Posted in Approval Process, HowTo, Workflows

Workflow Approval Process: How to Build a Seamless System in Minutes

Businesses must approve all sorts of documents every day, from invoices to time off requests to purchase orders. Without a good workflow approval system in place, all the time (and money) spent on approvals can rapidly start to add up.

Some companies get by with manual approval processes, perhaps relying on the strength of a highly effective operations manager. They email Excel spreadsheets around for signatures, or worse, rely on physical paper forms. But the modest amount of money saved by forgoing a more sophisticated or automated approval system can quickly evaporate through missed documents, lost discounts, and other human errors common with manual systems.

Savvier businesses have an automated workflow approval process.

Join us as we explore the basics of workflow approval, what business processes to automate, how to streamline the process, and how to use one software to do it.

Continue reading “Workflow Approval Process: How to Build a Seamless System in Minutes”
Posted in Forms, HowTo, Mobile, Usability

Responsive Forms: The Tactical Guide for Modern, Growing Organizations

The modern workforce is picking up their mobile devices and not putting them down. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend has skyrocketed in the last decade with nearly 90% of employees connecting to company networks via their mobile devices 

As this trend continues, your customers and employees expect to leverage portability and access forms and business services from anywhere and from any device. This gives customers the flexibility to interact with you anywhere and from any device. It also gives employees the freedom to keep projects moving without being chained to their desktop computers.

The end result? Your organization also saves time and resources as projects get done faster and more efficiently — and provides a better customer experience.  

There is a caveat, though.

Increased efficiency is only possible if people use your mobile apps. Poorly-designed, non-responsive forms keep them from fully enjoying and embracing the mobile experience. And for growing organizations, a frustrating mobile experience creates an unproductive work environment and employee disdain for difficult mobile applications. 

The good news is that virtually any form or workflow can be optimized for mobile. Employee onboarding, contracts and quotes, proposals, expense forms, and more—all from any device, and from any location. 

Let’s go over the characteristics of mobile-optimized forms, what they are and how to implement them into your employee’s workflow. 

Continue reading “Responsive Forms: The Tactical Guide for Modern, Growing Organizations”
Posted in Approval Process, HowTo, Workflows

Workflows: Approve vs Deny vs Reject

PurchaseApprovalWhile working with customers, I’ve recently noticed that a lot of approval steps in a workflow have three possible outcomes. Consider a Purchase Requisition workflow where an Employee wants to buy something and it goes to his/her Manager for approval. If approved, the next step is Purchasing.
What actions could the Manager take?

  1. He could Approve in which case the workflow moves forward to Purchasing.
  2. He could Reject back to the employee asking for more information in which case it moves backward to the Employee.
  3. Or, he could Deny the request completely (Reject to discard) in which case the workflow should move forward, skip the Purchasing step and terminate.

With frevvo, the Approve case is trivial. It’s the default behavior. Reject back to the Employee is also straightforward. It’s built-in to frevvo and can be configured for any step.
Deny (Reject to discard) is also easy but not so obvious. We’re considering adding this as a built-in feature but you can do this today by taking a few steps.
Step 1. Create an approval section with a Radio button
RequestStatus
The radio has two options: Approve or Deny. Deny is the second (last) option and the Comment property is checked. If the Manager clicks Deny, a text box will show up below the radio asking for details. Note the Name (set to RequestStatus) and Options (values are Approve and Deny) properties of the Radio control. You can also set the control to invisible and create a rule to show/hide it in the appropriate flow step (Manager in this case). For example:

if (form.load) {
var an = _data.getParameter(‘flow.activity.name’);
RequestStatus.visible = (an !== “Employee”);
RequestStatus.enabled = (an === “Manager”);
}

Step 2. Set Preconditions
PreconditionIn the Flow Designer, select the Purchasing step. Set the precondition as shown in the image to:

RequestStatus.value === “Approve”

This will evaluate to true only if the Manager selected Approve in the Radio we created earlier. If it’s false (Manager selected Deny), the Purchasing step will be skipped and the workflow will terminate.
Step 3. Setup Reject
SetupRejectIn the Flow Designer, select the Manager step and then click the Setup Approval/Rejection link in the Properties panel.
In the wizard that shows up, you can check Reject from here, Reject to here, change the label of the Reject button itself and customize the subject/body of the notification email.
Repeat this step for any other step from which you wish to Reject.
That’s it. Now, the Manager can:

