Applies to version: 2023 R1 and above; author: Łukasz Maciaszkiewicz
With the introduction of the 2023 R1 version, the WEBCON BPS offers a simple and convenient functionality for assigning tasks to a group of users. The system uses it to dynamically react to personal changes within the group. The functionality addresses a number of issues which staff turnover poses to business processes within a company.
This article describes the functionality of assigning tasks to a group of users and discusses its main features.
Assigning tasks to a group vs assigning tasks to group members
The previous approach for assigning tasks to a group involved directly assigning tasks to each group member. It assumed that tasks would remain active until they were completed (or ended by an administrator). This meant that users could still execute tasks even after leaving the group, such as by moving to a different department within the company. This approach is no longer the default one, but you can still apply it by checking the Assign tasks for groups directly to group members checkbox (process name→ the “Settings” tab → the “Assign tasks for groups directly to group members” checkbox).
The “Assign tasks for groups directly to group members” option
Assigning tasks to a group is a new, default (does not require enabling in the Designer Studio configuration) approach applied in the WEBCON BPS system. It entails assigning tasks not to individual group members, but to a group as a whole. As a result, a person who leaves a group cannot execute a task assigned to that group. This principle also applies the other way around, i.e. when a new person joins the group, they gain access to the tasks assigned to the it. What is important – depending on the configuration – a task assigned to a group is considered executed when completed by any group member.
In both cases (assigning tasks to a group and assigning tasks directly to group members) it is possible to enable the sending e-mail notifications functionality to inform a group member about receiving a task. To do that, check the Send standard e-mail checkbox available under the “Task creation” tab (step edition → the “Paths” tab → the “Task creation” tab → “Send standard e-mail”).
Tasks assigned to a group are displayed in the task counter of the group members and included in the My Tasks list. Using this list, a user can open such a task.
Additionally, the information on assigning a task to a group is displayed in the Assigned to field in the user information panel. If user who is logged in Portal belongs to the group assigned with a task, the group’s name is put in bold.
The “My Tasks” list (in the red frame) includes tasks assigned to a group. The information about assigning a task to a group is presented in the form in the “Assigned to” field (the blue frame).
The information on task execution is also available in the history after clicking the History button (the clock icon above the user information panel) and then clicking the icon of a selected step. The screen tip displayed below the icon provides information on people and groups assigned with the task. In the case of groups, the names of group members who executed the task are presented below the group name.
What is more, it is worth noting that once the task is executed, the group members can still display the instance in the read-only mode. However, it will not be available to users who left the group and, conversely, a person who joins the group after the task is executed is able to display the abovementioned instance in the read-only mode.
The information on the group member who executed the task is presented indented below the group name.
The GROUP MEMBERS business rule
The assigning tasks to groups functionality applies to the whole process and all instances run within its framework. Nevertheless, it is possible to apply locally a different approach, i.e. assigning tasks directly to group members. To this end, the WEBCON BPS provides the GROUP MEMBERS rule. By using the BPS_ID, the rule obtains data on all members of a group (this also includes members belonging to any eventual subgroups nested within the group). The user list is returned as a collection of values, i.e. ID#Name, separated with a semicolon.
To use the rule, check the Business Rule checkbox (step edition → the “Paths” tab → the “Task creation” tab → the “Business Rule” checkbox) and delete the default “USERS” rule (right-click it and choose the “DELETE” option from the drop-down menu). Next, using the expression editor (the ellipsis icon), insert the “GROUP MEMBERS” rule and enter the group for which the task is to be assigned directly to members.
The “GROUP MEMBERS” rule entered in the “Task creation” tab
Configuration of assigning tasks to a group functionality
Although assigning tasks to a group currently constitutes the default approach in the WEBCON BPS system, there is a number of issues to consider when configuring tasks.
In the Operation executed on parallel tasks field (the step edition window → the “Paths” tab → the “Parameters” tab) you can configure the system behavior on transiting a given path. After clicking the drop-down list you choose from three available options:
Once the specified number of tasks is executed, the tasks assigned to a group and users outside of it are marked as cancelled.
NOTE: if one user is a member of two groups assigned with a task and executes that task, it is considered executed by both groups. This situation has implications for calculating the number of required completed tasks (the system recognizes two tasks as completed).
The “Operation executed on parallel tasks” option allows users to define system behavior on path transition.
Note that when a task is assigned to a group and separately to its member, the system assigns it both to the particular user and the group. Nevertheless, once the task is executed by that user, the system marks both the user’s task and the group’s task as executed.
Once a task assigned to a group is executed by one of its members, the information on the user who executed it is saved in the respective data base column and the task itself is marked as executed. What is more – depending on the configuration – the execution of the task by one of the group members makes the task inactive for the remaining people in the group, although it was not executed by them.
Please note that after the task assigned to the group has been executed, every time other group member follows the same path the instance is saved.
NOTE: adding a flag to the task in the form by one of the group members, means that this information will be also visible for all other group members.
Once a flag is added to an instance, it is visible to all group members
If any group member approves a task using the MailApproval functionality, the task will be approved in the system.
Active substitution and assigning tasks to groups
The assigning tasks to groups functionality does not support the substitutions with automatic task delegation. In this case a person who substitutes a group member will not gain access to the task assigned to the group.
The assigning tasks to groups functionality supports the task delegation function. This means that once a group member delegates a task to a different user (also a user outside of the group), that user can execute it and the system marks the task itself as executed by a group member. Additionally, it is possible to delegate a task to a particular group. In that situation, any group member can execute the task.
The reports include all tasks related to a user, including those assigned to groups to which they belong. To facilitate finding information on tasks, the Active tasks filter (the “Assignment filter” field) has additional specific filter Assigned tasks that displays information on tasks assigned directly to a user and tasks assigned to groups to which they belong.
New data base tables
The implementation of the assigning task to group functionality has been accompanied by the introduction of separation of data base table into two tables: HistoryTasks and ActiveTasks. The first table is the previous WFElementTasks table which used to contain all system tasks. As the table now includes only information on historical (inactive) tasks, its current name (“HistoryTasks”) is supposed to reflect the new reality. All active tasks are moved to a newly created table “ActiveTasks”. While this modification generally does not bring changes relevant to end users, it does improve the overall system performance and speed, particularly in the case of large databases.
The new approach to assigning tasks to groups of users responds to the needs of dynamically evolving labor market. It helps companies to easily manage staff workflows both inside and outside the organization. While preserving the option allowing users to apply the previous approach, the new functionality focuses on simplifying process configuration as much as possible.