Workflows: not so obvious stuff

Whether your content needs to be peer-reviewed, subject matter expert-reviewed, quality assurance-reviewed or all of the above BEFORE being made available to your audience, Panviva workflow is a powerful tool to make it happen. For some of our clients, in the highly regulated industries, it is the only way to publish a document. How to operate workflows is covered in great detail in our online training course. What I would like to cover here is several “sticky” points, which are less obvious and often needs clarification.
Here is a summary about terminology we, the Panviva Customer Advocacy Team, would like to adhere to pertaining to the workflow process.
• When we assign or attach a workflow to a document, we establish a document-workflow relationship. It can be done in one spot in Manager, under ‘Manual workflow settings’ within ‘Details & Actions’ of a document:

You may continue working on a document and saving it as often as necessary without the assigned workflow being in the picture. The only restriction such relationship may place on you is the ability to release a document, provided the assigned workflow has a clause enabled that the approval is required for a document to be released. Otherwise, you are free to bypass it.
• When we start a workflow, we set the abovementioned relationship in motion and create a workflow instance. Such instance is tied to a specific document version you create when starting a workflow, which you can do in two places:

  • When saving a document in Editor:
  • or selecting ‘Start review workflow now’ in the Manager interface above:

Note that this option will also create a new version of a document. Once a workflow is started, that document version cannot be released until the workflow is completed, regardless of what type of workflow it is and whether the “approval is required for a document to be released” option is enabled or disabled.

• Creating a new document revision, while the workflow instance has not been completed, will cancel (break) a workflow, because a workflow instance is only applicable to the latest document version. You will have to restart the process.

An analogy I’d like to think about is like having a single entry visa in your passport. Once you receive it, it is up to you if you would like to use it (in Panviva terms, assigning a workflow). It is not necessary for your internal travel, until you decide to visit the country the visa is for (in Panviva terms, start a workflow). Whether you stay the full term or come back earlier, you will have to re-apply for a new visa for your next visit (in Panviva terms, completing or canceling a workflow).

A specific area I would like to draw your attention to is transition from the review to approval process within the same workflow, which some people find confusing.

Think about it as a two-staged process. When you have required reviewers in your workflow, then you cannot jump to the second stage (approval), while the first stage (review) is incomplete. And if you have more than one required reviewer in a workflow, all of them must complete their part before the workflow is allowed to progress to the approval stage. If you have no required reviewers in your workflow, i.e. no reviewers at all or optional reviewers only, you will be notified at the assignment stage:

If it is as desired, then you will be able to jump straight to the approval stage.

1. For the two-staged workflow, starting an approval stage is always a manual task. The workflow will never transition from review to approval automatically. The reason behind this is to allow the owner to review the comments made by the reviewers and incorporate them into the document, if necessary. Once you are happy with the review, you can save a document for approval from the same two places in Manager as mentioned above.

2. Starting an approval stage can only occur when % complete is set to 100%. You will not see the option ‘Save for approval’ otherwise. The reason behind it is the document will get released automatically after the approver gives their tick of approval. This is only possible when a document sits at 100%. Needless to say, if the approval is rejected, that document revision will stay unreleased. And similarly to the required reviewers, if you have more than one required approver in a workflow, all of them must complete their part before the workflow is allowed to progress to release the document.