Secretary’s office – A sample workflow

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Applies to version 8.3.x; Author: Łukasz Chechelski

 

1.      Introduction

WEBCON BPS is a complex solution for many different areas of a company. The following article presents a use case, where the workflow is intended for the secretary’s office staff. The diagram of the workflow can be seen below:

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Fig 1 Workflow diagram

 

In this imaginary company, the Staff of the secretary’s office is tasked with registering the incoming cost invoices. In order to streamline the everyday workload, a feature was implemented to connect the scan of a paper invoice with the corresponding electronic workflow element. To prepare such a process, we need to have the following configured elements:

  • Barcode printer (e.g. Zebra) – This device prints barcodes on rectangular stickers, paper document scans and electronic workflow elements will be paired based on this barcode. The procedure of installing a barcode printer has been described in another article: Barcode printer installation on our technical blog.
  • HotFolder – The Network Share item, where the scanner will automatically deposit the scanned invoice documents. The procedure of configuring this feature can be found in the article: HotFolder – adding scanned files to a process on our technical blog.
  • Scanner – This device should be able to send the scan of a document directly to a designate Network Share location. It is recommended to scan documents in grayscale.

 

2.      Process configuration

There is a new feature in version 8.3 which allows the workflow elements to be numbered (document signature) separately for each value of a chosen form field. In this case, the company has two centers of operation – one in Krakow (SKRK) and one in Katowice (SKTO). Depending on where the document is registered the document signature will be different, e.g.:

  • FK/2016/SKRK/1
  • FK/2016/SKRK/2
  • FK/2016/SKTO/1

 

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Fig 2 The format of n document signature, where the numbering is conducted separately for a form field value.

 

The next step would be to configure the action for printing a barcode. Place it on the path leading to the “Wait for a scan” step. The printing pattern is defined in Eltron Programming Language. The sticker may be designed using the “Zebra Designer” program, which is distributed by the printer’s manufacturer. The sticker label will be printed on the device associated with the active user, who clicks the “Register” workflow path. If the user is not included in the Document entry point configuration, nothing will be printed.

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Fig 3 Configuration screen of the Print Barcode action

 

In this particular scenario, one user on the “Registration” step will designate another user who will be responsible for completing the invoice form according to the attached scan. When the “Register” path is clicked, the system will print a sticker. The specified employee of the secretary’s office must then retrieve the sticker, apply it to the paper invoice, then scan the invoice sending the resulting file to the defined HotFolder.

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Fig 4 The form on the ‘Registration’ step, the user starting the workflow element defines a worker of the secretaries office

 

It is possible to register multi-page invoices. In order to do so, the barcode must be applied only on the first page of the paper document. The application will recognize the other pages of the invoice based on the date they were added to the HotFolder. In the configuration, it is important to notify the system that there may be scans with missing/mismatched barcodes, and that they should be bundled together with the last recognized file with a barcode:

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Fig 5 The “Add to previous file” setting will ensure that multi-page invoices are handled correctly

 

After registering a document, it will reside in the “Wait for a scan” step. This is a system step, where the workflow element awaits being paired with a scanned document. After being matched, the scan is added to the workflow element as an attachment, and the whole invoice element is moved along the path set as ‘default’ – in this case, it is “Forward”

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Fig 6 The scanned document appears as an attachment on the workflow element.

 

Next, on the verification step, an employee is responsible for filling out the form based on the information found in the attachment. The application was prepared in a way, as to make it possible to view the PDF file and form fields simultaneously. When working on multiple monitors, the user may display the attachment on a different monitor. This may make the task easier, and increase the speed with which attachments are processed.

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Fig 7 View of the form in the “Verification” step.

 

The completed workflow element is sent to the user’s superior for approval. The supervisor is selected is based on Active Directory. It is also possible to specify the supervisor based on some other structure e.g. SQL Grid or SharePoint list. In the “Acceptance” step, the form fields are in “read-only” mode but, the supervising user can still view the attachment in order to verify the data entered into the form fields. If any irregularities are detected, the element is sent back to be corrected. If the element contains correct values, it is sent down the “Archive” path.

 

3.      Summary

The WEBCON BPS system is a flexible product, capable of being adapted to fit the needs of any modern business. Thanks to its modular build, it is possible to endlessly implement new segments as the company expands or market circumstances change. This scenario shown above may not seem very complex at first glance, containing very few steps and the minimal amount of actions and paths. However, despite its simplicity, the workflow shown here has extremely high potential for future development – here are some of the many ways in which it can be expanded:

  • OCR AI – A mechanism that automatically recognizes the text layer of an attachment and enters found values into the specified form fields. Advanced artificial neural networks allow the system to learn the layout of documents that it commonly encounters, making it faster and more accurate with every attachment that it processes.
  • HotMailbox – A specially designed inbox that can launch new workflow elements based on the contents of messages it receives. For example, it is possible to start a separate workflow element for every attachment that was included in an email message – the attachment itself will also be added to the new workflow element.
  • Integration – With actions like “Invoke a Web Service”, it is possible to interact with external systems like SAP or Enova. The interface is invoked based on the specified WSDL file.
  • Advanced approver selection – The “Choose an approver” action can be used to define a set of rules and conditions to find an appropriate approver for the user in question.
  • Mobile app – Starting with version 8.2, the mobile app named WEBCON BPS 2015 has been made available for users. It allows you to browse, create and manage workflow elements in the system using any mobile device that supports Android, iOS or Windows Phone.
  • MailApproval – This mechanism is used for traversing workflow paths (moving elements around the workflow) using email messages. The configuration allows you to define steps, paths and keywords to which the system should react.
  • Outlook Add-In – This Add-in designed to operate with Microsoft Outlook allows users to handle workflow elements from their mailbox.
  • Advanced reports – WEBCON BPS is a system created for the Microsoft SharePoint environment, therefore it natively supports Reporting Services technology developed by Microsoft.

 

4.      Useful links:

Many individual components mentioned in this article have been covered in detail elsewhere on our technical blog. You may find some of the following links useful:

 

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