Owl   Technical Overview
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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
      • 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