Many of our clients deploy some type of business workflow as a part of their ECM offering and see some great efficiency improvements. This entry is going to outline how a large Pharmaceutical client was able to create some advanced reporting around their promotional materials approval process to help identify inefficiencies in their process and improve their workflow turnaround time. The client uses TSG’s Active Wizard dynamic workflow engine to drive their approval process of promotional and marketing materials. They were looking for answers to the following kinds of questions about their process:
- How long does a particular user take to approve tasks? How does this compare to all of the other users in the system that perform a similar job function?
- How long does the entire approval process take? How long does each individual piece of the approval process take (review, approval, regulatory approval, artwork approval, governmental approval)? How does document data affect the length of the process?
- How many packages are going through the process in a particular time period? As the volume of packages in the system increases, how does that affect the length of time it takes to approve a package?
The answer to these questions are hidden in the individual data points for each workflow. By crafting some Documentum DQL queries, we were able to pull all of these various data points from the audit trail for each workflow to build a table that represented every event related to the progress of a workflow. The audited events include: Start Workflow, Abort, Reject, Delegate, Approve, Complete Review, etc.
Used on its own, this massive data dump of workflow information did not allow the client to answer any of the above questions since the data is not in a usable form. The client uses IBM’s Cognos PowerPlay Studio as the presentation layer to extract relevant information from the data to answer the questions above. PowerPlay Studio allows the client to display information via a series of “measures” and “dimensions” that describe the workflow data. The business users are able to drag and drop different combinations of measures and dimensions to present the data in a way that would help them answer the above questions and many more.
A chief driver for this project was to shift the responsibility of data analysis from the IT department to the business stakeholders. There had been many attempts at data analysis that followed the pattern:
- Business asks for a single measure or data point
- IT department builds a static report to answer that one single question.
This endless cycle of report after report being produced put an enormous strain on an already overextended IT department. By creating a suite of dynamic Cognos reports, the IT department was able to shift away from a reactive position into one that proactively gave the business access to all workflow information. This is helpful since many times the business users aren’t really sure what to ask for before starting to build the report. The business knows their process the best, and with these dynamic reports they now have a tool that puts them in a position to get the most out of their system.
We would love to hear your stories of reporting on Documentum workflow. Send us your questions or feedback in the comments below.