  1. Select Approve in the Radio and continue the workflow. It will move to Purchasing.
  2. Select Deny in the Radio, provide a reason and continue the workflow. It will skip Purchasing and terminate.
  3. Click the Reject button and send the workflow backwards to the Employee for more information.
Posted in HowTo

SAML 2.0

With the release of 6.2, customers will have the option to login to frevvo via SAML 2.0. This is primarily meant for cloud tenants who use LDAP but do not want to expose it over the internet. Of course, there will be those who prefer to use it simply because it offers single sign-on (SSO). The inability to access LDAP does require us to store user and role information in frevvo in order to route the workflow tasks. This data duplication may seem unwarranted in on-premise deployments, where LDAP is accessible. On the other hand, there is still Integrated Windows Authentication as an SSO option.
The use of SAML requires the configuration and installation of a SAML identity provider product. These products can be free (Shibboleth, OpenSSO) or commercial (ADFS, PingFederate, etc), require IT savvy personnel to set it up, or be subscription based cloud providers like OneLogin who provide connectors to hook up your LDAP with SAML. Once setup, you need to release attributes about the user viz. user id, first name, last name, email, manager user id, and role names. Manager and Role attribute values are typically available as distinguished names (DN) in the LDAP, and require additional lookup and transformation to convert them to identifiers. The support for/ease of doing this varies depending on the LDAP and SAML product. Other custom attributes can also be released for use in frevvo forms. In addition, the ‘frevvo.User’ role must be configured for any user to be authorized to access frevvo. The Add/Edit Tenant screens allow configuring the service and identity provider metadata as well as mapping the attribute names. Security in SAML is achieved via signing/encrypting the communication and this requires managing cryptographic keys. This can be setup in the key-store provided with frevvo.
While the user attributes can be discovered and saved on login, routing to other users requires user/role information to be available upfront. This can be accomplished using the bulk user CSV upload feature that is already available for use with the default security manager. Custom attributes, however, will not be persisted. With user information coming from 2 sources viz.  login and upload, the most recent data will be used. Complete information needs to be provided from either source as there is no support for merging data.

Posted in Approval Process, HowTo, Workflows

Design Patterns for Document Approval Processes – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed an approval process that collects comments/a signature from an external, anonymous person. This second pattern is another common approval process where an employee forwards a request to his/her manager. The manager can approve/reject the request or ask the employee for more information. A common variation is where a supervisor or VP has to further approve in some situations e.g. the amount is greater than $1,000.
Internal Document Approval Process
Some examples might be:

  • Employee submits a Purchase Requisition (purchase request).
  • Vacation/Leave approval.
  • Student course/schedule changes approved by advisor.
  • Contract approval by supervisor.
  • Expense report.

With frevvo 5.3, automating this process is straightforward.

  1. Drag and drop the internal employee form(s) into the workflow and use the Form Designer to layout/arrange controls. Typically, you’d add the manager and VP sections to this same form and hide them in the first step. Currently, this requires a simple business rule but we’ll soon be removing the need to write a rule.
  2. Use a linked step for the manager and configure it to route [dynamically] to the employee’s manager using a built-in template.
  3. If required, use a linked activity for the VP and configure it to route to the VP. Set a pre-condition on this activity so it only runs if the condition is true.
  4. The final step could be to route to an HR or Purchasing role, to integrate with a database or with a back end system.

Purchase Requisition Approval Workflow
That’s it. How does it work? The employee accesses the workflow (preferably via a frevvo space) and fills in the form, signs it and clicks Continue.
Employee Purchase Requisition Form
frevvo will send that employee’s manager a notification, which the designer can customize. The manager clicks on the notification [on any device], can view the purchase request and approve it or send it back for corrections. If approved, the workflow will be routed to the VP for further approval if the set condition is true otherwise it will continue to the next step for fulfillment.
Purchase Request Manager Approval
Want to learn more quickly:? Check out one of our short videos and contact us if you have questions.