14 September 2009
Basic knowledge of LiveCycle ES will be helpful in following this tutorial.
The eSubmissions Solution Accelerator enables the rapid delivery of managed and auditable review, commenting, and approval solutions based on Adobe LiveCycle ES (Enterprise Suite) software.
In this article, I will explain how to design a multi-user and multi-stage review and approval workflow using eSubmissions Solution Accelerator. You will also learn how to initiate a review commenting and approval workflow using electronic submissions and the Review, Commenting, and Approval building block.
This article will enable you to jump start initiatives to implement a document review and approval process using LiveCycle ES and the eSubmissions Solutions Accelerator.
For instructions on installing eSubmissions Solution Accelerator see Getting Started with eSubmissions Solution Accelerator.
The first step in defining a review and approval workflow is to define a review template. You can think of a review template as a logical grouping of the review attributes that has a user friendly name; for example, Floor Plan Review Template. Basically, a review template defines a reusable skeleton of your review and approval workflow.
The review administrator will typically define multiple review templates. These templates can be modified or deleted as needed. The review administrator is not necessarily a single individual, rather it is a role with the responsibility of creating and managing review templates.
Start creating the template
To create a review template you use the eSubmissions Review Portal, a one-stop shop for authoring, initiating, and your tracking review, commenting, and approval (referred to as RCA hereafter in this document) workflow.
Follow these steps to start the template creation process:
- Log in to the eSubmissions Review Portal using your credentials.
- Navigate to the Templates tab, which will show you all the existing templates.
- Click New to begin defining a new review template.
- On the template definition screen (see Figure 1) type Demo Template for the Template Name. (You can use another name if you want.)
- You can use the Regulation (SOP) field to enter information about any regulations that apply to this template; for example you may type OSHA Standards.
- Type a description of the template in the Description field.
- If you do not want this template to be used yet, you can deselect Active. This will keep the RCA template in draft state (after saving) so it will not be available for initiating an RCA process.
- Leave the other fields as they are, and click Next.
- On the Commenting screen (see Figure 2) leave the default setting (Reviewer can view comments made by others within the same stage).
- Click Next.
Later, you can search running or completed workflows based on the regulation.
You can define multiple stages of review for your workflow. For example, a new business plan may require the following reviews:
- A technical review to assess the technical feasibility of the business plan.
- A business review to assess the business viability of the business plan.
- A legal review to determine if the business plan is legally sound.
Each stage of review and approval is carried out in sequence. Each stage will have at least one moderator. Within each stage, there can be one or many reviewers/approvers. If there is more than one reviewer, then reviews/approvals may be defined as either sequential or parallel.
Moderators are responsible for overseeing the review process. They need to make sure the review is carried out in an efficient, productive, and timely manner. They are also responsible for resolving any conflicts arising in the review process, including interpersonal issues and scheduling conflicts.
Stage Building is the next phase of the Create Review Template process.
Add a review stage
Follow these steps to add a review stage:
- On the Stage Building page (see Figure 3), select Parallel Review as the Stage Type.
- Provide a name for the stage. For this example, type First Review Stage.
- Click Create.
On the following screen (see Figure 4) you define the stage’s expected duration, reminders, and pre- and post-review processes.
- Provide a duration for the stage; for example, type 3 and select Days.
- You may enable reminders if you want.
- Leave the pre-review process and post-review process settings as they are. These options are outside the scope of this article.
- Click Next.
On the following reviewers screen (see Figure 5), you can search for users configured in your LiveCycle ES server and add those users as reviewers or moderators for the stage. Each stage requires at least one moderator and one reviewer to initiate a workflow.
If you choose not to select any moderators or reviewers when creating the template, then you must select at least one moderator and one reviewer when initiating the workflow.
- Type the name of an individual in the search box, and click Search.
- Select the person in the search results, and click Add Moderator.
- Type the name of another individual in the search box, and click Search.
- Select the person in the search results, and click Add Reviewer.
- Click Add New Stage.
While adding a reviewer, you can specify the reviewer as mandatory or optional. For this tutorial, you can leave the default setting, which will define the reviewer as mandatory.
A review stage is marked as completed only when all the mandatory reviewers have completed their review tasks. If a stage duration is expired, the stage is marked as expired and all tasks assigned to particpants (reviewers/approvers) are pulled back from their queues. If any stage in a RCA workflow expires, the complete RCA process is marked as expired.
If you do not want the RCA process to proceed to the next stage when all the mandatory reviewers have completed their review task, but instead you want to wait for the full duration of the stage to elapse, then select Continue Review For Specified Duration Regardless Of Completion on the previous stage definition screen (see Figure 4).
Add an approval stage
Follow these steps to add an approval stage:
- On the Stage Building page, click Add New Stage.
