I'm working on expanding our Change Notice workflow yet again. I have a situation I think will work (or is at least possible) but want to get feedback before going down this path too far.
At one stage of the CN workflow, there is a Change Manager role that will choose which downstream departments will get CN tasks for each particular CN. I've set it up using the Routing tab with a 'Manual' routing type. The intent is that the Change Manager can choose between one and four routes using check boxes in the assigned activity.
My concern is the AND collector at the tail end of these four routes. If the Change Manager chooses less than the full allotment, will the AND collector stall out the process waiting for the other paths to complete even when those other routes were not chosen by the Change Manager?
The other issue involves the Manufacturing-Engineering path (see image). If the Mfg. Eng. ECO Task has not been completed but one of the other paths does complete, will the system know to pause at that AND collector until the 'Synch on CA Complete' is resolved? Or should perhaps that 'Synch' robot be used in place of the AND collector?
Of course, I appreciate pointing out any other issues you may see.
Suggest using Change Notice Templates, especially if you have PJL installed and you can use Change Task Sequencing. Sequencing would allow you to define the Quality Tasks as Level 1, 2, 3... up to 10 levels deep. Change Notice Templates allow you to create Change Notices with different pre built Tasks.
Alternatively you could make the Choose Participants for ECO Task a Set Up Participants type with a single downstream Task to Create ECO Tasks (Define Implementation Plan) which would accomplish the same thing in a flexible way rather than hard wired.
My gut instinct is that the AND will stall out if all routings are not selected so IMO your concern is well founded.
I'd suggest that instead of Quality ECO Review as an Assigned WF Activity you use the Review of the appropriate Tasks.
Tasks that instruct to create do not guarantee that it will get done.
We don't have PJL, so no Change Task Sequencing. Plus the tasks aren't really in sequence, unless I'm reading you wrong.
I'll look into templates but I'm not hopeful.
One question, can I change the template if I get part way through the CN process and discover that yes, I do need Quality to see this CN whereas when I first created he CN I thought they didn't need to see it at all so I chose a template without Quality being involved in the process at all. (Then there is the problem of how many templates I would need to create. The picture is just a small sample of the overall CN process. The sheer number of variants I'd have to account for much higher than what this little snapshot shows.)
I skipped right past having someone set up individual change tasks for Mfg. Eng. Metallurgy, Purchasing and Quality because of the simplicity of check boxes compared to having someone go through all the steps of creating up to four Change Tasks. Plus two of the change tasks would, literally, be a single Assigned Activity with a Complete Task button.
I currently use Set Up Participants for an earlier CN Assigned Activity. It's cumbersome and clunky for choosing between two participants from a single department. IME, Set Up Participants is so poorly implemented that I'm actually exploring ways to dump it entirely. It makes all the behind-the-curtain work more involved but the ease of use for the users makes up for it.
On the one side the instructions are "Pick the check boxes and then pick Complete Task".
On the other side I have "Pick the Set Up Participants tab, check the box for Marketing Managers (group), Pick the 'Remove Participants' button, Pick the 'Add Participants button, Search for the user name, Pick Ok, Now go back to the Details tab and then pick Complete Task". Granted, I may have it set up less efficiently than is possible but I don't see any part of Set Up Participants competing in simplicity with "Pick box(es) then pick Complete Task".
Too bad about the sequencing/PJL... As I read it the CMM Task was sequenced after the Quality Task (is probably also Quality decides if CMM is required)
Use of Templates does not preclude modifications (adding/removing Change Tasks) after the fact, they do streamline the creation of typical implementation plans. If you have many permutations and combinations then you would have to create and name them and the user(s) would have a large list to select from.
What version are you on? I think I preferred Set Up Participants in 9.x to 10.2. I agree that usability could be much improved.
I like what you're doing with the routing though, and I would probably look at doing some code, probably in the complete transition to evaluate the routings and set the participants behind the scenes.
If I had to accomplish this by workflow I would look at a boolean task/process variables for each routing option set in the transition for each routing (I have not tried /tested the multiple non exclusive use case), and using a conditional node on each path to route if true (routing selected) or bypass with an OR node at the tail end of each branch. This way all paths into your AND node get followed either by functional routing or bypass.
Also worth noting... if the Manufacturing Engineering routing is not selected the Synch Robot never gets reached so the workflow will stall.
We're on 10.2.
For templates it's not just dealing with a large list and possibly confusing users. It's also the number of times I've seen a CN get started under one assumption and have that go totally sideways part way into the it. I'm leery of being locked in to one and needing to delete it and start over because of that sideways motion.
I wouldn't mind some coding in the various complete transitions. That's also a very interesting proposal about the conditional node on each path. I'm going to look into that one a little more.
I also considered just getting rid of the assigned activity 'Choose Participants for ECO' and have the flow go to all four departments. Then, at the first assigned activity in each of four branches, give the assignee two routing options; 'not applicable to our department' or 'we completed our work'. A little less elegant but it removes another possible bottleneck (delay in choosing departments, mistake in choosing/skipping departments). If I did this, the 'AND' connector at the end would be all that's needed. No coding and no worries about that synch robot causing problems, which I totally overlooked before.
Routing to all departments runs the risk of getting them tuning out due to "noise"... depends on your org culture and how far up support for Windchill goes (how motivated are participants to actually participate). If you do go this route, I'd suggest adding deadlines with skip selected so all departments have their chance to have their say and/or participate but are not able to hold things up through non-participation.
