Workflow activities overview
Activities are units of work, each of which contributes to the accomplishment of a workflow process. Active Roles offers a default set of activities that provide pre-defined functionality for approval, notification, control flow, and conditions. Scripting can be used to have an activity perform custom functions.
Activities are the primary building blocks for workflows. A workflow is basically a set of activities organized in a process diagram. When you construct a workflow using the Workflows Designer, you drag activities from the activities panel onto the process diagram and then configure them there. The configurable settings common to every activity are:
- Name. The name is used to identify the activity on the workflow diagram.
- Description. This optional text can be helpful to distinguish the activity. The description is displayed when you point with the mouse to the activity on the process diagram.
The following sections elaborate on the types of activity that are included with Active Roles, and provide information about the configurable settings specific to each activity type.
An Approval activity, also referred to as an approval rule, represents a decision point in a workflow that is used to obtain authorization from a person before continuing the workflow. Workflow start conditions determine which operations start the workflow and the approval rules added to the workflow determine who is designated to approve the operation, the required sequence of approvals, and who needs to be notified of approval tasks or decisions.
Active Roles creates an approval task as part of the processing of an approval rule, and assigns the task to the approvers. The approver is expected to complete the task by making a decision to allow or deny the operation. Until the task is completed, the operation remains in a pending state.
The following topics cover the configurable settings specific to an Approval activity.
Approvers and escalation
Approvers are the users or groups of users designated to perform approval tasks. When processing an approval rule, Active Roles creates an approval task and assigns it to the approvers defined by the rule. The state of the task governs the workflow transition: The task must receive the Approve resolution for the operation to pass the approval rule. If the task has received the Reject resolution, the operation is denied and the workflow instance is completed.
Approvers may be selected by browsing the available users and groups, or particular role holders may be designated as approvers. For example, an approval rule can be configured so as to require approval by the manager of the operation requestor or by the manager of the group or container that is affected by the operation.
An approval rule may define two or more approver levels, with each level containing a separate list of approvers. Active Roles uses approver levels when escalating time-limited approval tasks. For each approver level the approval rule can specify a certain time period. If an approver of a given level does not complete the approval task within the specified time period, then Active Roles can assign the task to the approvers of the next level. This process is referred to as escalation.
Each approver level has the following configuration options:
- List of approvers. Specifies the users or groups of users that are designated as approvers for the approver level in question.
A valid approval rule must, at a minimum, specify a list of approvers for the initial approver level. Active Roles first assigns the approval task to the approvers of that level. To enable escalation, a separate list of approvers must be specified for one or more escalation levels.
- Approval task has no time limit. When this option is selected, the approval rule does not require that the approvers of the given level complete the approval task within a certain time period.
- Approval task has a time limit of <number> days <number> hours. When this option is selected, the approval rule requires that the approvers of the given level complete the approval task within the specified time period.
If the approval task is not completed within the specified time period, then, depending upon the selected configuration option, the approval rule can either cancel the operation waiting for approval or escalate the approval task. The latter option requires a list of approvers to be specified for the subsequent escalation level.
- Allow approver to delegate approval task. When this option is selected, the approver of the given level is allowed to assign the approval task to other persons. On the pages for performing the approval task, the approver can use the Delegate button to select the persons to assign the task to.
- Allow approver to escalate approval task. When this option is selected, the approver of the given level is allowed to escalate the approval task. On the pages for performing the approval task, the approver can use the Escalate button to assign the task to the approvers of the subsequent escalation level. This option requires a list of approvers to be specified for the subsequent escalation level.
Request for information
You can configure the Approval activity so that the approver will be requested to supply certain properties of the object when performing the approval task. Suppose the creation of a user is submitted for approval. The approver may be requested to supply certain properties of the user in addition to the properties specified in the creation request. Thus, you may configure the Approval activity to prompt the approver to specify the mailbox database for the mailbox of the user to be created.
It is also possible to configure the Approval activity so that the approver will be requested to review the object properties submitted for approval. One more option is to allow the approver to make changes to those properties.
The pages for configuring an Approval activity in the Active Roles console include the following options related to request for information:
- Show this instruction to the approver. When performing the approval task, the approver will see this instruction on the page intended to review, supply, or change the properties that are subject to the approval task. You can supply an instruction on how to perform the task.
- Request the approver to supply or change these properties. When performing the approval task, the approver will be prompted to supply or change the properties specified in this option.
- Show the original request to the approver. This option adds a separate section on the pages for performing the approval task that lists the properties submitted for approval.
- Allow the approver to modify the original request. Unless this option is selected, the approver is only allowed to view the properties submitted for approval. You could select this check box to allow the approver to change those properties.