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Workflow reporting and auditing best practices

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Visibility into business process history and performance is critical for every business implementing Winshuttle Workflow. For every action taken in every workflow process, audit information is available allowing you to provide comprehensive logs and reports in order to comply with auditing requirements. The same database of workflow activity can be used to create reports and dashboards providing insights into the overall performance of the business unit or single individuals. For example, it is common that shared service departments have service level agreements (SLAs) that they are committed to. You can build dashboards which measure actual performance against these SLAs.

Winshuttle Workflow offers a range of options you can utilize for mining workflow data for both reporting and auditing purposes. In the following, the various options are outlined along with common use cases.

Viewing workflow performance data on the Central Administration site

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Use the Central Administration site for Winshuttle Workflow to view performance charts and data so you can retrieve simple reports for a given amount of time on a site/process:

  • Site Performance Analysis
  • Process Performance Analysis
  • Task Performance By Process Analysis
  • Performers Performance By Process Analysis

The Central Administration site also contains an Export to Excel feature, which dumps workflow and task assignment data into an Excel spreadsheet. This enables a business analyst to utilize the default features in Excel to review and analyze the workflow data.

For more information on how to use these features, please refer to the Audits & Reports section at the Winshuttle Foundation Help Center.

  • Administrators retrieving logs for auditing purposes.
  • Administrators performing simple ad-hoc process analysis.
  • Administrators providing business analysts with raw data for further analysis.

Configuring workflow to output data to SharePoint lists

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Winshuttle Workflow can be configured to automatically output workflow activity data in SharePoint lists. There are two types of SharePoint lists collecting this data:

  • Winshuttle Process Status List
  • Winshuttle Assignment Status List

These lists, combined with the actual form libraries, allow you to use the default SharePoint functionality, such as views and filters, to review and analyze the data. You can also utilize other SharePoint add-ons (e.g. pivot chart widget) to examine the data in these lists.

Furthermore, standard SharePoint functionality also allows you to export data in these lists to Excel or Access where you can utilize data analysis capabilities in those respective products, e.g. pivot tables and charting.

For more information on how to use these features, please see Exporting Workflow Data into a Database or SharePoint in the Designer User Guide.

Common use cases

  • Display KPIs using SharePoint’s KPI web part (requires SharePoint Enterprise CALs).
  • Create simple reports using SharePoint list views.
  • Empower business analysts to directly access and retrieve workflow data.

Using SQL databases for reporting

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All Winshuttle Workflow data is stored in a SQL Server database. Winshuttle Workflow provides a mechanism for configuring scheduled exports of workflow data into other database destinations, such as existing data warehouses. By connecting to well-defined, invariant table structures in an external warehouse, you can leverage more powerful reporting tools that are compatible with SQL Server (e.g. SQL Server Reporting Services and SAP Business Objects).

Apart from exporting data from the workflow activity logging tables, most companies will also want to export additional form fields for reporting purposes. This can be achieved by "promoting" forms fields as form properties making those fields appear in the SharePoint lists containing the forms. Data in these lists can also be exported to the external data warehouse.

When addressing anything beyond the simplest of reporting requirements, this is the route most customers take.

For more information, see Exporting Workflow Data into a Database or SharePoint in the Designer Help.

Note: It is not recommended to build reports connecting directly to the Winshuttle Workflow database tables, because the database schema may change in future versions potentially breaking those reports.

Common use cases

  • KPIs and Balanced Scorecards using SharePoint PerformancePoint Services (requires SharePoint Enterprise CALs).
  • Workflow activity reporting using SQL Server Reporting Services.
  • Business process performance dashboards using SQL Server Reporting Services.
  • Build reports and dashboards using other reporting tools, including SAP Business Objects.

Using email reports

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There feature enables email summary reports on a per-form basis; for example, a 7-day average of the fields in a form that is submitted every day. For example, you can create reports from XSL and Query templates that can include data calculated for a specific type of form for a specific number of days.

The report is sent out as an email based on an XSL file. The data is retrieved using a separate text file to query the form type (i.e. corresponding SharePoint list and its entries).

Common use cases

  • Keeping stakeholders informed on certain workflow activity.