14Workflow and Approval Management

This chapter contains the following:

Overview of Workflow and Approval Management

The BPM Worklist enables you to configure new item requests, change orders, and change requests through a set of workflows. The following steps summarize the configuration:

  • Sign in with the supply chain administrator role.

  • To access the BPM Worklist, run the Manage Task Configurations for Supply Chain Management task in the Product Management offering.

  • Update the workflow tasks by including details of deadlines and escalation policy.

  • Select the notification type and provide additional details to configure the notification.

  • Create approval groups that include a predefined set of users configured to act on the notification.

  • Create approval rules that include conditions for approval.

Type of Approval

When configuring the workflow, you select the type of approval: user defined, rules-based, or web service based.

User defined approval lets you add users or user groups as approvers, without specifying any conditions.

Rules-based approval lets you create complex rules for managing the workflow. You use the BPM Worklist to create complex approval rules based on item, attributes, or attribute groups. For example:

If NewItemLine.Item.itemtype == "Finished Goods" And NewItemLine.Item.CurrentPhaseCode == "Design" THEN Approval Group = "SCM_Managers"

Web service based approval lets you define the list of change order approvers through a web service call.

Example of a Change Order Workflow

Consider that manufacturing changes require review and approval before pricing changes are determined. You can create a change order workflow with multiple open and interim approval statuses and a final approval. Use the first set of open and interim approval workflows to review and approve the manufacturing changes. Use the second set to review and approve the pricing changes. You can then route the workflow for final approval.

Best Practices for Managing the Workflow

When you create the workflow in a change order or new item request, consider the following:

In the change order type

  • Use the Assigned to field to set a default assignee. The default assignee receives a notification when the change order is created.

  • Don't assign the same user as required approver and optional approver.

  • If you select Allow Updates for interim approval, you can only update header attributes during interim approval.

In the change order

  • To detect any errors, use the audit feature during the early stages of the workflow.

In the new item request

  • Don't enable the root item class for a new item request. Instead, enable it only for that child class which requires the new item request.

  • Don't assign the same user as required approver and optional approver.

  • Descriptive flexfields aren't supported at the line level.

In the BPM Worklist

  • Create workflow steps that are aligned as per your business processes.

  • Before you define the entry and exit criteria, review whether a standard workflow already exists.

  • When you create an approval group, don't include any space in the group name.

  • Use only the header stage.

  • Enable notifications based on task status.

  • If you set a vacation rule and if you have multiple approvers, the value of Response Required From must be set to All.

  • In the Assignee tab, don't change any settings.

  • In the Deadlines tab, don't enable Expiration Settings.

Set Up the BPM Workflow

Here is how you set up the new item request workflow. From the Setup and Maintenance work area, run the following tasks in the Product Management offering:

  1. Run the Manage New Item Request Type task. Depending on the status type, you can do the following:

    • Enable or disable the request comment notification.

    • Setup automatic promotion or automatic demotion between statuses.

    • Select the entry and exit criteria for a status.

  2. Run the Manage Item Rule Set task to create validation rules for the new item request.

  3. Run the Manage Item Classes task to enable the new item request for an item class. In item management, include the definition workflow details such as steps, assignees, business or associated entities, and definition values.

  4. Run the Manage Approval Group task to create an approval group responsible for the new item request approval.

  5. Run the Manage Task Configurations for Supply Chain Management task. Select the participant header stage and create a business rule.

Here is how you set up the change order workflow. From the Setup and Maintenance work area, run the following tasks in the Product Management offering:

  1. Run the Manage Change Order Type task. Depending on the status type, you can do the following:

    • Enable or disable the request comment notification.

    • Setup automatic promotion or automatic demotion between statuses.

    • Select the entry and exit criteria for a status.

  2. Run the Manage Item Rule Set task to create validation rules for the change order.

  3. Run the Manage Approval Group task to create an approval group responsible for the change order approval.

  4. Run the Manage Task Configurations for Supply Chain Management task. Select the participant header stage and create a business rule.

Configure the New Item Request and Change Order Workflow

In a new item request the entire workflow is seeded. It contains the following statuses: Open > Definition > Approval > Scheduled > Completed.

Types of change orders: engineering change order, change order without revision control, and commercialization change order. You create a change order by copying one of the change order types.

Here is the seeded workflow in engineering change order and change order without revision control: Open >Approval > Scheduled > Completed.

In the engineering change order, an approval is required and the revision value is incremented.

In a commercialization change order, the value of revision can be configured by the user. Here is the seeded workflow in the commercialization change order: Open > Scheduled > Completed.

You can't change the sequence of the seeded status. However, some of the statuses can be configured.

When a change order type is created, the workflow is defaulted to the following statuses: Open > Scheduled > Completed.

For the purpose of auditing a new item request and commercialization change order, you can create a workflow without an approval. If an approval is required in the change order, you can add an interim approval and an approval status. After the approval, the change order is automatically promoted to Scheduled. When the effective date is reached it's automatically promoted to Completed. Note that an engineering change order and change order without revision control require an approval.

Open

When the new item request or change order is submitted to the Open status, a seeded request comment notification is sent. This informs the requester of the submission. Automatic promotion status can be set up for the open status as well as exit criteria. Because the Open status is editable, the Allow Update check box is automatically selected.

