the task.

Notifications list in the global header opened
by clicking the Notifications icon, in alternate UI that comes only
with the news feed home page layout selected as default

With news feed selected, the Things to Finish section on the home page, as shown in the following figure, and the Notifications page are also available.

Things to Finish section on the home page that's
available only with the news feed home page layout selected as default

The first card in the Things to Finish section specifies:

  • Assigned to Me: The number of open notifications, in this case 34, assigned to you either to act on or just as FYI. The rest of the cards in the Things to Finish section are the notifications assigned to you. These are the same notifications you see in the global header.

  • Created by Me: The number of workflow tasks you submitted that are still pending final approval, in this case 15.

To view and act on notifications in the Things to Finish section, the global header, or the Notifications page:

  1. Click the Notifications icon in the global header, or go to the Things to Finish section on the home page.

    To view and manage all your notifications on the Notifications page, you can click the:

    • Show All link from the notifications list in the global header

    • Numbers on the first Things to Finish card to open the corresponding tab on the Notifications page, Assigned to Me or Created by Me

    • Show More link in the Things to Finish section

    Tip: In the Things to Finish section, you can click the Close icon just to remove the card. The notification is still assigned to you, so you can still find it, for example, in the global header or the Assigned to Me tab on the Notifications page.
  2. For a notification that requires action, you can click the:

    • Approve or Reject button, where available.

    • Actions menu and select an action, where available.

    • Notification title to open the details and select from all possible actions you can take. For workflow tasks, you get the same task details that you do from your worklist, using the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area or region.

  3. For a notification that doesn't require action, you can:

    • Click the Dismiss button or, on the Assigned to Me tab on the Notifications page, the Dismiss All button.

    • Click the notification title to open the details.

    • Do nothing except read the notification title, if the title is just text and not a link because there are no details to display.

  4. On the Created by Me tab on the Notifications page, you can see the workflow tasks you submitted that are pending final approval or already completed. Where available, you can take action on the pending items, for example to withdraw your request.

No matter what you do for steps 2 or 3, the notification is taken off the list in the global header and is no longer assigned to you in the Things to Finish section or the Notifications page. You can still find the notification on the All tab on the Notifications page.

While you can use the notifications list in the global header to address recent notifications for workflow tasks, you can also use the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area for comprehensive access to all of your workflow tasks. For example, you can keep track of tasks that you created, or browse for tasks by status.

You can also access your worklist on My Dashboard, if your administrator has added the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals region to that dashboard. You get a quick view of all the tasks that are currently assigned to you.

Using the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals Work Area

Follow these steps:

  1. Click Navigator > Worklist.

  2. To see only the tasks that you created, click the Current Selected View menu and select Initiated Tasks. Otherwise, leave the default My Tasks view, or select any other available views.

  3. Use the Status drop-down list to indicate what tasks to see.

  4. Click the task title to view the task details.

    Tip: To act on a task without viewing the task details, you can select the row and use the Actions menu in the table toolbar.
  5. For tasks requiring your action, use the buttons or Actions menu on the task details page. Possible options in the Actions menu include:

    • Request Information: Select the person you want information from, and specify what you're asking for in the Comments field. Indicate if the task should come directly back to you or go through the usual workflow process, after the assignee has provided the requested information.

    • Reassign: Select whom to pass the task on to. Indicate if you're reassigning the task or just delegating it for someone to act on your behalf.

  6. In the task details, you might also be able to:

    • Click the Create icon in the Comments section to add your own comment about the task.

    • Click the Add icon in the Attachments section to attach a file to the task.

    • View the approval history in the History section. For example, for a task that you created, you can see who already acted on your request and whose approval you still need. The table and graph present two views of the same history, listing past assignees in sequential order and indicating the status of each assignment. Hover over the boxes in the graph to see more information.

  7. For additional things you can do with your worklist, click View from the table toolbar in the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area. Select Servers and click the Worklist link

Using the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals Region

Follow these steps:

  1. Click Navigator > My Dashboard.

  2. The Worklist: Notifications and Approvals region displays all tasks assigned to you. Ask your administrator to add the region if you don't see it on the dashboard.

