Monday, August 7, 2017

Introducing Automation Rules

AutomationA major new capability called 'Automation Rules' has been added to the ITRP service. It allows change and project managers to automatically cause records in ITRP to be updated when certain conditions have been met as people are working on the tasks of their changes and project.

Any person who has the Change Manager or Project Manager role can add automation rules to the tasks of the changes or projects they manage. What's probably more important is that they can also add automation rules to the workflows defined in the change templates and project templates. That ensures that these automation rules are included whenever the templates are used to register a new change, or to add some standard phases to a project.

To add automation rules to, for example, one of the task templates that is part of a specific change template, open the Gantt Chart of the change template's workflow. When you hover your mouse cursor over one of the task templates, the Automation Rules icon appears. Clicking on this icon allows you to add one or more automation rules for this task template. Keep in mind that the automation rules you add to a task template are limited only to the change template in which you do this. So other change templates to which the same task template is linked will not be affected.

Adding an automation rule in the Gantt chart of a change template
Let's use the above change template as an example to explain more about the Automation Rules functionality. This change template is used to prepare everything that is needed when a new employee joins the organization. Its workflow looks as follows:

Change template workflow with automation rules in Gantt chart
Note that the little Automation Rules icon indicates that the first task includes one or more automation rules. When you click on this icon you can review these rules. In this example four rules have been defined:

Example of automation rules defined for a task template
In the screen above, the order in which the rules are executed can be adjusted by dragging them up or down. When you click on one of the four rules, you are able to see what this rule does. And if you have the Change Manager role, you can update or delete this rule. The first rule uses information from a UI extension:

Automation rule example 1
The second rule also uses data from this UI extension. It uses this data to determine whether a task is needed for a specific change:

Automation rule example 2
When these rules are triggered for an actual change that was created based on this template, you can see which rules were executed in the task:

Rule executions are visible in a task
Clicking on one of these rule executions opens a graphical representation of the automation trace which shows the actions that were executed. The blue one is the rule execution that was selected from the task.

Graphical representation of the automation trace that shows the rule executions
In the automation trace it is possible to click on an automation rule to see how it was processed:

Automation trace rule execution details
Some useful automation rule examples have been documented in ITRP's online help.

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating automation rules. First, automation rules are executed after all the standard logic of the ITRP service has been processed. This means, for example, that if a rule is to trigger after a task has been set to the status ‘Completed’, ITRP first updates the status of the task’s successors to ‘Assigned’, before executing the automation rule.

It is also important to know that automation rules do not have more access rights than the person for whom the rules are executed. This means that when automation rules are executed for the manager of a change, these rules are only allowed to execute actions which the change manager is allowed to perform manually.