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Setting up parallel approval transitions in EnterprisePDM 2013 Workflows

Tuesday June 11, 2013 at 3:12pm
Many of the processes we map in EPDM for the approval and changing of documents run in a serial fashion with the files moving from one person / state to the next. This is great but can result in bottlenecks when multiple approvers are required for certain activities. One of the great enhancements in EnterprisePDM 2013 was the new ‘Parallel Transition’ within the (fully redesigned) Workflow editor.
Let us take a simple process for the Release of an Engineering Document.  In order to be fully approved for release it must be ‘Approved’ by Engineering, Operations and Quality. As a serial process it could look something like the image below with each approver in sequence. This works fine, but if Operations or Engineering Managers are not available then Quality must wait for their return, even if he will be refusing that request as soon as he gets it.
Serial Workflow process
In 2012 and earlier releases it was possible to model a parallel approval process using DataCard variables to check and record when an approval was granted, returning the file to a single ‘pending’ state until the Workflow logic dictated that all approvals had been received. This (as shown below)  uses a temporary state that has two ‘automatic’ transitions from; one the file follows if all approvals have been granted (based on variables being set by the approvals), the other route the file follows if any of the approvals have not been granted. Again this works, but is limited with respect to the need to use variables on the datacard for each ‘approver’ and a unique transition for each in the Workflow itself.
2012 Logic based parallel Workflow
With 2013 and the new Parallel Transition we can simply use a single transition with associated Roles (users) and a rule that says how many ‘approvals’ are required from each Role. This allows us to configure the same workflow to allow for the file to be released with only 2 out of the 3 approvals granted.
After resetting the Workflow to a more simple design let us look at the properties of the ‘Approval Granted’ transition.
2013 Workflow before editing
Enable ‘Authentication’ if you require each user to enter their password when executing the transition. Change the Transition type to Parallel.
Transition Properties #1
We now have a new Tab named Roles available to us and we shall define three roles, one for Engineering Approval, one for Operations and one for Quality. In each I can choose to add one or more individuals and select if all or just a certain number must approve.
Click Add Role to create the Role and add the Users
Defining a Role and adding Members
Once you name the Role, Add Members before finally defining how many of those Members are required to action the Transition. I have added 3 Users but only 1 user being required for Engineering Approval to be given.
In my example I will repeat with the Operations and Quality Roles defining that in each a single User must approve, so to get fully approved the file must be approved by one person from each Role.
Defined Roles
Next, we must also be sure to allow the Members from each Role permission to use the Transition.
The remaining steps would not have changed from EPDM 2012 so continue to add any Conditions, Actions and Notifications to the Transaction as required.
The workflow transition will now show as a double green line identifying it as a Parallel transition.
Modified Workflow
Finally let’s take a look at how this looks in action. The selected file has been “Submitted for Approval” , I am logged in as ‘Engineering 1’ and as you can see when I go to ‘Change State’ I have the option to select ‘Approval granted’ and that current ‘0’ out for the required ‘3’ Approvals have been given.
Change State
When I select the Transition you can also see that ‘2 more users’ are still required.
Change State
Made a mistake? One of the really great things about a Parallel Transition is that it can be revoked.
Revoke Approval
Hopefully you have found this post of interest. If you have any questions or suggestions for future posts just contact us or comment on this post… if you say nice things we may even show them ;-)
Thanks for your time... 

Wayne Marshall | Customer Support Manager


Donna DeLeo | May 30, 2014, 2:52am
Is it possible to use parallel transition to overcome an "empty" or N/A assignment of an approved? In my process, the Engr Chg creator chooses from a List of Tech Mgrs. If the design change affects one product, one TM approval is required, if it affects two products, two TMs must be assigned. Currently I have a transition built based upon 2012 processes, with two TM transitions built and a return loop if only one is done. The problem occurs when only one product is affected, and the EC creator chooses N/A for the secondary sign off. In that case I must use the Doc Control account to set the second TM approval to Approved so my return loop doesn't see an incomplete step. Could a parallel transition help me overcome an empty or N/A transition?
Wayne Marshall | August 1, 2014, 9:17am
Hi Donna, Based on what you have described I would probably tackle this using two transitions with ‘conditions’ on each to determine which route the file(s) take. The ‘user’ would only ever see one Transition in his menu as both will have the same ‘name’. Let us, for example, say we create the first ‘Transition’ using the standard (serial) methodology but add a ‘condition’ that the value of the “Secondary sign off” variable must contain ‘N/A’. We then create a second Parallel Transition (with the multiple approver requirement) where the ‘Condition’ is that the value of ‘Secondary Sign Off’ is NOT ‘N/A’. As long as both of these Transitions have the same title then the User will only ever see one option on their menu, but based on the value of “Secondary Sign off” it will either get approved with one pass or will need two. Kind regards Wayne

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