Definition

Definition workflow is only available for new item requests. In the new item request type, you can configure automatic promotion and automatic demotion rules as well as entry and exit criteria. Definition workflow is defined for an item class; each item class can have its unique set of definition steps and assignees. Additional configuration must be completed using the Manage Item Classes task, in which tasks are defined per assignee or role. You can add multiple rows of the same step sequence number with different tasks for a parallel flow.

The figure shows the definition workflow being configured in an item class by using the Manage Item Classes task.

Definition workflow configured as part of the Manage
Item Classes task.

If a parallel definition workflow is configured with multiple rows having the same step number, users are notified (in parallel) according to the Response Required configuration. For the workflow to proceed, users defined for each row with the same step sequence number must complete their tasks. For example, if you set Response Required From as One and Assignee Type as Role, only one user with that role needs to complete the task. If you set it as All, all users with that role must complete the task.

If certain attributes require a value to be entered on item definition, you can select these attributes as required definition values.

Interim Approval and Approval

Interim approval can be used to progressively approve the item changes. There can be only one approval status in change order workflow. For example,

Open > Interim Approval > Open > Interim Approval > Approval > Scheduled > Completed

Interim approval is available only for change orders. To streamline the approval process, some of the configuration can be performed for a change order type.

Following features are available for both interim approval and approval:

  • Automatic promotion and demotion.

  • Entry and exit criteria.

You can allow updates only for interim approval. This enables you to update only the header attribute values to fulfill the entry and exit criteria. However item attributes can't be updated during the interim approval even if the Allow Updates check box is selected (in the change order).

Note: Allowing updates affects the entry and exit criteria.

The figure shows approval configuration in a change order type. It's configured using the Manage Change Order Type task.

Approval configuration in a change order type

Header Stage Approval Configuration

Header stage assignment method can be rules based or user defined. You can set the Response Required From value to All or One. If it's set to All:

  • Rejection from a single user rejects the item changes.

  • Approval is required from all the approvers.

Note: Header stage approval can't be disabled for new item requests and change orders.

Optional Approval Configuration

You can add optional approvers to the approval workflow. An optional approver is a person who interrupts the workflow only if a rejection is required. An approval from the optional approver isn't considered as the final approval of the change order or new item request. However, a rejection immediately ends the approval workflow. If a header approver approves the workflow, then the approval task of the optional approver is automatically withdrawn. Note that the Response Required From option isn't enabled for optional approval. The optional approval stage can be disabled. Notification for optional approval is sent as soon as the approval workflow begins.

Configure Approval Tasks Using BPM Worklist

As an administrator, you can review and modify the approval tasks defined by a workflow designer.

To configure approval tasks in change orders and new item requests:

  1. In the Setup and Maintenance work area go to the following:

    • Offering: Product Management

    • Functional Area: Change Orders

    • Task: Manage Task Configurations for Supply Chain Management

  2. Select the approval task.

    For example, to modify the approval tasks for a change order, select ChangeOrderApprovalTask.

    To modify the approval tasks for a new item request, select NewItemRequestApprovalTask.

  3. Click the Edit Task icon in the side panel.

Here are the configuration options that appear on the side tabs of the Configuration page:

  • General: Define basic information such as title, description, and priority. Selecting Hide task creator prevents the display of task creator's name in the approval notification.

  • Assignees: Create an approval rule. In Change Order Header Rule Based Approver, click the dot icon and select Go to rule. For example, to control the approval of all change orders created by a user, you can route them to a particular approval group.

  • Data: Review the message elements that compose the structure of the task payload. Don't edit this information.

  • Deadlines: Specify the duration and expiration details.

    • Due Date: Indicates the date when the approval task is due for action. It is an indicator to remind the approver to respond by a certain time. The approver can also respond after the due date.

    • Exclude Saturday and Sunday: Excludes Saturday and Sunday while computing the due date, expiration date, and escalation date.

    • Expiration Settings: Specify the expiration policy at either task or assignee level, or skip it entirely. Includes the following:

      • Escalate: For example, if you use the escalation hierarchy configured in the user directory, the task can first be escalated to the user's manager. If the user's manager doesn't take appropriate action within the specified duration, then the task is further escalated till it reaches the maximum escalation level or the highest approver. An escalated task remains in the user's inbox even after the task has expired. However the user isn't allowed to take any action on that task.

  • Access: Configure the signature (or password ) policy for the task.

    When the change order reaches the Approval status, users are prompted to enter their login credentials.

  • Configuration: Configure whether users must enter comments when they approve or reject a task.

    • Required: Comments become mandatory for the user.

    • Optional: Comments become optional for the user.

    • Not Allowed: Comments aren't allowed for the user.

Configure the Signature Policy for Change Order Approval

To authenticate users during the change order approval, you can configure a signature policy. This ensures that approvers are prompted to enter their login user name and password before they approve the change order. The login credentials are also used to audit the approval process.

  1. In the Setup and Maintenance work area go to the following:

    • Offering: Product Management

    • Functional Area: Change Orders

    • Task: Manage Task Configurations for Supply Chain Management

  2. Select ChangeOrderApprovalTask.

  3. Click the Edit task icon.

  4. Click Access.

  5. In Actions, select the signature policy applicable during change order approval.

    • No Signature Required. This is the default value.

    • Password Required: Users are prompted to enter their login user name and password.

    • Digital Certificate Required: Users are prompted to use a digital certificate (or e-signature).

    Note: If the change order is already in the Approval status when the signature policy is enabled, the user doesn't receive the authentication prompt. If the change order is in the Open status and the password policy is enabled, the user receives the authentication prompt when the change order reaches the Approval status.
  6. Click Commit in the side panel.