- On the stage definition screen (see Figure 4), type Second Stage-Approval as the stage name.
- This time, select Parallel Approval as the stage type.
- Click Create.
The approval stage definition page is very similar to the review stage definition page, but it also allows you define what type of signature is required.
- For this tutorial, leave the Signature Type as None and click Next.
- On the following screen add approvers and moderators following the same procedure you used in the review stage definition.
- Click Next.
Here again, you can choose not to select a moderator or approver for this stage when creating the template, but then you must select at least one moderator and one approver when the RCA workflow is initiated.
Adding supporting documents and selecting audit levels
You can add supporting documents to serve as reference documents for the RCA process. You can link to an existing document on your intranet or on the Internet. Alternatively, you can upload a supporting document from your local system.
Supporting documents can be supplied when the template is created or when the RCA is initiated. When defined in the template, supporting documents are available to all RCA processes that are initiated from that template. So, when you define the template, you will want to supply those supporting documents that apply to every RCA process that will be initiated from that template; for example, a compliance code specification document, a protocol specification document, and so on.
Follow these steps to add a supporting document
- Browse to select a file on your local system or type a URL to the file or web page.
- Optionally, type a description of the supporting document.
- Click Attach (see Figure 7).
The document will be added to the list of attached documents.
- Click Next.
On the next screen, you can configure review tracking sheets and approval routing slips. This topic is beyond the scope of this article, so simply click Next to proceed to the Audit Levels page.
Some RCA workflows may not require auditing, while others that involve regulatory compliance will require thorough audit reviews. On the Audit Levels page, you can select an existing audit level for this review template (see Figure 8). (It is possible define custom audit levels, but that is outside the scope of this article.)
As a final step, click Finish to create the template.
You can verify that the newly created template appears under the Templates tab in the Review Portal. You can view, modify, and delete templates from there.
Now that you have created an RCA template, the next step is to initiate a RCA workflow using this template.
As with defining a template, you use the Review Portal to initiate the review process.
Starting the review
Follow these steps to start the review process:
- Log in to the Review Portal.
- Navigate to the Initiate Review tab, where you will see a list of all the active templates.
- Find the template for the workflow you want to initiate (see Figure 9) and click its associated Select button.
If you don’t see the template that you just created, please make sure that the template is marked as active on the Template Definition page.
Defining the review title and description
After you select a template, the Initiate Review process starts (see Figure 10). While the Template Name you specified when defining the template could be used to describe a review process for a particular type of document, the Review Title that you will provide next would describe a particular instance of the review process, for example, for a specific project, product, or customer.
- Type a title for this review; for example Demo RCA.
- Type a description of the review.
- Click Next.
Note: The Regulation (SOP) value can not be changed here; it can only be changed in the template itself.
Stages and timelines
The following screen displays a list of stages and estimated timelines for each participant in each stage (see Figure 11). For a serial stage with multiple participants, the total duration of the stage is equally divided among all participants. Note that this is not the actual time line, only an estimated time line based on the total duration of the stage.
In a serial review or approval stage, if a participant consumes most of the time allotted to that stage, then the moderator may use the review dashboard to increase the duration of the stage.
Adding participants and supporting documents
When initiating the workflow, you can add reviewers, approvers, and moderators to those already specified by the template. Note, however, that you cannot remove or change participants specified by the template.
Follow these steps to add a participant:
- Click Add Participant.
- On the Add Participants page, select the stage to which you are adding the participant (see Figure 12).
- Search for the person (or group) you want to add
- Click Add Reviewer, Add Approver, or Add Moderator.
- Click Next.
On the next page you can add supporting documents to complement the supporting document that were attached when the template was defined. The interface for adding supporting documents is identical to the one you used earlier (see Figure 13).
Adding documents for review, commenting, and approval
The final step is to add the main content that is to be reviewed and/or approved. You can browse and add multiple documents on the Documents for Review page (see Figure 14). These documents will be converted and combined into a single PDF document. That final master document will be used in the RCA workflow.
Note: For PDF conversion to work, you will need the required LiveCycle ES components installed on the LiveCycle ES server.
When you have finished adding documents for review, click Finish to trigger the RCA workflow. Participants in the RCA process will receive email notifications and reminders as the process progresses.
After the review is inititated, the stages will be executed in sequence. First, the reviewers or approvers in the first stage will be assigned their tasks. Participants can use Adobe LiveCycle Workspace ES to review and complete their tasks.
You can track the progress of RCA workflows using the eSubmissions Dashboard. To access the dashboard, click the Dashboard tab in the Review Portal.
Where to go from here
You’ve seen how to set up and initiate and RCA workflow using eSubmissions Solution Accelerator.
For more information on solution accelerators, see the following resources:
For more information on eSubmissions Solution Accelerator, see the following resources: