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4.2 New Features

Version 4.2 is a feature release and contains several new features and changes.

They are organized into the following categories:

  • Approvals functionality
  • Model designer
  • Reporter

Approvals

Approvals are and extension of the Workflow Module.  

Purpose

Approvals provide workflow functionality to control the availability of content in the web. They can be used for the content creation process, such as defining KPIs or initiatives.

Approvals can be added to any object that is viewable as a page, in the model, template, or default views.  They cannot be added to comments, or as part of a periodic review of existing content.

Scope

Approvals function as children of the objects they attach to.  Approvals can be made on the objects themselves, where the full context is available, or through filtered lists displaying a user's approvals.

Approval setup occurs in the template system.  The setup provides a more centralized way of managing the approval lists, ordering of approvals, configuration of emails, the the approval logs.

Features

  • Approvals can be added to any object that has its own page
  • Approval lists- easy maintenance
  • Unlimited levels of approval
  • Automatic email notifications available
  • Logging of when, and who approved the item

Configuration

An approval object can be added to initiatives, tasks, risks, indicators, and scorecard objects, as shown below:

An approval object can be given its own tab, if desired.

The approval object will appear in the web as a table, and can be configured as follows:

In the web, the approval object will appear as follows:

The view above is visible to the creator of the object.

The person who is the next approver would see the following view, with the added options for approving or rejecting the item:

Regular, non-admin users would not see the object at all.

Configuring the approval setup

Each approval object needs to be linked to an approval setup.  The setup controls who needs to approve the object before it is visible in the web.  Approval setups are maintained in the template system.

Opening the approval setup provides the following configuration options:

To add approvers, select the folder icon next to the approvers field:

When users have been selected, they can be reordered be selecting the arrow icon.

 

Note that if groups are added, any member of the group can make the approver.  If you require group members to approve sequentially, they should be added and ordered as individual users.

The approval log configuration configures what, if anything, should be logged regarding the approval.  It can be dynamically configured, as follows:

Note that the parent of the approval object is the actual object being approved.

Emails are configured in a similar manner.  In the example below, a copy of the approval log is included in the email body:

Approvals in the web

Approvals can be accessed through either filtered lists or directly on the objects where the approvals are located.

                 

Filtered list of 'My Approvals':

In the example above, the approval shows the log and comments (if any) made by the previous approver).  

When an action is made to either approval or reject the object, a comment box appears:

Any comment that is made will be part of the log.

Approvals can also be made in the web on the object they are attached to, as follows:

Tips and notes: 

Approvals work independently from access control.  Approvers do not need to have specific access to objects they are responsible for approving.

If you wish to enable a 'draft mode' where the creator can work on content prior to the next approver, the creator should be the first approver.  Otherwise, the approval workflow begins from the moment the object is created.

Approval objects can be deleted once the approval has been made.  This can be achieved by searching for approvals with the approval status of 'complete.'

Filtered lists displaying the content that a user created and that is waiting approval can be configured using filtered lists.

Filter configuration:

Model designer 

Changes to Configuration Studio and model design concepts have been grouped into the following categories:

  • Indicators and Indicator lists
  • Changes to Property management system
  • Improved filter on Initiative and Risk assessment tables
  • Changes to Visibility rules
  • Token tags

Indicator Lists

Indicators and indicator lists are new objects that have been added to provide additional models for visualizing performance.  These require a different license.  This is to differentiate between customers who do not have any interest in balanced scorecard structures in their workspace.

Uses:

Flat metrics lists- for customers who do not hiearchically organize their metrics.

Configurable hierarchies- providing unlimited 'levels' of metrics, for customers who require sub-KPIs or other metric structures.

Configuration

Rather than using a 'scorecard object,' a model page can be used.  This avoids the scorecard terminology.  Note that if a model page is used, perspective tables cannot be added to the page. 

However indicators and indicator lists can be added to scorecards and their related pages.

Adding a model page

Model pages can only be added to organizations.  They are configured in the same way that scorecard pages are, with the exception that their system properties differ slightly (they lack, mission, vision, etc.).

