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Owl   Technical Overview

Owl Technical Overview



Technical overview of OWL (Oper Workflow Light) a lightweight workflow tool.

Technical overview of OWL (Oper Workflow Light) a lightweight workflow tool.



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    Owl   Technical Overview Owl Technical Overview Presentation Transcript

    • OWL: Open Workflow Light A technical overview
    • Workflow and business processes
      • There are many processes and tasks that have the need for some kind of workflow
        • E.g. Insurance claims, New customer processes, Call centres
      • We contrast workflow with task management in that:
        • workflow always involves more than one person, and
        • there are often decisions or rules as to where the work item should next go
        • Traditional workflow has previously worked well in industries with well-defined processes and organisational structures
      • Workflow is often represented by Business Process Modelling (BPM) or Workflow applications
        • Most of the major vendors and many specialist vendors have a workflow or BPM offering
        • These are often very expensive and always have a large footprint
      • We think there is another simpler and cheaper way
        • We acknowledge OWL is not suitable for all situations but believe it is applicable to a large number of cases
        • Read our non-technical interview at http://www.truenorth.gb.com/products/owl
    • Typical workflow design and implementation
      • The workflow is usually modelled in the tool by a Business Analyst
        • Involves identifying steps, roles, and conditions for moving between steps
      • The IT department deploy the modelled workflow on to a server running the workflow application
        • This may involve data migration from old workflow processes
      • The business users interact with the workflow
      • The workflow engine
        • Determines the state change of the process
        • Notifies users of actions
    • OWL: Open Workflow Light
      • OWL was developed to meet the gap in a simple workflow tool. Its key principles are below:
      • The user knows best
        • The user best knows how and where to route items in the process and they not the workflow tool should not dictate where the task goes
      • Keep a full audit trail
        • It’s more important to understand what has happened to a task rather than where it will go.
        • Not only might this be needed for regulatory compliance but it can also aid a user in deciding what to do next
      • Fit in with the users’ working methods
        • The tool should integrate with the end users’ working methods not the other way around
    • Workflow Functional Architecture
      • Most workflow solutions support the following as a minimum set of functions. The sub-bullets are examples of features in those functions rather than an exhaustive list:
      • Define
        • Design and edit workflow templates.
        • Identify the users and roles in the process and apply to the templates
      • Act
        • Create and manage the state of workflow instances
        • Migrate processes from one definition to another
      • Notify
        • Let workflow participants know when they have actions to perform
        • Allow flows of interest (sometimes instances of interest) to be watched
      • Monitor
        • Examine the workflow for bottlenecks and potential improvements
        • Report on the metrics of process enactment
    • OWL: Functional architecture
      • DEFINE
        • Search and tagging seen as more important in letting users classify and find instances
        • NO PROCESS DEFINITION. Processes defined by users’ actions not by the application
      • ACT
        • Simple state management and listener-style approach to notification
        • Audit trail allows users to infer and understand business process
      • NOTIFY
        • Integrate with tools that the users has access to and understands
        • Don’t make the user learn the application but instead fit in with existing standards
      • MONITOR
        • Dashboard and metrics with simple reports are mandatory
        • Provide the means to hook up alerting (via API and also by integrating with microblogging & chat apps)
    • Integrating with OWL: How and why
      • All functions exposed through Java API
        • Greatest cross-platform support
        • APIs designed for extension so advanced users can add features
      • Most functions exposed through HTTP API
        • Allows OWL to be accessed as a remote service – i.e. Where workflow is part of the solution not the whole solution
      • Notification and alerting supported through SMS, Email, and XMPP (chat)
        • Provides the greatest flexibility for the end user
      • All data exportable via CSV
        • For maximum portability with BI tools and custom applications
      Slide Methods of integrating with OWL
    • OWL: Design principles
      • Partition vertically
        • Separate modules for each of the functional areas (Definition, Action, Notification, Monitoring)
        • Minimise dependencies between modules
        • Allows them to be switched out / replaced more easily
      • Partition horizontally
        • Code to interfaces to enable layers to be switched (e.g. Traditional relational store to be switched in)
      • Hide implementation detail for “pure” consumers
        • Provide full integration but hide Java implementation (through HTTP interface)
      • Hide data model in API
        • Data model is exposed only through its export format (CSV) and the actions that can be taken on objects
        • Allows data model to be changed or enhanced more easily
      • Minimize data held in cookies or sessions
        • Make it easier to replicate and scale by minimizing session-specific data
    • Contact us
      • Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to use or extend Open Workflow Light
      • We’re also interested in any feedback you might have on this presentation or OWL
      • web: www.truenorth.gb.com/products/owl
      • email: [email_address]
      • twitter: truenorth_buzz