Tutorial 8: Defining Workflow to Route Issues and Assign Tasks Automatically

This tutorial takes about 30 minutes and is intended primarily for project managers and system administrators.

The workflow defined for an issue topic determines what happens to issues about that topic when they are created, the states that they must subsequently pass through and the tasks that must be completed for each state. Workflow is discussed in the Ketura Tour Step 8: Workflow.

This tutorial covers:

  • Topics and their relation to workflow;
  • Ensuring new issues are always reviewed by someone;
  • Defining allowable issue state transitions to enforce your organization’s processes;
  • Assigning work automatically when an issue changes state.

Scenario

This tutorial assumes that you have the example database installed. This database illustrates various Ketura concepts applied to a fictional firm, XYZ, Inc.

The desired workflow for an issue will typically depend on what the issue is about. For example, what should happen to an issue about a company website will be different from what happens to a an issue relating to a company’s internal procedures. In Ketura, a distinct workflow can be defined for each issue topic. All the issues about a particular topic therefore have the same workflow.

Many organizations define processes or procedures for handling various types of situation. In Ketura, a particular procedure can be represented by creating a topic for it and then configuring that topic’s workflow. Various states can be created to represent stages in the process; the allowable transitions between states (defined by the workflow) ensure that the desired path through the process is followed. As each stage in the process is completed, a user changes the issue’s state accordingly and, if the workflow associates a task set with the new issue state, Ketura automatically adds its tasks to the issue.

XYZ wishes to define some workflow in relation to its quality management system (QMS). A project to manage the QMS was created in Tutorial 4: Using Projects to Achieve Long-Term Goals On-time and Within Budget, and that tutorial must be completed before commencing this one.

1. Create a topic for issues about the QMS

Workflow is configured upon issue topics. Since a unique workflow is needed for issues relating to the ‘Implement Quality Management System’ project, it follows that a new topic is needed.

A note about automatically created issue topics

Unless you uncheck the Automatically create a topic and workflow for this project checkbox on the New project details tab of the Add New Project page, Ketura will automatically create a new topic when you create a new project. The automatically created issue topic will have the same name as the new project. Furthermore, Ketura will have configured the workflow for the topic so that any new issues about that topic will be added automatically to your new project’s ‘O1 – Review New Issues (ongoing)’ milestone. This means that you don’t have to worry about creating new issue topics manually, or about workflow, unless you desire more fine-grained control over your system.

It is therefore quite likely that a new topic was automatically created for your ‘Implement Quality Management System’ project. However, for the purposes of this tutorial, we will assume that one was not. This will enable you to understand how to create and configure topics of your own.

Create the new topic

  • Ensure that you are logged onto the example database as Eric Samet, a partner at XYZ. Eric’s log on id is ‘es’, and the password for this account is the same as the password for the ‘admin’ account that was provided during the installation of the Ketura server.
  • Click the global System navigation tab, click the Global Issue Settings link, then select the Topics page tab.
  • Click the New… button. The Add New Topic page appears.
  • Enter Quality Management System in the Topic name field.
  • Enter All issues relating to the QMS in the Description field.
  • Choose General [Miscellaneous activity] in the Copy settings from drop-down list box.
  • Click the Apply button.
  • You are returned to the Global Issue Settings page.

2. Configure the new topic’s workflow

The new topic has been created, with its settings and workflow copied from the ‘General’ topic. Its workflow must now be tailored.

  • Follow the Manage Workflow and Task Sets link at the top left of the tab.
  • Click the Configure Workflow of the ‘Quality Management System’ row of the issue topics table.
  • The Configure Workflow for Issues of Topic Quality Management System page appears.

Ensure a task to review the issue is added to each new issue

XYZ has decided that QMS-related issues should be reviewed by Eric Samet, the partner in charge of the quality management process.

Information Reviewing a new issue involves deciding what to do with it. For example, should the issue by rejected? Is the issue a duplicate of another? To which milestone should the issue be added?

Before this workflow can be configured, a new task set containing the desired task must first exist.

  • Screenshot showing the completed Add New Task Set pageGo to the Manage Workflow and Task Sets page: global System navigation tab > [‘Administration areas tab’ > , ‘Manage Workflow and Task Sets’] link.

  • Click the New… button on the Task sets tab to go to the Add New Task Set page.

  • Enter Quality Management System in the Category entry field.

  • Enter [Workflow] Review a new QMS issue in the Summary entry field.

  • In the Notes field, enter:

This task set is added automatically to new issues of the ‘Quality Management System’ topic by the workflow that uses it. This means that Eric Samet is tasked with reviewing all new issues about that topic.
* Click the Apply button. You will be taken to the Configure Task Set page.

  • Select the Tasks tab.