Configuration Options in BPM Worklist

Some of the key configuration options in BPM Worklist are:

  • Skip creator for Approval List: Prevents creators from approving their own task. You can also select Assign to Creator's Manager to route the task to the manager.

    Note: If the routing is user-defined, you cannot skip creators for task approval.
  • Mandate Comments before updating these outcomes: Enforces reviewers to provide comments before approving or rejecting a task; can be useful for auditing.

  • Notify these participants when error occurs: Allows certain administrators to receive notifications (in case of errors). If the task is approved by an assignee and the approval notification is again sent to the assignee, then a second approval is optional.

  • Enable Auto Claim: Must select for proper functioning of the Approve and Reject options in a change order.

Note: It is recommended to retain the default settings.

Overview of BPM Workflow Notifications

As the change order or new item request progresses through the workflow, several notifications are sent out. Notifications inform participants about the occurrence of different events and enable them take actions. These notifications are seeded and can't be changed.

Individual notifications are sent for each row in the definition workflow steps.

If an assignee is present for multiple associations across items for a single step, then:

  • The assignee receives notification for each task.

  • Each task can be delegated as required.

  • After the step sequence is completed, notification for the next step is sent.

If the new item request or change order fails in a scheduled state, a consolidated notification is sent for all the failed lines.

The following notifications are sent: a detailed notification, and a task entry worklist table. The detailed notification displays the basic header attributes and assigned items. In an approval notification, an approver can enter comments and add attachments. The task entry notification is a one line entry in the worklist table of the item work area; you can't open it in a separate window.

Configure Workflow Notifications

The approval notification informs the respective approver to review the business transaction and take action. Notifications can be sent through email, or application bell notification.

Notification Mode

  • All: Both email and bell notifications

  • None: Neither email nor bell notifications

  • Email: Only email and no bell notifications

Notifications indicate that a user or group is assigned with a task, or the task status has changed. Notifications are sent to different types of participants for different actions.

Managing email notifications includes the following:

  • Enable the notification: Click the plus icon to add new notification entry, choose the task status, and notification recipient.

  • Disable the notification: Select the appropriate action and click delete to disable the notification.

Users can also allow actions on notifications and enable attachments to be sent with notifications. Allowing actions enables recipients to approve or reject an object. If an attachment is present, users can send the attachment through email for review.

Notification Header

Users can add the company logo or company name in the notification header. The default value of notification headers is null.

Any new notification added by the user includes the following header value:

 "concat(string('Task '), /task:task/task:title, string(' requires your attention.')"

It is recommended to change the header value to null.

To change the company logo, include your company URL and provide a proper alternative text.

For example, img src="http://b-i.forbesimg.com/joshbersin/files/2013/07/company-logo3.jpg" width="230" height="69" alt='Company Logo'

Bell Notification Sync-up

The Synchronize Bell Notifications ESS job is used to sync the Bell Notification dialog box with online BPM notifications. All the completed notifications are removed from Bell Notifications.

The FND_MANAGE_SCHEDULED_JOB_DEFINITION_PRIV privilege, is required to schedule or execute the Synchronize Bell Notifications ESS job.

Managing Bell Notifications

Enable/Disable Bell Notification: Uses the settings configured for email notifications. If the email notification is disabled for specific action, the user does not receive bell or email notification.

Enable Reminder: Send task reminders based on the time when the task was assigned to a user or the time of task expiration. The number of reminders and the interval between the reminders can also be configured.

More Options: The application provides additional options to configure email notification.

  • Make notification secure (exclude details): Prevents any business transaction details from appearing in email notifications.

  • Do not send multiple notifications for the same task.

  • Hide End User Web URL in notifications: Removes the link that provides access to the task in Workspace Application instead of the underlying transaction.

  • Make notification actionable: Controls the following links in notification email: Approve, Reject, and Request More Information.

  • Send task attachments with email notifications: Allows supporting documents to be attached to email notification.

Configurable Email Notifications

Overview of Configurable Email Notifications in SCM

As part of workflow tasks and based on the notification mode in BPM Worklist, the application automatically sends notifications to your users. For example, when someone submits a new item request for approval, the approver receives an email notification with approval request. In the new item request workflow, you can use Oracle Business Intelligence (BI) Publisher to configure the content, layout, and style of the notifications.

The table shows the Supply Chain Management product that uses configurable email notifications, along with their associated features, and workflow task names.

Product Feature Name Report or Notification Name Workflow Task Name

Product Hub

New Item Request

New Item Request Approval

NewItemRequestApprovalTask

Note: When you receive a workflow email notification, you can alternatively find the same notification by opening the Worklist: Notifications and Approvals work area or bell notification.

Process Overview

The process to generate email notifications is the same as generating other types of report output. The process involves various types of objects in the business intelligence catalog, including data models, subtemplates, style templates, and reports.

This figure shows how these objects work together to generate the output used for email notifications.

BI Publisher objects, including data model, subtemplate,
style template, layout template, and report, working together to generate
output for email notifications
  • Data Sources: Store the attributes and attribute values for business objects and transactions in the application (example of data sources being transaction tables)

  • Data Model: Determines which attributes from data sources are available to be included in the email and how that data is retrieved

  • Subtemplate: Provides common components, for example a branding logo and buttons, that can be reused in multiple reports

  • Style Template: Provides styles such as the type of lines and fonts to use in tables, or the font type, size, and color to use for headings

  • Report: Contains a layout template that determines:

    • Which attributes appear in the email, from the data model used for the report

    • What the email looks like, leveraging components from the subtemplate and styles from the style template used for the report

  • HTML: Is the output generated from the report

  • Email: Is sent to users as part of a business flow, with the HTML output embedded in the email body

Each workflow task with configurable email notifications has a corresponding predefined report in the BI catalog.