Structuring indicators

Indicators can be configured as flat structures within indicator lists to appear as follows:

In addition, they can be organized in hierarchies.

In the example above, indicators are added directly to other indicators.  This results in a tree view.  The tree view can be controlled to appear as expanded, as above, or collapsed, by default.

In this example, a model similar to a balanced scorecard is configured:

This is configured by placing indicators directly under other indicators, as shown below:

The example was based on creating default types resembling balanced scorecard models, with the addition of a sub-KPI, and controlling them through addable objects.

Each default object is configured to show the next object type as the addable object:

Alternatively, nested models can be created using the following approach:

Default structure:                                                

 Model Structure:

In this example, each perspective would provide a page that contains a table holding the objectives, and each objective a table of KPIs.   In this way, the perspectives will appear as a flat table.   

Note that all objects in this model are actually comprised of indicator objects.

Time context in Configuration Studio

Configuration Studio now has a period selector.  This enables administrators to edit historical properties in Configuration Studio.

Historical properties such as status, progress, start, and end dates are now editable in Configuration Studio:

Centralized Property Management

Properties are now centrally configured, and linked out to object types that use them.  This simplifies reporting, and will allow tables in the future to combine content based on objects of different types (classes).  It also streamlines workflow rules related to custom object properties.

Configuration

A new property settings panel is shown to the right of the 'Type Management' panel.  Admins can easily filter between custom and system properties to make management easier.

Adding a new property

Properties are adding in the property settings panel similar to before:

Properties that have been defined should be copied, then pasted as a link into the object type or types that should refer to those properties:

Once the property has been linked out to the object, the configuration can be overriden in the same way the normal template system works with model objects:

 

New Property Functionality

Two new properties are available in the model designer:

  • Token tags
  • URL (Link) properties

Token tags

Token tags allow Reporter-like tags as properties to reference properties of other objects, or to be used within other content (such as to dynamically create IDs based on concatenating other properties).  These can be used in the web, or in tables needed for Transformer.

Uses

In this example, a token property called 'accountable' is used on risk factors.  The intention is to have the KPI or Objective 'responsible' as the user accountable for the risk factor.  Since a risk factor exists within a table, the tag should be as follows: ${this.object.parent.parent.parent.responsible}.

By checking the property function box, the property becomes read only, and the 'value' returned by the tag will be visible in tables.  When used as function properties, the property will not be visible in Configuration Studio, but can be shown in tables.

URL (Link) Properties

A link property displays an icon in tables that represent a link.

Configuration

A URL can be directly added to the property.

The URL can also be dynamically parameterized, consistent with other URL parameterization:

Overriding column names

Properties, such as Boolean (checks) can be shortened for use as table column headers.  This is achieved by entering a value in the 'overridden column name' field of any property.  This is useful since property names also function as the 'web form' when entering a new task or initiative in the web.  

In this example, a monthly review is required.  By entering a short name in the 'overriden column name in table' field, a J will appear as the column header in a table, rather than the full name of 'January.'

The resulting table appears as follows:

When seen in the web form view, the full property name will appear:

                            

Improved filter on initiative and risk assessment tables

Initiatives and risk assessment tables now have filters resembling filtered lists.  An upgrade script should automate converting the fixed initiative filtering from previous versions.  

Uses

Many customers use the initiative object for several purposes.  Since initiatives 'affect' specific objects, it was not possible to filter initiatives by types in the initiative tables.  While this is possible using a filtered list, filtered lists do not allow adding objects (new initiatives).  For this purpose, a more configurable, dynamic filter was added to replace the previous filter.

In the example above, one initiative table displays initiatives, while the lower table displays projects.

Configuration

As seen above, a custom list property called type is used, and the initiative table only displays initiatives of the type 'strategic initiatives.'  In this example, a default strategic initiative would be attached to the table.  Likewise the project 'type' would be filtered and linked to the project table.