  3. See steps 4 through 6 for using the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area.

Define a vacation rule to determine what happens to workflow tasks that are assigned to you while you're out of office. You can reassign your tasks to others, or delegate it to them to act on your behalf.

Vacation Period page on the My Rules tab for defining
a vacation rule for workflow

Enabling and Defining the Rule

Follow these steps:

  1. In the global header, click the Notifications icon.

  2. Click More Details.

  3. In the new browser window, click your user name and select Preferences.

  4. In the My Rules tab, select the Vacation Period rule if it isn't already displayed.

  5. On the Vacation Period page, select the Enable vacation period check box, and enter the start and end date for your vacation.

  6. Select to reassign or delegate your tasks, and provide an assignee.

  7. Save your work.

FAQs for Notifications and Approvals

Why are workflow notifications that I acted on still pending in the global header?

The notifications in the global header don't immediately reflect changes to the workflow task status if you took action elsewhere, for example through email or the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area. Such notifications will move from the Pending Notifications list to the All Notifications list after the next scheduled run of the Synchronize Notifications in Global Header process.

How do I remove notifications from the list in the global header?

Old notifications aren't automatically removed. You must click Notifications in the global header and run a search. Notifications older than 30 days are then removed from the list of all notifications. If a removed notification is for a workflow task, then you can still find the task in the Worklist: Approvals and Notifications work area (click Navigator > Worklist).

Monitor and Troubleshoot Transactions

Manage Workflow Transactions

After workflow tasks are created, it's helpful to keep track of them and jump in when you need to, especially when something goes wrong. If you have the appropriate roles, you can monitor and troubleshoot workflow tasks for others and for yourself. Use the Transaction Manager: Transactions page in the Transaction Console work area to manage transactions. A transaction is a business process that involves a workflow task.

  • Track transaction statuses and get spreadsheets with information about transactions.

  • Download and review diagnostic logs for transactions with errors.

  • Depending on what's going on with the transaction and what roles you have, you might be able to, for example, reassign or recover the transaction.

Find Transactions

Follow these steps:

  1. Click Navigator > Tools > Transaction Console.

  2. If you see tabs, click the Transaction Summary tab.

  3. On the Transaction Manager: Transactions page, check the Last Refresh time stamp after the page title to see when the transaction statuses were last updated. Click the Last Refresh icon if needed. You can refresh any time as long as someone else didn't already start a refresh.

    • You can also set the Refresh Transaction Administrator Console Transaction Status scheduled process to run on a schedule, to automatically refresh the statuses on a regular basis. Start by setting it to run once every hour, and then see how it goes and adjust from there.

    • If you open the details for a specific transaction (step 5), its status also refreshes and you see the latest on the details page.

  4. The page shows transactions with a default Status filter applied, for example Failed. You can remove this filter to get results for all statuses. Or, use the searches and filters to apply your own criteria, for example, to find transactions that are priority 1 or submitted by a specific person.

    • You can use the search to find results based on keywords in the Name or Process Name column, or specifically use the Name or Process Name filters. Name is the person or object the workflow task applies to, and the process reflects the type of workflow task.

    • You can personalize filters to add or hide filters, and create saved searches for future use.

  5. Act on the transactions right there from the results table, or click the transaction in the Name column to see details, such as diagnostic information for failed transactions, and go from there.

Act on Transactions Without Opening Details

Here's what you do:

  1. Select one or more transactions from the results table.

  2. Optionally use the Priority menu to set an issue priority, so that you can later filter on the priority to find these transactions.

  3. Open the Actions menu and select an action. If you selected more than one transaction, you see only the actions that can apply to all of them.

Use Transaction Details

What you can see and do in the transaction details depends on the transaction status and what roles you have. For example, for transactions that are in progress or completed, you might see the approval history, which shows who already approved and who the current assignee is, if any.

For failed transactions, you can get information about the issues and, if you're an administrator, usually take some sort of action:

  1. Select an issue from the Issues list, if the transaction has more than one issue.

  2. Review the information in the Instructions and Details sections, including any description and resolution for the issue, as well as the related workflow task and approval rule.