Email Modifications

After you enable configurable email notifications, the predefined reports and related objects in the BI catalog work by default. The report-based notifications provide the same information as the standard notifications, but in a format optimized for mobile devices. If you need to modify the emails, you can edit copies of the predefined reports, data models, and subtemplate (but not the style template).

Security

To configure reports and data models for email notifications, you must have the Application Developer and the BI Administrator job role.

Setup

You must download and install the Template Builder for Word add-in.

For configurable email notifications, make sure that the email domain setup is correct in BI Publisher so that the emails get sent.

Best Practices for Layouts in Workflow Notifications

Predefined workflow email notifications based on report layout templates all follow a general format. When you edit a copy of these layout templates in Microsoft Word, follow the predefined layout as closely as possible for consistency. Also keep in mind shared components and mobile considerations.

General Structure

In general, the email notifications contain the components shown in the following figure and table.

The callouts in this figure identify the different email components listed in the following table.

Example of a workflow email notification with callouts
to identify the various components
Callout Component

1

Notification header listing key attributes of the workflow task and the associated transaction.

2

Buttons for the primary actions to take on the task, such as Approve and Reject.

3

Notification body that usually includes transaction and line level details, displayed in tables or sets of attributes with corresponding values. The data model for the report restricts the total number of rows displayed in some of the tables. If the limit is exceeded, the table footer provides a link to the transaction details page, where users can view all the rows. To change this limit, you can edit a copy of the data model.

4

Approval history, including any attachments that users in the history uploaded for the task. You can't edit the approval history component.

5

Buttons for the primary actions again.

6

A link to the corresponding transaction page, and another link to the in-app notification.

When you modify email notifications, try to keep to this general structure and don't remove essential elements such as the action buttons. Likewise, don't change the styles in your layout template. The predefined style template should still apply to your email notification; don't edit a copy of the style template and apply that to your email.

To add components to your notification, for example another table, consider first downloading another style template from My Oracle Support. This template contains Quick Parts content that you can use in Word when you do more advanced work on layout templates. For example, from the Quick Parts gallery, you can select and add the table that is consistent in format with predefined tables already on your notification.

Shared Components

A predefined subtemplate in the business intelligence (BI) catalog applies to all predefined layout templates for email notifications. The subtemplate contains components that are shared among the notifications, for example:

  • Branding logo, if you add one to the subtemplate, which would appear as the first component in the email body

  • Action buttons

  • Links at the end of the notification, one to the corresponding transaction page, and another to the in-app notification

When you make a copy of a predefined layout template to edit, the copy automatically inherits the same predefined subtemplate. To edit these shared components, make a copy of the predefined subtemplate, edit the copied version, and apply it to your own layout templates.

Mobile Considerations

Because users can view the workflow notifications on mobile devices, always consider mobile first and keep the notifications as simple as possible. For example:

  • Don't put too much content horizontally, such as too many columns in tables.

  • Keep all text, including attributes and column headings, as short as possible.

  • Center align lists of attributes and their values, if they appear outside tables.

Make sure to test your email notifications on mobile devices.

Modify New Item Request Email Notification Template

Before modifying workflow email notifications, it's recommended that you familiarize yourself with BI Publisher. This will improve your ability to change your notifications by formatting emails to meet your business requirements. Also review the My Oracle Support (MOS) topic, Configurable Email Notifications: Implementation Considerations (Doc ID 2215570.1).

With BI Publisher-based email notifications you:

  • Use only the Template Builder for Word add-in to edit the .rtf template in Microsoft Word, rather than the layout editor or other tools available for creating and editing report layout.

  • Edit a copy of predefined layout templates, rather than creating reports or layout templates.

To modify the email notification template:

  1. Navigate to the BI Publisher.

  2. Click Catalog Folders.

  3. Navigate to the following folder:

    Shared Folders/Supply chain Management/Product Management/Items/New Item Requests/
  4. In New Item Request Approval Email Notification Report, click More> Customize.

  5. In New Item Request Approval Email Notification Template, click Properties and select English as the default locale. This is to ensure that the template remains intact. Click OK and click Save.

  6. Modify the template as required.

  7. To upload the template, navigate to:

    Shared Folders/Supply chain Management/Product Management/Items/New Item Requests/
  8. Click Properties. In Templates, click Upload.

  9. Select the template you modified in rich text format and click OK.

  10. For localization:

    • In New Item Request Approval Email Notification Report, click Properties.

    • In Translations, click Extract Translation to download the translation.xlf file.

    • Update the translation.xlf file with required language and upload it to the respective language.

Add a Branding Logo and Change Other Shared Components in Workflow Notifications

A predefined subtemplate contains common components for all workflow notifications based on predefined report layouts. For example, the subtemplate has a place for you to add a branding logo, which would appear at the beginning of email notifications. You can modify other shared components so that the same changes apply to your notifications. For example, for email notifications, you can also change the text on action buttons, or the text of the links that appear at the end of emails.

Note:
  • You must edit a copy of the subtemplate in the Custom folder of the business intelligence (BI) catalog. Don't directly update the predefined subtemplate.