Visibility Rules

Visibility rules have been improved over previous versions.  In addition to multi-selecting properties, the following new features are available:

  • Ability to lock objects based on time
  • Properties can be enabled
  • Better user-based rules
  • Rules run sequentially-  can be overriden

In previous versions, if 'access' to a property was denied for any reason by any rule, it was impossible to grant access.  This meant that it was difficult to configure complex use cases.

Configuration

In this example, all initiatives that have passed the end date should be read only:

By leaving the field for the end date empty, the rule will run against today's date.  This will enforce the rule even if a user navigates to an earlier period when the initiative was active.  All properties can be selected with control-A, and marked for read only.

Additionally, the rule can be configured in three ways to apply to the following interfaces:

  • Configuration studio
  • Web editor
  • Web table editor

In addition to hiding or read only, there is also the option to enable a rule.  In this way, members of the leadership group could be granted access to properties that have been denied through previous rules.  Note that rules run sequentially.

In the example above, if the user belongs to the leadership group, he or she will have the property enabled.

Visibility settings can be used to create a highly configurable, flexible, rules-based access to object properties that can account for who can access, and when they can access the properties.  Note that ownership can create situations that override the visibility settings.  Ownership can be controlled for workflow if needed.

Workflow Improvements 

A new object called the action button has been added, and property updates are now handled with Reporter-like tags.

Action button 

The action button can link to a Workflow rule or a Workflow action group.  This can be done in cases where rules need to be triggered from user actions.  This can avoid situations where rules are scheduled at high frequencies.  Typical customer settings can use buttons with the text 'submit' or 'update' to provide more relevance to the use of the button.

Configuration

The button is the same object that can also trigger Transformer jobs:

The action button can link to a Workflow rule or action group (a group of multiple rules):

        

Workflow property updates 

Workflow rules that update object properties now use Reporter-like tags:

In this example, the current object responsible is set to be the same as those responsible for the parent object.  Previously, properties could only be set to fixed values.  By using Reporter-like tags, object properties can be set more dynamically.

Reporter Improvements

Reporter has been deeply rewritten for 4.2.  Changes include the following:

  • Docx format is supported for both report output and template formats, when Apose (Word) is the chosen report engine
  • Better performance and memory handling for large reports
  • Powerpoint presentations no longer require removing slides when a slide is not to appear in a report
  • MS Office charts are supported in docx reports
  • Expandable tables are configurable

NOTE:  No changes have been made to Reporter related to Open Office as the report engine.

Report formats 

Existing reports are not impacted by the changes in report formats.  Both doc and docx templates can be used.  Either can be imported into the system.  Due to issues with how Word locks documents that are being edited, all report formats (documents, presentations, and spreadsheets) now must be exported and imported into the report module.

Presentations

For customers who use slides to manage code that inserts other slides, these presentations need to be manually upgraded to remove the #removeslide tags.  In its place is a #nocopy tag that can appear anywhere on a slide that is not to appear in the final output.  This would include slides that are used solely to find and repeat through other content on other slides.

MS Office Charts

MS charts can be added as objects to reports by inserting them, and placing the table tag (either direct, or using a variable') in the chart description.  There is no need to refer to a dataset to connect the chart to data.

Note that not all chart features may be supported.  This might include variations in colors, gradients, or other advanced formatting.  Also, tags cannot be used within charts.  In the example above, the chart title could either be removed, or be specified to a fixed title.  A tag could not be used as the title.

Expandable tables 

Users can now control the widths of expandable table columns.  

Configuration

If you know the number of columns before the table is rendered, you can set the width of the individual columns, and the overall table width.  Previously expandable tables would expand to the width of the page, and the column widths were automatically sized, based on the content they contained.  This made it impossible to align column widths for multiple tables containing the same content (like multiple organizatonal views of the same tables).  By setting the columns, they can be aligned across tables.

If a table has more columns than were configured, each successive column will share the same settings are the right-most column.  If a table is configured with the default template style of two columns, the table will function entirely automatically and dynamically, as it did before. 

Template view 

Report output

 

In the example above, each table has columns that are aligned.  Also, the table was set to be less than the full width of the page.

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  1. Hans Erik Hovland

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