Technology Positioning Statement Report

3.3.2 Workflow Systems

Description: Software and services for automated structuring and scheduling of work to conform to actual business processes, with the support of other collaborative services such as document management and electronic mail.

Category: 3 - Communication Technologies   Subcategory: 2 - Enterprise Communication Tools
Old Category: End-User Tools Workgroup Computing Workflow




Industry UsageSC Usage

Performance Metrics

functional requirements; flexibility; ease of programming; ease of use and reuse; standards compliance.

Usage and Dependencies

Industry Position: "As unstructured content and e-business become inextricably linked, companies must start managing unstructured content with the same discipline they have established for managing structured data. Organizations embarking on a corporatewide document management (DM) implementation or companies shifting from a departmental or line-of-business focus to an enterprisewide approach to DM should develop corporatewide strategies and policies for the technical aspects of managing documents.

The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) is the standards body working on interoperability between heterogeneous workflow engines, and XML holds great promise for exchanging the data required for workflow interoperability.

Alternatively, some business-units may not need workflow capabilities embedded in their DM system because their focus is primarily on storage and retrieval. If this is the case, the corporate guidelines should identify when it is more appropriate to use high-end, workflow-enabled products and when it is more advantageous to opt for less complex DM systems. In some purely archival situations, records management (RM) products can be used instead of workflow-enabled DM systems that focus on the authoring, review and approval process in addition to document storage and retrieval.

Stand-alone workflow products can also be bought separately from the DM system and closely integrated with the document repository. Explore the advantages of using a stand-alone system and provide advice on this option. In general, it is better to use a workflow-enabled DM product than to buy best-of-breed DM and workflow products for subsequent integration.

Security: Develop policies and mechanisms for maintaining multiple security levels, based on specific criteria. At the most basic level, security for DM systems is at two levels: authentication/validation and permission setting. Authentication/validation determines whether an individual has access to the DM system. When establishing user profiles, it is helpful if information stored in the corporate directory can be used to populate the user information in the DM system. Many, but not all, DM systems are integrated with corporate directories for this purpose." Building Blocks for Establishing a Document Management Strategy: Part 2 Connie Moore, Contributing Analysts: Lou Agosta, Dick Fisher, Daniel Rasmus Nov 1, 2000, Giga.

Grizzly is the code name for a workflow- and process-automation tool that will ship with a future version of Microsoft Office 2000 Developer Edition. If Microsoft succeeds at the adoption of Grizzly, it could eliminate the low end, administrative segment of the workflow market by making the technology a ubiquitous operating system component. Simple routing, though, retains issues around administration, modeling, maintenance and scalability. It remains to be seen if Microsoft has innovated here or just released another simple routing tool. The fact that Grizzly will be part of Office and not a BackOffice component indicates a workgroup-centric approach.

E-business will be the driving force behind growth in workflow, with workflow continuing to be absorbed into Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) middleware offerings. Key Trends for 2001: Information and Knowledge Management, Daniel Rasmus, Giga.

[Identify all standards applicable to DM implementations, including open standards, industry standards and vendor standards.]

SC Usage: The Eastman Workflow for Windows NT product previously purchased has been found to offer limited workflow functionality despite its high cost. Since any workflow system must necessarily be programmed to fit the business process, this may be an appropriate target for custom development.

SC has adopted Microsoft Office 2000 as its suite of authoring and editing tools for all users. It is now feasible to use the document management and workflow features in Office 2000 (Office Server Extensions) as the basis for developing a general-purpose DM system and special-purpose workflow applications.

SC Application Architecture Impact: Concurrence Routing and Document Management require workflow functionality. The development of SCIP as a Web interface to SC systems will also support workflow.

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