  • The exact steps can vary depending on your version of Microsoft Word.

Modifying Shared Components in the Subtemplate

To edit a copy of the predefined subtemplate that contains the shared components:

  1. Click Navigator > Reports and Analytics.

  2. Click the Browse Catalog icon.

  3. In the BI catalog (the Folders pane), expand Shared Folders > Common Content > Templates.

  4. For Workflow Notification Subtemplate, click More and select Customize.

    If you're not using the Customize option:

    1. Click Copy in the toolbar with Workflow Notification Subtemplate selected.

    2. In the BI catalog, expand Shared Folders > Custom > Common Content > Templates. Create a Templates folder in this location if it doesn't exist.

    3. Click Paste in the toolbar.

    4. Click the Edit link for the copied subtemplate.

    All reports using the predefined subtemplate are automatically redirected to point to your subtemplate in the Custom folder. This applies:

    • To all reports, predefined or not

    • No matter if you copy and paste the subtemplate or use the Customize option

    • Only if your subtemplate has the same name and relative file path within Custom as the predefined subtemplate

  5. In the Templates section, click the link in the Locale column.

  6. Save the subtemplate .rtf file to your computer.

  7. Open the .rtf file with Microsoft Word.

    • To add a logo, insert your own image in the subtemplate.

    • To change button or link text, edit the text accordingly. Make the same edits wherever that button or link text appears in the subtemplate.

      Caution: To ensure that your layout templates reflect these changes without additional rework, don't edit any other text in the subtemplate .rtf file.
  8. Update Word options to ensure that existing links remain intact in the subtemplate.

    1. Click File > Options > Advanced.

    2. In the Word Options dialog box, click Web Options in the General section.

    3. In the Web Options dialog box, open the Files tab.

    4. Deselect the Update links on save check box.

  9. Save your changes in Word.

Uploading the Modified Subtemplate

To upload your subtemplate to the BI catalog:

  1. In the BI catalog, expand Shared Folders > Custom > Common Content > Templates.

  2. Click Edit for Workflow Notification Subtemplate.

  3. In the Templates section, click the Upload icon.

  4. Select your modified .rtf subtemplate and a locale, and click OK to overwrite the original subtemplate.

Use Quick Parts for Workflow Notifications

Use the Quick Parts feature in Microsoft Word to easily insert reusable pieces of formatted content. When you edit copies of predefined report layout templates for workflow notifications in Word, you can add predefined Quick Parts content to your .rtf file. For example, you can insert a table in a format that's consistent with predefined notifications. The predefined Quick Parts content is available in a style template .dotx file on My Oracle Support.

Note: The exact steps can vary depending on your version of Microsoft Word.

Prerequisites

To get the predefined Quick Parts content into your Quick Parts gallery:

  1. Open Configurable Workflow Notifications: Implementation Considerations (2215570.1) on My Oracle Support at https://support.oracle.com.

  2. Download the .dotx file and save it to your Microsoft Word template folder, for example C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates.

Also, to preview your layout template changes before uploading the .rtf file back to the business intelligence (BI) catalog:

  • Generate sample report data from the data model for the report that you're editing.

  • Download a local copy of the subtemplate that applies to the layout template.

Adding Quick Parts Content to Workflow Notifications

To insert content from the Quick Parts gallery into a layout template:

  1. In the BI catalog, find the predefined report with the layout template that you want to modify.

  2. For the report, click More and select Customize.

    If you're not using the Customize option:

    1. Copy the predefined report and paste it in an appropriate subfolder within the Custom folder.

    2. Click the Edit link for the copied report.

  3. Click Edit for the layout template to insert Quick Parts content into, and save the .rtf file to your computer with a new file name.

  4. Open the .rtf file with Microsoft Word.

  5. Put your cursor where you want to insert new content.

  6. From the Insert tab on the ribbon, click Quick Parts within the Text group, and select the component to insert.

  7. Edit the inserted component as needed and add any other components.

  8. Save your changes in Word.

Previewing the Layout Template Changes

To preview your edits before uploading your layout template to the BI catalog:

  1. On the ribbon, open the BI Publisher tab and click Sample XML within the Load Data group to import sample data from the data model. Skip this step if you already loaded sample data.

  2. At the beginning of the document, replace the path with the location of the downloaded subtemplate file on your computer. For example, change <?import:xdoxsl:///Common Content/Templates/Workflow Notification Subtemplate.xsb?> to <?import:file:///C:/Template_Directory/FinFunWorkflowNotificationSub.rtf?>.

  3. From the BI Publisher tab on the ribbon, click HTML in the Preview group.

  4. If the preview reflects your changes as expected, then change the path back to the original location.

  5. Save your changes in Word.

Uploading the Modified Layout Template

To upload your layout template to the BI catalog after previewing the changes:

  1. Back in the BI catalog, click Edit for the report within the Custom folder, if that page isn't still open.

  2. Click the View a list link.

  3. Click the Create icon on the table toolbar.

  4. In the Upload or Generate Layout section, click Upload.

  5. Upload your edited .rtf file with a unique layout name.

  6. Back on the page for editing the report, click Delete for the layout template that you downloaded earlier.

  7. Click the Save Report icon.

Preview Changes to Layout Templates for Workflow Notifications

To modify workflow notifications, you edit a local copy of the .rtf report layout templates in Microsoft Word. Before uploading the .rtf files to the business intelligence (BI) catalog, you should preview the output with the changes you made. You can avoid uploading a broken report that displays an error in the notifications sent to users.

