Workflow

Custom processes can be implemented for your site that will insure reviewers can oversee site modifications.

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Last Reviewed: March 17, 2021

Workflow is an optional feature that must be customized for your site in partnership with the DCT Help Desk.

Introduction

Workflow adds a built-in notification and approval system to systematize your unit's regular production process.

Pages can still be modified or published without invoking this feature--but once a workflow is engaged, a specified sequence must be followed before that page's work cycle is complete.

Currently Workflow has been used to control publishing and unpublishing updated pages. A common example involves the author who modified the page sending it on to a editor for approval and subsequent publication to the live site. In this case, most or all authors in that unit initiate the workflow, and a small number of publishers conclude the process.

How To Set Up a Workflow

Work with us to set up your first Workflow. Before you contact us, please consider how you normally produce your content in the UBCMS now, which people are involved (for authoring, review, and activation), and how a new or revised page would ideally flow through that chain of people (author completes changes -> page is reviewed -> page is published or goes back for more changes, etc.). All of this will inform the custom solution we build for your site.

Remember, Workflow only adds capabilities; it does not have to disrupt any business practices that are already in place. No one’s ability to directly edit or publish pages will be changed. Also, Workflow is not mandatory--they must be invoked intentionally in each case by an author. So you can begin gradually experimenting while still following your standard editorial procedures.

When identifying the people who will be part of your Workflow, start with your core team. We will suggest you initially set up a trial period to become accustomed to the Workflow process and make any adjustments. Eventually, you can transition to Workflows as the primary way to move things along for some or all of your website.

Workflow relies on your existing permission groups. For example, anyone in your site's author group will be able to initiate a workflow, although you may initially instruct those outside the core group to ignore them. For the core group, they will make changes to a page and then initiate the Workflow process. Notification that the page has been modified will then be passed to a group of reviewers, and if accepted, the page will be activated, or passed back to the original author for additional changes. 

Available Workflows

Based on our pilot studies, we have established two standard templates that should meet most site's needs.

Once you have a good idea how you wish your workflow structured, complete the Request Workflow form.

How to Use a Workflow

Workflows are initiated at the page level. Site authors should see all workflows that are available for their site, and no workflows set up for other sites.

What follows is a generalized description of a workflow, highlighting significant features.

1 - Initiate Workflow

Someone in the first group (e.g. your site authors) opens a page in Author and makes desired changes. They can then immediately start the Workflow from the Edit Console, as follows:

  1. Click the equalizer button at the top left of the window.
  2. From the options, select Start Workflow.
  3. Provide a Title. This is optional but a useful way to summarize the changes.
  4. Provide Comments. This is optional but recommended to describe the changes that have been made.
  5. Click Start Workflow.
screenshot of equalizer icon and dropdown that includes Start Workflow option.

Start Workflow is an option in the equalizer icon dropdown

screenshot of Workflow options.

Workflow options

2 - Notifications Sent

screenshot of the active Workflow notification banner as displayed to a regular author.

active Workflow notification banner for a regular author

Once a page is in Workflow, a special banner displays at the top of the page (e.g. 'WORKFLOW: This page is subject to the workflow SPHHP Activation Workflow') to warn authors that Workflow now controls this page.  

screenshot of page annotations.

Enter Annotation mode to see more details about a workflow.

This banner is an Annotation. To see who started the workflow and when, click the numbered icon at the top right of the page to enter Annotation Mode, then click the 'Page' bubble to expand it.

In this example, it states: "Page submitted to SPHHP Activation Workflow Workflow on Thu Nov 12 13:39:54 EST 2020 by hjarvis."

> learn more about Annotations

Completion of the first stage of the workflow generates notifications and adds additional tools for the next group specified in the process (e.g. reviewers or approvers). Title or Comment are included if submitted.

  • Email -- An email goes to each UBCMS profile in this second group, normally their standard @buffalo.edu address.
  • Inbox -- Click the Bell icon, top right of the Sites console. Open the notification or enter the Inbox to view a message with details as well as tools to complete the workflow.
  • Timeline -- In the Sites console the Timeline for the active Workflow page will include several messages as well as a special 'Review Page' banner with details and tools to complete the workflow.
  • Page Annotation banner -- The banner at the top of the active Workflow page will display options not visible to the regular author including tools to complete the workflow.
  • Workflow Instances -- From the Start page, click Tools to see your submissions. Can Terminate or Suspend but not complete the workflow.

