One of the major new features of Enterprise PDM 2013 that I really, really like, is Parallel Workflow Transitions. If your approval process requires more than one person to sign off on a design before it can go into production, prior to EPDM 2013 you could put these people into a group then give it permissions to approve the file, or you could set up an individual state and transition for each approver (i.e. “Pending Huey Approval” followed by “Pending Dewey Approval” followed by “Pending Louie Approval”). The problem with the first approach is ANY member of the group can approve the document – once Huey signs off on it, it’s off to production with no input from anyone else. The problem with the second approach is it adds a lot of extra complication to your workflow (you’ve got to make sure the right user has access to the right steps, and notify them when it’s their turn to approve something).
Parallel Workflow Transitions is much simpler way to handle this. You just have one transition in your workflow, and you just list who gets to sign off on the file. Actually, I think a better name would be “Multiple Approver Transitions” but that’s just me.
Here is how you do it:
1. In the Administration tool, expand Workflows and double-click a workflow to open it in the Workflow editor. (Note the new appearance of the workflow itself – this is also new in 2013).
2. Click a transition to open its Transition Properties dialog box. (In this example, I am going to use the “Approved” transition).
3. From the Type pull down list, select Parallel.
Below that, you will also see a Roles tab is added to the dialog box.
4. On the Roles tab, click Add Role.
If roles have already been defined in the workflow, you can expand the Add Role button to choose from a list of existing roles.
5. In the Add Role dialog box:
a) Type a Name for the role.
b) In the Required Users field, specify how many users in the role must run the parallel transition before the file changes state.
c) Click Add Member.
6. In the Add Member dialog box:
a) Select the users or groups to add to the role. You can type a sub-string in the Filter field to display only users or groups whose names contain the sub-string.
b) Click OK.
7. Click OK again to close the Add Role dialog box.
(In the example above, I’m actually editing one I’ve created called “Group Sign Off” and shown you the members)
8. On the Permissions tab:
a) In the Name column, select the users and groups you added to the roles you created in steps 5 through 7.
b) In the left column, select Permit.(see screenshot)
9. Optionally, add a notification to the transition.
The notification can be used to inform users who need to approve the parallel
a) On the Notification tab, click Add Folder Notification.
b) Select the folder the notification applies to and click OK.
c) In the Folder Notification dialog box, on the Recipients tab, click Add Recipients.
d) In the Add recipients dialog box, select the users and groups to receive the notification and click OK.
e) Optionally, if you want to let users who run the parallel transition choose notification recipients, enable the Dynamic check box for the recipients.
10. Click OK to complete the transition and close the Transition Properties dialog box.
11. Click Save to save the change to the workflow.
So once you set this up how does it all work? Well, in this example, I have a simple assembly submitted by Homer Simpson for approval. Since we all know the quality of Homer’s work, it’s a good thing that three people are going to check it before it goes to production.
The first person to check it is Rusty Venture. Rusty logs in to the vault, navigates to the file in question and right-clicks it. Then he selects: Modify > Change State > Approved.
Note in the screenshot next to the Approved transition, it indicates the number of users who must run the transition (i.e. approve it) next to it.
As soon as he does this, the Do Transition dialog box appears and the Result column indicates that after this transition is run, two more users must perform the transition before the state of the file is changed.
Rusty verifies Change state is checked, enters a helpful comment in the Comment field and hits OK. The comment appears in the file’s history and in a History column that is added when the transition is run by other users. If dynamic notifications are enabled for the transition, you can also enter a Notification comment and select the users to notify.
Now we see the State column in the file list shows that the file did not change state.
After being notified by Rusty that his approval is needed, Wile E. Coyote logs in to the vault, navigates to the file, right-clicks and picks Modify > Change State > Editing required. (note, now it says “Approved (1/3) indicating at least one person has approved the assembly.)
The Results column in the Do Transition ‘Approved’ window now indicates that one more person must run the transition to change the state of the file.
At the bottom of the dialog box, the History field shows Wile the comments made by Rusty. Wile verifies that Change state is checked, enters his own comment and hits OK.
Now it’s the turn of the Pointy Haired Boss. Just like before, he logs into the vault, right-clicks on the file and picks Modify > Change State > Approved.
When the Do Transition dialog box appears, there are no notes in the Results column, since if the other two have approved the transition, the required number of approvals has been reached.
So all he has to do is enter a comment, click OK, and now the State column in the file list now shows that the assembly has changed state to In Production.