Note: The exact steps can vary depending on your version of Microsoft Word.

Prerequisites

  • Generate sample report data from the data model used for the report, and save the .xml file to your computer.

  • Download a local copy of the subtemplate that applies to your own report layout template:

    1. In the BI catalog, expand Shared Folders > Custom > Common Content > Templates if you're using a modified subtemplate, or Shared Folders > Common Content > Templates for the predefined subtemplate.

    2. Click Edit for Workflow Notification Subtemplate.

    3. In the Templates section, click the link in the Locale column.

    4. Save the subtemplate .rtf file to your computer.

Previewing Output

To generate sample output from a local layout template:

  1. Open your .rtf report layout template in Microsoft Word and make your edits.

  2. On the ribbon, open the BI Publisher tab and click Sample XML within the Load Data group.

  3. Select the .xml file you downloaded to import sample data from the data model.

  4. At the beginning of your .rtf document, replace the path with the location of the downloaded subtemplate file on your computer. For example, change <?import:xdoxsl:///Common Content/Templates/Workflow Notification Subtemplate.xsb?> to <?import:file:///C:/Template_Directory/FinFunWorkflowNotificationSub.rtf?>.

  5. From the BI Publisher tab on the ribbon, click HTML in the Preview group.

  6. If the preview reflects your changes as expected, then change the path back to the original location.

  7. From the BI Publisher tab on the ribbon, click Validate Template in the Tools group.

  8. Also in the Tools group, click Check Accessibility.

  9. Save your changes in Word.

Task Assignment and Routing

The BPM Worklist supports declarative assignment and routing of tasks to a single user or group. Additionally, pattern-based support is available for scenarios that require detailed task assignment and routing.

Stage

A stage is a way of organizing the approval process for blocks of participant types. In the Product Development and Product Hub work areas, there is only one sage and it's in a parallel mode. In the parallel mode, the task gets assigned and notifications are sent to all participants at the same time. Within each stage, you can have one or more blocks of participant types. It is recommended not to modify the default settings in stage.

Participant

A participant is a user or set of users in the assignment and routing policy definition.

Participant Type

A participant type corresponds to a user or group. The workflow supports declarative patterns for common routing scenarios such as management chain, and group vote. The following participant types are available:

  • Single approver: The participant maps to a user or group.

    For example, a vacation request is assigned to a manager. The manager must act on the request three days before the vacation starts. If the manager formally approves or rejects the request, the employee is notified about the decision. If the manager does not act on the request, the request is treated as rejected and actions are similar to a formal rejection.

  • Parallel: The participant indicates that a set of people must work in parallel. This pattern is commonly used for voting.

    For example, multiple users in a hiring scenario must vote to hire or reject an applicant. You specify the voting percentage that is needed for the outcome to take effect, such as a majority vote or unanimous vote.

  • FYI (For Your Information): Corresponds to a single user, group, or role. This pattern indicates that the participant just receives a notification task and the business process does not wait for the participant's response. Participants cannot directly impact the outcome of a task, however in some cases can provide comments or add attachments.

    For example, a regional sales office is notified that a product has been approved by the regional manager and is being passed on to the state wide manager for approval or rejection. FYI participants cannot directly impact the product approval. They can only provide comments or add attachments.

Approval Groups in BPM Worklist

An approval group consists of a static and predefined set of users configured to act on a task. Approval tasks are routed to an approval group in parallel mode. For example, you can create an approval group called Line Managers comprised of users from the finance department who need to participate in approving a task.

New approval groups can be created, or existing approval groups can be modified using the BPM Worklist. The approval group can then be selected in the list builder.

If the Allow empty groups attribute is set to True and the approval group doesn't contain any member, then the rule evaluation progresses without displaying any error. If the rule evaluation does not result in a valid assignment, the BPEL process manages the scenario. In such scenarios, the transaction is either rejected or moved back to the original status. It is recommended to set the Allow empty groups attribute to False.

Task, Stage, and Participant

The BPM Worklist supports the Change Order Header Stage.

The figure shows the stages and participant within a task

Stages and participant within a task
Note:
  • The following stages are not supported: Change Order Line Stage, Change Order Line Serial Stage, and Change Order Line Parallel Stage. By default, they are set to Ignore Stage.

  • Though you see the line stage approval configuration in the BPM workflow configuration screen, it is recommended not to make any changes in the line stage approval configuration.

The seeded approval tasks, stages, and participants in change order and new item request:

Change Order Approval Task

  • Change Order Optional Approval Stage

    • Change Order Optional Approvers

  • Change Order Header Approval Stage

    • Change Order Header Rule Based Parallel Approvers

    • Change Order Header Rule Based Single Approver

    • Change Order Header User Defined Parallel Approvers

    • Change Order Header User Defined Single Approver

New Item Request Approval Task

  • New Item Request Optional Approval Stage

    • New Item Request Optional Approvers

  • New Item Request Header Approval Stage

    • New Item Request Header Rule Based Parallel Approvers

    • New Item Request Header Rule Based Single Approver

    • New Item Request Header User Defined Parallel Approvers

    • New Item Request Header User Defined Single Approver

Actions for Reviewers and Approvers

Transaction reviewers are provided with the following:

  • Bell icon

  • BPM Worklist

  • Email notification

Approvers are provided with the following actions:

  • Approve: Once a task is sent for approval, the approver can use the approve action to continue the task.

