How to Design your First Laserfiche Workflow

How to Design your First Laserfiche Workflow

Learn how to get started with Laserfiche Workflow without being intimidated with advice from Amy Johnson, Systems Administrator at Hanover County’s Commissioner’s Office.

Contributed by:Amy Johnson, Systems Administrator, Hanover County

As the Systems Ad­min­is­tra­tor in the Com­mis­sioner of the Revenue’s Office, I de­signed and im­ple­mented the de­part­ment’s work­flows myself. (The IT de­part­ment at Hanover County only pro­vides support.) Here are some of my strate­gies for plan­ning, de­sign­ing and im­ple­ment­ing your very first Laser­fiche Work­flow.

I know it can seem scary, but you can do it!

Before you start de­sign­ing

1. Sit down and make a list of ideas of processes within your de­part­ment or or­ga­ni­za­tion that you would like to au­to­mate. Re­mem­ber to start simple.

“Some­times the small work­flow is as im­por­tant as the big, flashy one.”Our first work­flow dealt with ob­tain­ing Statu­tory As­sess­ment Work­sheets, routing them to man­agers for ap­proval and then routing them to the records folders for storage and re­ten­tion.

2. De­ter­mine the goal of your work­flow. Your goal should be spe­cific. In my case, it was, “I would like to elim­i­nate re­dun­dant print­ing of Statu­tory As­sess­ment Work­sheets.” Ask your­self if you are au­tomat­ing a process or trying to solve a problem.

  • If you see or ex­pe­ri­ence an actual break­down in the ef­fi­ciency of the current process, then you should first solve the problem before au­tomat­ing the process.

3. Do your re­search and take ad­van­tage of the mul­ti­tude of re­sources avail­able to all Laser­fiche users:

  • The Capture Work­flow Cer­ti­fied Pro­fes­sional Program course taught me how to ap­proach plan­ning, di­a­gram­ming and de­sign­ing my work­flows.
  • The many white papers avail­able on the Support Site provide spe­cific details on various aspects of the work­flow design process.
  • Your VAR is also an ex­cel­lent re­source. I put my VAR on speed dial and called them when­ever I ran into prob­lems or lost my con­fi­dence.

Diagram your process

Once you’ve de­ter­mined the process and the goal and ed­u­cated your­self on work­flow design, it is time to ac­tu­ally diagram the process.

  1. Gather all of the stake­hold­ers in one place and come up with a diagram of how the busi­ness process should look. When de­sign­ing my first work­flow, I invited the man­agers who are re­spon­si­ble for ap­prov­ing the Statu­tory As­sess­ment Work­sheets as well as the di­vi­sion manager to join me. I drew out the whole process on a piece of paper and we dis­cussed all of the de­tailed steps to­gether, going into such specifics as how the manager would prefer to approve the work­sheets (with a tem­plate field or a per­sonal stamp).
  2. Re­mem­ber that it is ok to change or revise current processes in order to make your work­flows as ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble. Some­times you may think that the process works one way, but in reality, there are certain steps you may have skipped.                                                                                                                                                                         “Time spent di­a­gram­ming upfront will more than pay itself back later.”
  3. It is im­por­tant that you do not skimp on the plan­ning phase. The more you put into the actual design of the session, the better the end result. When con­struct­ing my work­flows, I spend more time plan­ning than ac­tu­ally de­sign­ing.

Design the work­flow

Once you have fi­nal­ized your actual diagram and gone through as many changes as nec­es­sary, it is time to stat de­sign­ing your actual work­flow.

Laser­fiche Work­flow in­cludes a mul­ti­tude of pre-de­signed, user-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties. Here are some things to keep in mind when de­sign­ing your work­flow:

  • You must have Work­flow De­signer ac­tu­ally in­stalled on your com­puter or on the com­puter where you want to design the work­flow.
  • It is a best prac­tice to create a user account for Laser­fiche Work­flow in the Ad­min­is­tra­tion Console. This user will be the one per­form­ing all of the au­to­mated tasks when the work­flows ac­tu­ally run.

One of the most im­por­tant parts of de­sign­ing work­flows is spec­i­fy­ing the start­ing rules—what con­di­tions will invoke the work­flow. When setting up your start­ing rules, make sure to follow these guide­lines:

  • Exclude the Work­flow user from being able to ini­ti­ate work­flows in order to prevent “runaway work­flows” – work­flows that that keep ini­ti­at­ing them­selves in an endless loop.
  • Make the entry type (doc­u­ment, folder, etc.) and path as spe­cific as pos­si­ble in order to prevent the work­flow from start­ing when you do not want it to.

Re­mem­ber, if you start de­sign­ing and lose your con­fi­dence, just call your VAR for help. I ac­tu­ally hired my VAR to come and sit with me for the day while I de­signed my first work­flow. Just having him there boosted my con­fi­dence.

  • Design as much as you want since you can always delete and start over.
  • Don’t be afraid to publish what you’ve de­signed. You must first publish the work­flow before cre­at­ing the start­ing rule.

The most im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is:

“Test and test again—even VARs need a few tries to get things working 100%.”  

I had to test my first work­flow at least 15 times before I got it to work exactly as I wanted. You can create sample doc­u­ments and then run them through the work­flow as you are de­sign­ing it to make sure that the work­flow func­tions as ex­pected. It is much safer to test on sample doc­u­ments than actual live data.

Now that you’ve com­pleted your first work­flow

Unveil your first work­flow to your users, as well as your boss. Make sure you don’t tell them that it wasn’t that hard to create.

  • Be pre­pared to revise this work­flow as needed. Simply make the changes you want in the Laser­fiche Work­flow De­signer and re­pub­lish until you are fully sat­is­fied. After my first work­flow went live, I had to revise some of the e-mail ac­tiv­i­ties because, after seeing the actual process in action, we de­ter­mined that they could be op­ti­mized.
  • Pat your­self on the back and move on to the next one! Come up with a list of processes you want to au­to­mate and tackle them one by one.