4Notifications and Approval Workflows

This chapter contains the following:

Workflow involves passing a task from one user to another, usually for approvals. You get in-app and email notifications, for example, when a workflow task is assigned to you for approval. After all assignees approve the workflow task, whatever got approved takes effect. Some tasks are just for your information (FYI), and assignees don't need to do anything. Also, you might get notifications for things that are not part of a workflow.

Where You Get Notifications

Whether for workflow or not, here are the ways you can get notifications:

Where You Find Workflow Tasks

You can open workflow tasks from notifications, or use your worklist to find all the tasks relevant to you. So other than notifications, here's where you can find your tasks:

Workflow Examples

Let's take a look at examples of how you might interact with workflow tasks:

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.

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Withdrawn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.

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 set of users. For example, a defined group of approvers or everyone who has a certain role.

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. Choose the Users option and select a specific user, not the Groups option for selecting an LDAP group.

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. Choose the Users option and select a specific user, not the Groups option for selecting an LDAP group.

Reject

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

Release

Make the task that you claimed available for someone else 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 (available only if you have a job role with either BPM Workflow All Domains Administrator Role or BPM Workflow System Admin Role assigned).

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).

Notifications alert you that something requires your attention or action. Click the Notifications icon in the global header to open your notifications list. The number on the icon tells you how many pending notifications you have, if any. Pending means that you haven't acted on the notification or dismissed it yet.

Most notifications are for workflow tasks, but not all. So it's possible that what you see in the list isn't the same as what you see assigned to you in the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area. Also, for one task you see in that work area, you might get more than one notification. For example, one notification that someone requests information from you about the task, and later another notification that the task is approved.

Here's an example of the notifications list in the global header. The Notifications icon says there are 25 pending notifications. The first three are new ones you have never seen before and require some action on your end. The third one you can approve or reject without even opening the notification. The next two are just FYI.

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

On your home page, you can also find notifications in the Things to Finish section, which looks like this.

Things to Finish section on the home page

The first card in the Things to Finish section has two numbers:

  • Assigned to Me: The number of notifications assigned to you either to act on or just FYI, in this case 10. The rest of the cards in the Things to Finish section are the notifications assigned to you, the exact same as the pending 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 2.

Here are some things to know about both the Things to Finish section and the notifications list in the global header:

  • From either place, you can open the Notifications page. That's where you can view and manage all your notifications in one place, not just the ones that are pending and assigned to you.

  • Updates you make to workflow tasks in the global header, for example approving them, are automatically reflected in the Things to Finish section. Same goes the other way around, too. But changes you make elsewhere and changes that someone else makes aren't reflected in either place until the Synchronize Notifications in Global Header process runs, for example every two hours. The scheduled process updates workflow notifications with the latest task status and removes notifications older than 30 days no matter the status. For example, you approved one task from email, and someone else in the approval group that you're part of rejected another task from their notifications list. After synchronization, the notifications asking approval for these two tasks are removed from your list in the global header and your Things to Finish section. Because these tasks are no longer pending for you, based on the latest task status.

No matter where you see the notification, 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 the notification was generated.

How You Address Your Notifications

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.

    • In the list that opens up in the global header, the New 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.

    • 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. Go on to the next step, or click one of these links to open the Notifications page:

    • Show All from the notifications list in the global header

    • A number 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 in the Things to Finish section

  3. For a notification that requires action, you have a few options:

    • Click the Approve or Reject button, where available.

    • Open the Actions menu and select an action, where available.

    • Click the notification title to see 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.

  4. For a notification that doesn't require action, you also have a few options:

    • Click the Dismiss button to acknowledge the notification. For workflow tasks, this option is available only for FYI tasks. The FYI task itself isn't marked as acknowledged, so it's still pending to be either manually or automatically completed.

    • On the Assigned to Me tab on the Notifications page, click the Dismiss All button.

      • For workflow tasks, this option is available only for tasks where action is already taken and there's no more action pending with assignees. For example, the task is approved or withdrawn. This option doesn't apply to FYI workflow tasks.

      • If you still see some notifications after you click Dismiss All, those are notifications for FYI workflow tasks, notifications that still require action, or notifications that you have to first open up to see details before dismissing.

    • Click the notification title to open the details.

    • Just read the notification title, if the title is text-only and not a link because there aren't any details to display.

  5. 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 which option you choose to address notifications that require action or not, 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.

Use Alternate Notifications UI

If your administrator has selected the panel or banner home page layout, then you get an alternate UI when you click the Notifications icon in the global header. Also, the Things to Finish section and Notifications page aren't available.

Let's take a look at the alternate notifications list. In this example, you have two pending notifications, the first one you have never seen before. You can approve or reject both notifications without even opening them.

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

Here's how you use the alternate notifications list in the global header:

  1. Click the Notifications icon in the global header.

    In the list that opens up, the New 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. Take any of these steps to get another view of notifications:

    • Click the drop-down button to switch between pending notifications and all notifications.

    • 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 have a few options:

    • Click the Approve or Reject link, where available.

    • Open the Actions menu and select an action, where available.

    • Click the notification title to see 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 goes off the pending list now that you have acted on it.

  4. For a notification that doesn't require action, you also have a few options:

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

    • Click the notification title to open the details.

    • Just read the notification title, if the title is text-only and not a link because there aren't any 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 shows up near the notification title after you click the title or Clear icon.