3 - Approve Modifications

Recipients in the next group must now complete their part of the Workflow. Workflows will have different steps depending how they are set up, but for many, the next step will be approval and closure (e.g. publish or unpublish the page) or rejection with additional comments to the initiator.

Notifications are provided in a variety of places. Each has options that are detailed below.

  1. Review any comments provided by the initiator in the notification.
  2. If desired, open the associated page to view the changes.
  3. If the changes are acceptable, complete this step of the workflow by clicking Complete or Step back in  the Annotation banner at the top of the page.
Each of the notification options provides tools to complete (or terminate) the workflow. For convenience, the page Annotation banner is covered first.
  • Page Annotation banner -- The banner at the top of the page in active Workflow will display options not visible to the regular author including tools to complete the workflow.
  • Email -- provides details of the workflow and a link to the page in Author.
  • Inbox -- Select/open a message to display details and tools to complete the workflow.
  • Timeline -- Select the page to reveal a special 'Review Page' banner with details and tools to complete the workflow.
  • Workflow Instances -- From the Start page, click Tools to see your submissions. Can Terminate or Suspend but not complete the workflow.
More details are provided on each of these below.

4 - Possible Additional Steps

Depending on the Workflow, there may be additional steps here...

5 - Workflow Completion

The Workflow now progresses to the final step in the process and end.

  • In our commmon models, the page is either published/unpublished or left as it was.
  • The page Annotation and banner is removed.
  • The Workflow Instances notification is deleted.
  • The Timeline special banner is removed but messages about the workflow will remain.
  • The initiator receives an email with the subject "Page accepted and published" or "Page rejected" with the approver's Comments (see screenshots below).
screenshot of 'Page accepted and published' email received by initiator.

'Page accepted and published' email received by initiator

screenshot of 'Page rejected' email received by initiator.

'Page rejected' email received by initiator

Running a Workflow on DAM Assets

  • DAM assets can be included within your normal workflow. There is no need for a separate workflow model unless you wish to apply a different logic to these assets.  
  • There is no way to apply an annotation to a DAM asset. There will be a little workflow icon in the status column of the asset in the asset list of its parent folder, but there will be no visible indicator when the DAM asset itself is viewed to indicate that there is a workflow actively running on it.
  • The workflow cannot be initiated from the actual DAM asset because there is no sidekick in the DAM interface. Your workflow must be completed from the Inbox.

Here is how to start a workflow on a DAM asset:

  1. In the asset list of a particular folder click once on the asset to select it.
  2. In the toolbar click the Workflow button.
  3. Choose the appropriate workflow model and optionally add a Comment and Title.  

A workflow icon should now appear in the status column of the asset list.

To complete DAM workflow steps when you have been assigned to complete a step:

  1. Review the DAM asset.
  2. Go to your Inbox.
  3. Select the workflow item you wish to complete. 
  4. Click the Complete button.
  5. Fill in the details of the dialog box and click OK.

After all steps of the running workflow have been completed, the little workflow icon should disappear from the status column of the asset list.

There is no way to apply an annotation to a DAM asset. There will be a little workflow icon in the status column of the asset in the asset list of its parent folder, but there will be no visible indicator when the DAM asset itself is viewed to indicate that there is a workflow actively running on it.

How to Roll Out Workflows in Your Organization

Start with your core team; be sure that your theory works in practice and you have full understanding.

Begin by slowly experimenting with a Workflow while you continue with your routine processes. Eventually, you can transition to a Workflow as the primary way to move things along, with what you have been doing traditionally as a backup.

We suggest during this trial period that you minimize who is using your Workflow and only gradually deploy it to your entire team.  

Create a roll out plan:

  • We suggest you roll out to small sections at a time to be sure this works for your users. It is best to start with the users that are easiest to work with and fast learners.
  • Be sure to have a range of technology comfort in this group, a “tech” will see this with a very different lens than 'Joe Average.'
  • When you are ready for full deployment, set up an orientation/training session for your organization to onboard new users.
  • Your 'early adopters' can help with the training of others.
  • Your unit should compile its own documentation about YOUR workflow to guide your unit’s understanding and train new people as they come on board.

Managing Workflow Activity (Reports)

Site managers can run a report to list details of any of their site's pages that have been associated with workflows. Since workflows are by site, you must be a member of that site's workflow groups to see the details.

Editing Workflows (admins only)

Advanced users with workflow-editor permissions have the ability to modify their existing workflows.

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