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Process Timelines

This is your complete guide to Process Timelines of Process Director.

The Process Timeline functionality of Process Director is what sets it apart. Process Director adds the element of time to business process management in a way that nothing else does. Instead of traditional flowchart-based workflows, Process Director's Process Timeline uniquely adds scheduling and predictive capabilities to workflow management.

The Process Timeline may look familiar to you, because it is presented in Gantt chart format. The Gantt chart is a type of chart that places each activity in a process on a single line that is horizontally marked in some increment of time, usually days. Each activity is marked with a bar that whose left end begins at the task's start date, and ends at the task's end date. This type of chart is widely used in project management.

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Process Director uses this generic Gantt chart format for the Process Timeline, and adds additional functionality for use in modeling and managing business processes. BP Logix developed the Process Timeline to address the need to measure and predict process execution times. Process Timeline enables organizations to build robust, executable process models within Process Director. Business users design Process Timelines by answering two questions as they add each step to the process:

  • What conditions must be met before this step can begin?
  • How long will this step take to complete?

We refer to these, respectively, as the dependence and duration questions. Each activity will begin as soon as its prerequisites, if any, are complete. The result is a solution with many valuable features:

  1. Modeling is greatly simplified. Project owners list each activity, estimate its duration, and then drag- and-drop it onto the activity or activities that must complete before it can begin.
  2. As many of the activities as possible will run at the same time, without the need to explicitly configure parallel behavior.
  3. The status of the process can be determined at a glance.
  4. At any point—even the moment the process is launched—the system can determine which future activities, if any, may not be complete by their due date.
  5. The system records actual versus predicted execution times each time the process is run, and adjusts its time estimates accordingly.

Most activities have a dependence on one or more other activities. Dependence refers to the requirement that an activity cannot begin until a predecessor activity, or activities, ends. This type of relationship (often referred to by project managers as finish-to-start) represents the most fundamental starting condition for any activity.

Below is the Process Timeline for the BP Logix Getting Started Sample Project. It consists of three tasks, or activities. The Timeline column of the Process Timeline shows the number of days planned for each activity. Initial Approval is scheduled to take three workdays, Finance Approval is expected to take two workdays, and the Submitter's Notification will take 0 workdays, as it is an automated process that will be performed by Process Director. The Finance Approval activity is dependent on the Initial Approval. The Submitter's Notification, in turn, is dependent on Finance Approval.

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An activity may also be a parent or child activity. A parent activity is a container for other, subordinate activities, each of which is referred to as a child activity. Child activities have an implied dependence on their parent, so, absent any additional conditions, the child activities begin when the parent activity begins. Once all of the child activities are complete, the parent is complete.

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In Process Director, it is possible for a parent and child activities to have a much more advanced interaction than described here. These interactions are intended to support more specialized and unusual cases, however, so they will be addressed in more advanced lessons.

Each activity in the Process Timeline has an Actions column with four icons, each of which enable you to modify one of the activity's properties.

ICON

ACTION

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Drag to move under another parent: Drag the activity to a parent activity. The activity you drag will become a child of that parent.

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Drag to move order: Change where the activity appears in the Process Timeline. Note: changing the location of the activity does not change the behavior of the Process Timeline, which is strictly governed by the rules of dependence and other activity starting conditions.

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Drag to add a dependence: Drag and drop an activity onto another to make the dragged activity dependent upon the target.

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Conditions: Click this icon to open the activity's properties on the Needed When tab.

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Properties: Click this icon to open the activity's properties on the Start When tab.

The properties for each activity are presented in a tabbed interface. Each tab groups similar properties together.

TAB

DESCRIPTION

Activity

This tab enables the user to select the Activity Type, such as a User, Custom Task, eForm Action, etc. It also contains other general activity settings.

Activity type

This tab will show specific properties that pertain to the Activity Type you select. The tab's label will change to reflect the selected Activity Type.

Start When

This tab enables you to inspect and modify the dependencies and conditions that determine when the activity will start.

Completed When

This tab enables you to inspect and modify the conditions that determine when the activity will complete. Rarely used, as most activities complete organically (such as when a user submits a form, or an automated task completes).

Needed When

This tab enables you to inspect and modify the conditions that determine if an activity will be run once its start conditions have been met. These conditions will be evaluated once when the activity becomes eligible to start.

Due Date

This tab enables you to inspect and modify the due date for the activity, and the actions to take when the activity is not completed by the due date.

Notifications

This tab enables you to configure who is notified about the activity and when notifications should be sent.

Advanced

This tab enables you to configure advanced properties, such as how the activity is assigned to

Options

user, what steps to take when a user completes the activity, etc.

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