You can use the notifications list in the global header or the Things to Finish section on the home page to act on recent notifications for workflow tasks. To manage all your workflow tasks, use your worklist instead. For example, you can keep track of tasks that you created, or browse for tasks by status. To get to your worklist, open the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area.

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

Use the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals Work Area

Let's take a look at some parts of this work area.

Some key parts of the Worklist: Notifications and
Approvals work area
Callout Number UI Element What You Use It For

1

Current Selected View menu

To see a certain set of tasks, for example the tasks you created.

2

Actions menu

To perform an action on the tasks you select in the table.

3

Title column

To open the task details by clicking the task title.

4

Status list

To filter the tasks you see in the table based on the task status you select.

Here's how you use this work area to manage workflow tasks:

  1. Click Navigator > Tools > Worklist.

  2. To see only the tasks that you created, click the Current Selected View menu and select Initiated Tasks. Or, just leave the default My Tasks view to see tasks assigned to you now or in the past, or select any other available view.

  3. Use the Status list to see just the tasks with the status you select.

    Tip: If the table is empty when you first open the work area, try selecting Any from the Status list. You might not have any tasks with the Assigned status, which is the default for this filter.
  4. To act on a task without viewing the task details, select the row and use the Actions menu on the table toolbar. Or, click the task title to see the task details.

  5. In the task details, you might also be able to do some things that don't affect the routing or status of the task, including adding comments, adding attachments, and viewing the approval history. If you don't see sections for these things, use the equivalent options from the Actions menu in the task details.

    • Add Comments: Enter comments that anyone with access to the task can see.

    • Add Attachment: Attach files that anyone with access to the task can see.

    • View Approvals: See the approval history for the task. For example, for a task that you created, you can see who already acted on your request, whose approval you still need, and what the status is with each assignee.

      If you see both a table and a flowchart, you're looking at two views of the same history, with past assignees listed in sequential order. To add more assignees to the task:

      1. In the History table, select a future assignee who hasn't yet acted on the task.

      2. On the table toolbar, click the Add icon to insert an assignee before or after the one you selected.

      If you're the last assignee, you can't add assignees using this Add icon. So you might try instead the Ad Hoc Route or Reassign options from the Actions menu in the task details, if available.

  6. In the task details, use the buttons or Actions menu for tasks that you need to act on. Here are some possible options in the Actions menu:

    • Request Information: Select the person you want information from, and enter 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 person you selected has provided the information you asked for.

    • 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.

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

Use the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals Region

You get this region only if your administrator has added it to My Dashboard.

  1. Click Navigator > Others > My Dashboard.

  2. Use the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals region the same way you would use the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area, except here you can see only tasks with the Assigned status.

Work goes on even when you're not working! To control what happens to workflow tasks that are assigned to you while you're out of office, define a vacation rule. 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

Enable and Define the Rule

Here's what you do:

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

  2. Click Show All.

  3. On the Notifications page, click the Worklist button.

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

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

  6. On the Vacation Period page, select the Enable vacation period check box, and enter the start and end date for your time out of office.

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

  8. Save your work.

FAQs for Notifications and Approvals

The notifications list in the global header and the Things to Finish section on the home page doesn't immediately reflect changes to the workflow task status if you took action elsewhere. For example, if you approved the task through email or the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area. You still see the notification in the global header and, home page until after the next scheduled run of the Synchronize Notifications in Global Header process. The same goes for the Notifications page that you can open from the notifications list in the global header or from the Things to Finish section.

Let's say you get an email notification but don't see it in the notifications list in the global header and the Things to Finish section on the home page. Most likely your administrator has enabled only email notifications, not in-app notifications. In which case, you can still find the corresponding workflow task in the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area.

Or, say you don't get a notification in email, the global header, and home page, but can see the task in the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area. It's possible your administrator disabled all workflow notifications. Or, if the user ID you use to sign in with has a space in it, that would cause issues with sending notifications. Ask your security administrator to update your user account and remove any spaces in your user ID.

It's also possible that you did see the notification in the global header, the home page, or Notifications page, but you can't find it there anymore even though you didn't address it yet. And, you might still see the task in the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area. Most likely that means your notification is older than 30 days and was removed. Or, maybe the notification is for a task that's assigned to an approval group that you're part of, and someone else acted on the task so it's no longer pending for you.

Submit the Synchronize Notifications in Global Header process to run on a schedule, for example every two hours. The process removes notifications older than 30 days from the notifications list in the global header, the Things to Finish section on the home page, and the Notifications page that you can open from either of the first two places. At any time, you can also manually remove notifications older than 30 days. Just click Notifications in the global header and run a search.

If a notification is for a workflow task, it's still removed no matter what the task status is. You may still be able to find the task in the Worklist: Approvals and Notifications work area.

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.

Here are some of the things you can do:

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

  • Download and review diagnostic logs for transactions with errors. For example, you can see the conditions in the approval rules that might have caused the error.

  • 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, make sure you're on 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 Refresh icon if needed. You can refresh any time as long as someone else didn't already start a refresh.

    • Also, the Refresh Transaction Administrator Console Transaction Status scheduled process automatically runs every hour to refresh the statuses. If you find that's not enough, you can submit the process to run on a more frequent schedule. Your process would run instead of the automatic hourly one.

    • 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. View the transactions with a status that matches the default Status filter, for example Failed. You can remove this filter to get results for all statuses. Or, use the search 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. Select and 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 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 to manage the transaction.

    • 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.

Download 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.