  3. Click the Download link to get the diagnostic log.

  4. Use the Issue Priority list to set an issue priority, if you want to later filter on the priority to find this transaction.

  5. From the Assigned To list, select the person who should fix the issue, for tracking and filtering purposes.

  6. Add comments, for example to track what you're doing to address the issue, or note down any service request IDs. You and others can see these comments only in the Transaction Console, not with the workflow task in the worklist.

  7. If you can, take action to address the issue. Here are some examples of how you might go about it:

    • Open the Actions menu and select an action.

    • Follow up with the person you assigned the issue to or your help desk. Give them the diagnostic log and other information from the transaction details.

    • Reconfigure the approval rule that the transaction is based on, and have the workflow task resubmitted.

  8. Select another issue from the Issues list, if any, and go through the same process.

  9. Click Save and Close.

Get a Spreadsheet of Transactions

This is all you need to do:

  1. In the results table, select the transactions you want to include in the spreadsheet. To get all transactions, either select all of them or none at all.

  2. On the Actions menu, click Download.

Statuses for Filtering Transactions

Use the Transaction Manager: Transactions page in the Transaction Console work area to track the status of transactions. For example, you can filter the transactions by status to see just the transactions that are in progress or stuck. These statuses aren't the actual workflow task statuses that you see in the worklist or in notifications.

Status Description

Auto Recovery

The transaction ran into some issues, but the application is trying to fix them without any action on your end.

Completed

All approvals are done and the transaction successfully went through all processes.

Draft

The transaction is saved but not submitted yet. This status doesn't apply to all product families.

Failed

The transaction has one or more errors, for example, due to a network or database outage, or an issue in the approval rules setup.

In Progress

At least one approval is still pending for the transaction before it's all done.

Stuck

The transaction was submitted, but ran into issues so the workflow task doesn't exist yet.

Submitted

The transaction was just created and hasn't moved on yet to another status. This status doesn't apply to all product families.

Actions for Managing Transactions

Use the Transaction Manager: Transactions page in the Transaction Console work area to manage and troubleshoot transactions. For example, you can withdraw a transaction even if you're not the one who submitted it. What you can do depends on the transaction status and the roles you have. Some actions, such as approve and reassign, are the same as the ones you can take on the workflow tasks from the worklist or from notifications.

Action Description

Add Comment

Add your notes for the transaction, for example to track what you're doing to address the issue, or to jot down any service request IDs. You and others can see these comments only in the Transaction Console.

Alert Initiator on Error

Notify the submitter if the transaction ends up in error.

Approve

Approve the transaction if the workflow task is currently assigned to you to approve or reject.

Download

Get a spreadsheet with information about the selected transactions.

Reassign

Reassign the workflow task to an approver, the submitter, or someone else.

Recover

Restart the process after the transaction stopped due to errors. After you address the issue, use this action to get the application to pick up where the process last left off and retry whatever had ended up in error.

Reject

Reject the transaction if the workflow task is currently assigned to you to approve or reject.

Terminate Process

Completely end the transaction so that no one can see or act on the workflow task again.

Withdraw

Remove the workflow task from the workflow. You can ask the submitter to submit again, for example, after an issue is resolved.

How You Can Regularly Reassign Pending Approvals for Workers That Become Inactive

A manager assignment can become inactive due to the end of an assignment or work term, termination, or global transfer. If the manager has any pending approval notifications, you must reassign them.

Run this process: Run Reassign Pending Approvals for Terminations and Correct Invalid Supervisor Assignments Process in the Scheduled Processes work area. You can set a schedule to run it at least once a day. You can run it more frequently if you want things updated faster.

Here's what the process does:

  • It reassigns the direct reports of a terminated manager to that person's line manager and also assigns any pending notifications to the line manager. Only actionable notifications will be reassigned.

  • It reassigns pending approval notifications based on the number of days you specify using the Past Period in Days Considered for Reassigning Pending Approvals parameter.