  • Reject: Task assignee can reject the task to prevent further approval.

  • Request More Information: If the task assignee wants more clarification from the requester, the task can again be sent to the requester. Users can also specify who requested the information. The task is not rejected and once the required information is provided, the approval flow begins again.

  • Reassign: The task assignee can send the task to another user for approval. The new user's hierarchy is used for approval. For example, if a user thinks that the task is relevant to another department, he can reassign it.

  • Delegate: A user can delegate the task to another user. After approval by the delegate, the initial user's hierarchy is used for approval. The delegate can still act on the task after task expiry.

  • Withdraw: The task initiator can withdraw the task after the approval has been initiated.

  • Escalate: A user can escalate the task from the current assignee to the supervisor.

  • Claim: A task that is assigned to a group or multiple users must first be claimed. Claim is the only action available in the task action list for group or multi-user assignments. After the task is claimed, all applicable actions are listed. Claim is available only if auto claim is disabled and the response required from is set to One.

  • Dismiss: Used for a task that requires the person (acting on the task) to acknowledge the receipt. This is similar to an FYI notification, which does not involve any action.

  • Resume: A task that was halted by a Suspend action can be worked on again.

  • Release: Releasing a claimed task makes it available to other assignees. A task assigned to a group or multiple users can then be claimed by the other assignees.

  • Suspend: The expiration date remains suspended until the task is resumed. After suspension, options to update a task are disabled.

    Note: The Suspend and Resume tasks are only available for users with the BPMWorkflowSuspend role.

Examples of Entry and Exit Criteria

Rules-based entry and exit criteria can be used to add an additional layer of validation to the change order or new item request. The criteria can be selected for different workflow statuses in the change order or new item request.

The entry criteria is available for the following statuses: definition, interim approval, and approval.

The exit criteria is available for the following statuses: open, definition, and interim approval.

You can create validation rules using the Manage Item Rule Set task; set the association type to change order or new item request. Prior to creating the entry and exit criteria, create a change order type and set it to rules-based approval.

The following attributes are supported when creating the criteria:

Change Header Main

  • Priority

  • Reason

  • Need-by Date

  • Requested By

  • Description

  • Descriptive Flexfield

Change Line

The change line entity doesn't support line attributes. You can however create the criteria using descriptive flexfield values from change line, for which you need to specify the entity. Example:

[ChangeHeader].Flexfield[CHHD_Glob_Seg_Char_1]

Example of the exit criteria for open status: Consider that the priority code of the change order is high. Then the need-by date can be set as mandatory for the change order to be promoted to the next status in the workflow.

If Expression
[ChangeHeader].[ChangeHeaderMain].[PriorityCode] == "HIGH"
Validation Condition
isNull([ChangeHeader].[Change Header Main].[Need-by Date]) == false

Example of the entry criteria for approval status: If the value in the Reason field is Cost, then priority of the change order is set to High.

If Expression
[ChangeHeader].[ChangeHeaderMain].[ReasonCode] == "COST"
Validation Condition 
[ChangeHeader].[ChangeHeaderMain].[PriorityCode] == "HIGH"

Create an Approval Rule

Approval rules in change orders and new item requests can be based on items, attributes, or attribute groups. You can create rules to route each attribute group to a different approver or approval group.

In this example, you create a change order approval group and an approval rule.

Rules are executed based on:

  • The new item data including the unchanged data from production or source version and

  • The modified data.

Prerequisites:

  • Ensure that EFFs are deployed and synchronized in BPM.

  • For the change order type, ensure that the approval is set to rules-based.

    To do this, run the Manage Change Order Types task in the Product Management Offering. Edit the change order type to set the approval to rules-based.

This table summarizes key decisions to consider, and the decisions made when creating an approval rule for a change order type.

Decisions to Consider In This Example

Who are the users responsible for approving the change order?

Create an approval group.

Have you created an approval rule for the change order type?

Create an approval rule.

The figure shows an approval group and its members.

An approval group and its members

The figure shows one of the steps in creating an approval rule.

One of the steps in creating an approval rule.

Create a change order approval group

  1. From the Setup and Maintenance work area, run the Manage Approval Group task in the Product Management offering.

  2. Click Create Approval Group.

  3. Enter a name for the group and click Save. For example, create a PricingApproval group to route all pricing changes to this group.

  4. Click Add Member.

  5. In the Add to Group dialog, select either a user or an existing approval group and click OK.

  6. Save the approval group.

Create a change order approval rule and include the approver

  1. From the Setup and Maintenance work area, run the Manage Task Configurations for Supply Chain Management task in the Product Management offering.

    Click the task in the relevant functional area.

  2. In the BPM Worklist page, search for ChangeOrderApprovalTask and select that task.

    Note that ChangeOrderApprovalTask can also be used to create an approval rule for change request.

  3. Click Assignees. The Change Order workflow appears.

  4. Click the Pencil icon next to the Save icon.

  5. In Change Order Header Rule Based Approver, click to dot icon and select Go to rule.

  6. In Rulesets, click the Plus (Add Rule) icon.

  7. Enter a name for the rule and click Expand to add the rule.

  8. Select the condition when the rule is required to be executed, and the outcome of the rule.

    For example, to control the approval of all change orders created by a user, you can route them to a particular approval group.

    If you create a rule based on the change order priority, the name and case of the priority must match with the name and case of the lookup code in the Manage Change Priorities task.

