Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

To (Work)flow or not to flow --- this is the question

I'm reviewing a customer's travel request application. You know that stuff with approvals for travel, advanced cash, expense claims and a bit of travel agency involvement. My client has 5000 users using it on a 4way server and is planning to extend usage to 15000 users soon.  Users already complain, that the webUI is dreadfully slow.Currently the application is running on R5 build with Lotus Workflow 3 (the artist formerly known as Prozessware). Moving to R7 has been decided. Now the big question is: upgrade to Workflow 7 or replacing the code with custom or alternative workflow.
I think Lotus Workflow is an awesome product (Disclaimer: I'm German and Prozessware was German too). It reassembles the original concept of documents flowing through an organisation kept together by a binder quite nicely. Also you can design an awful lot of complex workflows using a simple to use workflow painter. On the other hand: our workflows are linear chains, pretty straight forward and the (web) UI is a bit too generic for my taste: Instead of approve/reject buttons you typically would have a radio button or a dropdown to set your status and then use "Activity completed" to trigger the workflow engine for the next steps. It nicely preserves a complete audit trail in the same db which keeps the indexer busy (since an agent is shuffling the trail to a different database), since we have a lot of documents created/deleted within a few minutes.
So the big question: Generic, well designed Lotus Workflow or specialized (but still configurable) speed tuned version?
Any opinions on that?

Posted by on 27 November 2005 | Comments (2) | categories: IBM Notes Lotus Notes


  1. posted by Neil Gower on Tuesday 29 November 2005 AD:
    I have to day that I would use or build an alternative workflow engine, over the years I have used Domino Workflow, and Percussion Powerflow, but in the end most of the workflows I have created are also fairly lineark, so I have eneded up using a simple lotusscript workflow engine.

    Its seems to me that as long as you have conditional branching, notification, and parrallel/seriel processing you can cope with 90% of workflow requirements.

    This workflow engine is now build into every application we build, just incase the business change their processes LOL (perish the thought) Emoticon biggrin.gif
  2. posted by Jack Dausman on Thursday 01 December 2005 AD:
    Lotus Workflow is an outstanding product. There are good reasons to look at other workflow alternatives, but I've found that LW is a good tool if (1) the process is not too simple (there are simpler tools) or (2) too intensive for the document flow.

    It doesn't matter if the the client count is 500 or 15,000 the question is how many documents will the agents be processing at a time. That is its weakness (that it looks at each document/binder).

    My gut feeling is that you are simply going to love going to Domino/Workflow 7. The latency shouldn't be in the workflow design, but that's another discussion.