I think you'll want to move the Synch Robot to after the AND node, although you're not resolving the Change so maybe no difference.
How difficult is it to set up sequencing?
Is one license all I'll need to implement this?
It's called "sequencing" but can you confirm that tasks can run concurrently?
Can you confirm that tasks will be created automatically by Windchill without need of a user to create each implementation plan individually?
Just to confirm, if several implementation plans are running concurrently a single Synch Robot is in the CN handles them all, right?
I'll have to contact our VAR for some sort of presentation, but I'd rather get some straight answers from actual users before subjecting myself to the typical sales babble and general ability to ignore what I'm asking in search of a larger sale.
Sequencing is dead easy to set up... install PJL and enable a Preference. Unfortunately it's not as sophisticated as one might like in treating the implementation of a change as a "mini/micro-project". The way it works is all level 1 Tasks need to be completed before Level 2 Tasks (and so on) become active and trigger notifications or appear in User Home Page Tasks. This works for downstream things that need upstream deliverables (like getting a quote needs a drawing) but there is no capability (as of WC 10.2) to establish predecessor/successor relationship or behavior between specific Change Tasks. I'm your sure if this answers your concern on tasks running concurrently or not.
As far as Change Notice Templates - I was able to build one out complete with all Change Tasks and when used to create a new Change Notice, no additional work was required to create additional Change Tasks. You will want to note that specific Users need to be assigned to "Do" and "Review"... It would be nice if you could assign to a Context Team Role (could probably be done by implementing a custom picker)
Yep - the one Synch Robot in the the Change Notice evaluates all of the associated Change Tasks for completeness as specified by State. OOTB this is a State of "Resolved" for Change Tasks.
Please confirm with your VAR on licensing requirements, but as far as I understand you are correct.
I agree with Keir - dead easy.
I would also note that you can still have "unsequenced" tasks as well. Those tasks will be sent out at the same time as Level 1 tasks but are not part of the task precedence behavior. (We use this on tasks that may take a long time to complete and would not benefit from being in the process sequence.)
We have also used Change Task soft types and have them assigned to custom Context Team roles, so a large portion of our plans would automatically assign to the proper roles. This helped greatly when switching to 10.2 and starting with CN Templates. We only have to assign the users to the standard Change Task types.
Great info guys.
One point of clarification.
When you all talk about sequenced tasks, are you talking about
Assigned Activity tasks within the Change Notice
Change Activity workflow (which used to be called a Change Task workflow (IIRC)).
I'd hate to try to justify a purchase by talking about one circumstance and then have it work the other way.
Hopefully it's the ability to sequence Change Activity workflows and have them automatically fire off when the previous Level have all completed.
The sequenced tasks are Change Activity (Task) workflow tasks, the Change Activities that are created in the CN Implementation Plan. When the Labor and MDA tasks are complete, the PC and Costing tasks are sent out. When both of those are done, the Pricing task is sent out, etc. etc.
The template has the tasks and the sequence, but the Change Admin can add, delete, and alter the tasks and sequencing if needed.
In our case, the way we have things set up, each task above is a specific soft type that we created (labor, mda, pc, costing, etc.) that is assigned to a specific context role, so the Change Admin does not have to set the assignee for each task in the plan.
So, I contacted my VAR about this.
He said that I would need a PJL license for every participant that might be involved in the workflow. That's a non-starter for us. I simply can't justify dozens of licenses for something as simple as this.
(They also said something about not needing PJL to do sequenced tasks but then sent me, basically, an OOTB PDMLink workflow they put in at another company claiming it does the same thing. I find myself feeling like their knowledge is less than sufficient.)
The other thing I'm looking at is whether it's possible, with sequencing, to have a Change Task before one of the CN assigned activities, then have several different ones after the CN assigned activity. If not I suppose I could change that CN assigned activity into its own Change Task. It just feels like a big shift to strip nearly all the assigned activities out of the CN and put them into their own tiny CTs.
Are the tasks your looking at putting in more about planning the change or executing the implementation? (just curious). If more about planning then maybe they should be workflow actions. I've done some things previously to incorporate CRB (Change Review Board) and CIB (Change Implementation Board) activities into the Change Request and Change Notice workflows to formalize and document impacts analysis and implementation planning.
Your original approach can work with some tweaks to the logic. You could go with a synch robot that evaluates process variables (that get propagated from task variables, set by code in transitions) to determine if upstream tasks are exist or not and if they are complete or pending to determine whether or not to proceed)
Prior to the 'Choose Participants' assigned activity there is a CRB step.
This is the reason I'm curious about having one before and several after the CN assigned activity.
Larger picture than the snapshot I took was to have a CT early in the process, then a CRB-type activity in the CN, then multiple CTs that auto-fire after the CRB-type activity is completed by all parties. That's really what I'm after. The CTs are department based (Quality, Mfg., Purchasing, etc.) while the CRB-type evens are all in the CN.
Little late to this discussion... but why not just setup boolean variables for the tasks if you need to wait at the AND gate for the selected ones to be completed? I.e. boolean task1, task2, task3, task4 that get set based on the selection made, and then use an OR conditional to route either to the corresponding task or straight to the AND gate if it isn't necessary. You wouldn't be using routing options, you'd just display the boolean variables as attributes and then automatically firing to each of the four OR conditionals that essentially say, for example, if(metallurgy) result="Metallurgy"; else result="No"; and the routing from the OR conditionals would go to either the task that's required or to the AND gate.