    If you create a rule based on the item class, ensure that you use the internal name mentioned in the item class.

  9. Click Save.

  10. To activate the rule, click Commit task.

Sample Rule to Manage Approval of New Item Requests

Here's a rule to manage the new item request approval of items belonging to an item class.

Scenario

  • Ensure that the attribute group is associated with the item class.

  • Ensure that EFFs are deployed and synchronized in BPM.

  1. In the Setup and Maintenance work area, go to the following:

    • Offering: Product Management

    • Functional Area: New Item Requests

    • Task: Manage Task Configuration for Supply Chain Management

  2. Click Assignees. The New Item Request workflow appears.

  3. In New Item Request Header Rule Based single Approver, click the dot icon and select Go to rule.

  4. Expand a new rule. enter the details of the rule.

  5. Here's a sample rule to manage approval of items in the CircuitBoard item class. The approval is routed to a user, based on certain conditions.

    IF
    CircuitBoard2.plmPackagingInformation     isn't     null
    CircuitBoard2.plmPackagingInformation.complaint     isn't     No
    Then
    List Builder = Resource
    Response Type = Required
    Participants
    Users = "scm_user10b"
    Groups = null
    Application Role = null 
    Rule Name = "simpleEffRule" 
    Note:
    • If you're accessing the attribute group from the item class, check for a null condition.

    • To select an attribute group in an item class, enter <classname> followed by a dot.

  6. Click Save.

  7. To activate the rule, click Commit.

FAQs for Workflow and Approval Management

What's the difference between Save and Commit?

Use the Save icon to temporarily save your changes. Note that this doesn't activate any recent changes you made to the workflow.

Use the Commit icon to activate your recent changes.

What happens if I start synchronization?

Synchronization affects EFF metadata of all users in the environment. It synchronizes all EFF metadata available from 1 month, 10 days and 3 hours.

Why am I prompted to start synchronization even after I have synchronized the data?

Another user might have modified EFFs, or the session might have timed out before the synchronization is complete.

How long does the EFF synchronization process take?

Depending on the environment set up and EFF configuration, synchronization might require between 5 to 45 minutes.

Why did the workflow stop responding?

The workflow might stop responding due to one of the following reasons:

  • Approval rule encounters an empty approval group.

  • Approval rule not being associated with an approval group.

  • One or more change order lines doesn't match any rules in the approval task.

  • EFFs not being generated.

  • Inactive rules.

  • Rules unavailable for the header stage.

  • In a new item request, if a reject rule states that Approval Status is Approved and Description = ABC, then the new item request is rejected. Approval notification is not sent.

  • A new item request definition step assigned to a role and the role not being assigned to any user.

  • An error in SOA workflow. Use Enterprise Manager to view workflow errors.

  • Use of an incorrect case to specify the value of a parameter such as priority code.

Why is my approval rule not working in a new item request?

An approval rule may not work due to one of the following reasons:

  • You haven't set the assignment method in the new item request type as Rules Based.

    Open the Manage New Item Request Type Details task and change the Assignment Method in the approval workflow.

  • You selected the Ignore Participant option for the rule. To include the participant:

    • Navigate to the BPM Worklist.

    • In the Assignees tab, select the participant. Click the Advanced tab.

    • Deselect Ignore Participant.

      Here's the screen that shows how you include the participant:

      Screen that shows how you include the participant
  • You selected the Ignore Stage option. To include the stage:

    • Navigate to the BPM Worklist.

    • In the Assignees tab, select the participant and then select the stage. In the UI, stage is the region that encloses the participant.

    • Click the Advanced tab.

    • Deselect Ignore Stage.

      Here's the screen that shows how you include the stage:

      Screen that shows how you include the stage
  • The NewItemRequestHeaderRuleSet isn't active. To activate the rule set:

    • Navigate to the BPM Worklist.

    • Select the participant. Click the dot icon and then select Go to rule.

    • Click Show Advanced Settings (or the double down arrow icon) that appears next to the rule set.

    • Select Active.

      Here's the screen that shows how you activate the rule set:

      Screen that shows how you activate the rule

Why is the advanced mode required while defining rules in the header stage?

Because the NewItemLineApproval object is available only through the ChangeObjectApproval object.

Can I create dynamic approval groups for a line and for on-premise customers?

Dynamic approval groups cannot be created for a line or for on-premise customers.

How can I indicate that a workflow notification is opened by another user?

You can expose the Claimed by value on worklist notifications. The claim action is only available for tasks having a single participant, in which an assignee can act on behalf of all users receiving the notification. It is controlled using the Manage Task Configurations for Supply Chain Management task. Select the enable Auto claim option.

Why did the change order get stuck in the workflow in spite of having optional approvers?

A rejection from an optional approver and absence of a mandatory approver can cause the change order to get stuck in the workflow. It is important to define mandatory approvers.

What's the difference between reassign and delegate?

A user can reassign the task to another user for approval. The new user's hierarchy is used for approval. For example, if a user receives an approval request relevant to another team, he can reassign it to a user in another team.

A user can delegate the task to another user. After approval by the delegate, the initial user's hierarchy is used for approval. The delegate can still act on the task after task has expired.

Can I specify rules at different levels when using dynamic approval groups for change orders?

For on-premise customers, rules can be specified at both header and line levels.

How can I use BPM Worklist to configure the new item request or change order for autoapproval?

When creating the approval rule, set Auto Action Enabled to True, and Auto Action to Approve.