  • Click the New… button to go to the Add New Task for Task Set page.

  • Enter Review new issue in the Summary entry field.

  • Select es [Eric Samet] from the Assigned to drop-down list box.

  • Enter 5m in the Planned work field.

  • Click the Apply button to add the task to the task set.

Having created the ‘[Workflow] Review a new QMS issue’ task set, we now need to configure the ‘Quality Management System’ issue topic such that when a new issue is created, the task set is automatically added to it.

  • Click the System navigation tab.
  • Click the Manage Workflow and Task Sets link on the Administration areas tab.
  • Follow the Configure Workflow link for the ‘Quality Management System’ issue topic on the Workflow tab. The Configure Workflow for Issues of Topic Quality Management System page appears.
  • Select the State behaviour tab.
  • Locate the row for the ‘New’ state within the When Issue Enters State column.
  • Select the [Workflow] Review a new QMS issue task set (under Quality Management System) from the ‘New’ state’s row Add Tasks From Task Set column.
  • Click the Apply button.

Screenshot showing the completed ‘State behaviour’ tab

At this point, every new issue for the ‘Quality Management System’ topic will have a task assigned to Eric Samet for him to review the new issue.

Ensure that new QMS issues are added to the appropriate milestone of the ‘Implement Quality Management System’ project

Although new QMS issues now have a task on them, they will not yet be added to milestone ‘O1 – Review New Issues (ongoing)’ of the ‘Implement Quality Management System’ project. This step is necessary to schedule the issue, so that Eric will see the issue’s task in his Pending task list. It is easily accomplished.

  • Screenshot showing the completed ‘New issues’ tabSelect the New issues tab.
  • Select the O1 – Review New Issues (ongoing) milestone of the Implement Quality Management System project from the Automatically add new issues to milestone drop-down list box.
  • Click the Apply button.

Use issue state transitions to enforce a process or procedure

XYZ wishes to ensure that if an issue is resolved or rejected, its state can only then be changed back to ‘New’. This will mean that a new review task for Eric Samet will automatically be added to the issue. Thus, re-opened issues will be processed in the same way as newly created ones. XYZ also wishes to restrict the states that QMS-related issues can be in to just ‘In Progress’, ‘New’, ‘Rejected’ and ‘Resolved’. Finally, it wants to ensure that a ‘New’ issue can not transition to ‘Resolved’, except via ‘In Progress’.

  • Select the Issue state transitions tab.
  • If possible, make your browser window wide enough so that each row of allowable state transitions in the displayed table fits on a single line in the display. In this way, the allowable state transitions form an easily-comprehended grid.

Screenshot showing the completed Issue state transitions tab

  • For the From State row ‘Awaiting Test’: uncheck all Allow Transitions To States checkboxes.
  • For the From State row ‘Deferred’: uncheck all Allow Transitions To States checkboxes.
  • For the From State row ‘Duplicate’: uncheck all Allow Transitions To States checkboxes.
  • For the From State row ‘In Progress’: ensure that only the Allow Transitions To States checkboxes for states ‘New’ and ‘Resolved’ are checked.
  • For the From State row ‘New’: ensure that only the Allow Transitions To States checkboxes for states ‘In Progress’ and ‘Rejected’ are checked.
  • For the From State row ‘Not Reproducible’: uncheck all Allow Transitions To States checkboxes.
  • For the From State row ‘Pending Resolution’: uncheck all Allow Transitions To States checkboxes.
  • For the From State row ‘Rejected’: ensure that only the Allow Transitions To States checkbox for the state ‘New’ is checked.
  • For the From State row ‘Resolved’: ensure that only the Allow Transitions To States checkbox for the state ‘New’ is checked.
  • Click the Apply button to save the changes. Only the desired transitions will now be allowed.

4. Assign work automatically when an issue changes state

This tutorial has shown how to have a simple task set added to new issues of a particular issue topic. Much more sophisticated workflows than this can be created. For example, different task sets can be added to an issue when it enters different states. Each added task set can also contain multiple tasks, possibly assigned to different people. Nevertheless, the basic procedure for configuring such a workflow is merely a variation on that outlined above for adding a task set when the issue enters the ‘New’ state (that is, when it is created). It is not therefore necessary to discuss it in detail here.

  • The ‘Asset Tracking System’ topic has a more sophisticated workflow already configured.
  • To explore this: global System navigation tab > Manage Workflow and Task Sets link > Configure Workflow link for the ‘Asset Tracking System’ > State behaviour tab.
  • Observe that a task set is added when the issue enters the ‘New’, ‘Pending Resolution’ and ‘Awaiting Test’ states.
  • To explore the task sets involved, follow the Manage Workflow and Task Sets link at the top of the tab.

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