Workflow Process Transition Management

Posted by Kevin Sweeney on Feb 12, 2014 10:48:34 AM

 

 

Workflow Process Transition Steps Workflow Process Transition Steps

 

Traditional Business Process Management (BPM) tools do not take into consideration step transitions.  The reality is that todays BPM solutions require process management control options to function efficiently.  Gone are the days where a simple sequencing of workflow steps defined the entire process transition design.   My experiences, after years of automating manufacturing processes for Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical & Medical device organizations, was that industrial process automation evolves from the field devices up to the Control Systems level.  Meaning, the process control software does not dictate how the manufacturing process will perform.  The process software adapts, learns, interprets the information being received from the field devices and interacts accordingly.  Our cDevWorkflow product follows that same process transition management philosophy by creating functions and features that enable and support all aspects of the customers BPM integration needs.

Process control within large industrial manufacturing concerns might use Distributive Control Systems (DCS) tools like "Experion" by Honeywell or "DeltaV" by Emerson.  These tools are used to manage and control manufacturing step or process transitions similar to how an office workflow would use cDevWorkflow to manage and control a sales order.

Within this example, our two workflow process functions are "Add Raw Materials to Mixing Tank" and "Run Mixer" which are being controlled within a flow of process logic.  Now remembering those programming classes where you were adding AND, OR, XOR logic gates to your digital circuits.  At a basic level, this is how DCS systems control process transitions and manage the flow of information, people and materials.  The process transition is held in place until all of the input conditions have been met.

Imagine a liquid level switch, mounted within a process tank, upon reaching its level high set point send a digital signal back to the control system.  The digital input is received by the DCS control system and recognized as a process input from the mix tank.  This input initiates a signal to the operator that there are sufficient raw materials to begin the mix phase of the process.

What the operator does not see are the levels of permissive controls, safety interlocks and security authorization logic that blocks the process transition from moving to the next step.  All of those process I/O points and logic gates have a retained value within the DCS software.  Even with a power failure, the DCS system will retain a value for each I/O point maintaining a controlled environment and all historical data.

A few years ago, we became frustrated with the BPM products on the market.  We struggled creating work-around for these products because their process transition steps did not return a transition values to the system upon a completed or failed operation.

When we created cDevWorkflow, we applied our knowledge of industrial process manufacturing in controlled, regulated environments to address this issue.   After all, why wouldn't the user be interested in controlling / managing each process transition within his / her workflow?

cDevWorkflow implemented this process transition management concept to provide enhanced routing and forking within a process.   Now a single process transition step can return any number of values.  For example, the Route step returns a value of "approved" or "rejected".  Here's an illustration of a Route step:

 

Workflow Process Transition Route Return Values Workflow Process Transition Route Return Values

 

Given the above scenario, using the "Evaluate Decisions" process transition step we can take any number of expressions to evaluate and return values.  This helps to route workflow from one process transition step to multiple steps.  And there are no limits to the number of paths that can be assigned within a workflow.

We did not stop there.  cDevWorkflow added to the process transition concept by providing evaluation expressions on a transition.  This addition makes it possible to go down a logic path based on an expression evaluation.

 

Workflow Process Transition Route Return Expression Values Workflow Process Transition Route Return Expression Values

 

Where other products only provide the concept of process transition steps within a workflow, cDevWorkflow adds the ability to actually control and manage your workflow process transitions.

A small sampling of the Workflow Technology for BPM Solutions contained within our cDevWorkflow product offering can be found here: Workflow Technology That Works.

[hs_form id="9"]

Learn more about our Process Automation & IT, QA Services or Software Development products and solutions on the Web!  Visit us at: Innovative Process Solutions

Topics: state transition, workflow transition, step transition, transition step, process transition management, Blog, process transition, workflow routing, workflow evaluation expression, product management software