A small preview of our next release

We’ve been working hard in these previous weeks getting version 2.5 of Procx out on the streets. Most of the new features comes as part of the feedback we’ve been getting from our customers. The winner feature of all was a better web client interface. So, we dedicated the majority of the time in developing a new client with all the features requested. Here’s a preview of what’s coming:

1. The home page: The initial page welcomes every user with a summary of tasks pending and overdue for him. Also, a small calendar shows the tasks a person has for today by default.

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2. The WorkList: this is the main part of the web client. Here you can see all the tasks assigned to you. You can now customize views so you can add or remove fields depending on the process and requests that you manage. For example, if you work for the IT department and handle help desk or maintenance requests, you may have a view that displays the tasks with fields associated to these request. If you work for the human resources department and handle training requests, you may want a view that shows fields from those requests.

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3. RSS Feeds: now you can see tasks in your favorite RSS reader.

4. Tasks detail: You can complete tasks directly from the web, enter and view comments history.

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5. Flow: You can now have a visual representation of the process actually running letting you know in what stage it is right now.

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6. Search: Advance search capabilities and a detail of where is any request.

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7. Reports: Reports can be seen now from the web, including any custom report made using the Procx Studio.

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In conclusion, great features are coming in the next release of our new web client making it very easy for anybody in the organization to receive and complete tasks assigned to them during any process.

Procx 2.1 is out!

Today we have gone live with the new version of
Procx. There are some exciting
new features in the
product including:

  • The ability to start a process from an email.
  • Create Microsoft Word and Excel documents in the process.
  • Start a process from a database table.
  • Support for global variables.

Also an important offering we now have is the
services offering.
Now you can buy from our online store, besides the licenses you need for Procx,
also services like the creation of InfoPath and other type of forms, Web
Services for database integration and other related services, allowing you to
buy the whole solution and starting to benefit from Procx right away.

There are many other details in the product that will make the creation of
processes and flow definition event more creative.

We have also made available a series of movies where you can see Procx in
action and how the integration with SharePoint and InfoPath works. You can see
them here.

Procx Tip #5 – Organizational Charts

When working with general users in the enterprise, we always need to understand how they relate to each other. Thinking about a person as an entity can bring us a lot of trouble when we are trying to model a process for the organization.

Users don’t do tasks for themselves, they always need information (either from the customer or from colleagues) so they are always in constant contact with other employees in the company and with their direct superior. This last person act as facilitator in process execution.

So, what’s the best way we can use to model users in the organization? The most common way to do it: Organizational Charts. They give us an easy way to create roles, create hierocracies of roles, define departments and assign final users of these roles and the levels they belong to. Levels give us another easy way to handle hierocracy in the company. In this case, the organizational chart has the intelligence to know who are the managers or directors of a certain department.

When building a process, assigning roles to execute the activities is as simple as selecting them from the organizationa, chart. At the time of execution, though, is where the magic comes in. when you assign for example, a direct role to an activity, Procx will go and get the actual user from the organizational chart. But, we can also assign an activity to a manager, and depending on who started the process, Procx can know automatically who’s department manager to sent the request.

This kind of modeling give us full power when working with processes and activities through the organization and let us view it as a whole.

Procx Tip #4 – Integration

When you are orchestrating business processes in the organization, what you are controlling is the flow of information. This information can be used for taking decisions using business rules, creating documents, etc. In some time of the process, generally at then, the information needs to be persisted in some sort of system for later consultation and reporting.

Procx provide this capability using industry standard Web Services. Inside processes, you can place web services activities and send information from forms through them. This allows you integrate with third party systems like accountant systems or customer relationship management systems. In a expense approval process for example, at the end you may want to send this information to the accounts payable system directly. Even more, if your third party application supports it, you can print the check also. Possibilities are endless.

Not only you can send information, but you can also receive information inside processes using Procx. You can use this for example for taking decisions. In a loan application, during the process you may want to check the credit score of the applicant, and make decisions based on that.

When talking about integration, web services are the best technology tool to use. They are easy to build by developers and almost any new software application is coming with pre-built web services for integration purposes.

Procx Tip #3 – Workload Balancing

Assigning tasks to people in an organization is what defines the everyday operations of a company. Request can come from anywhere in the organization or from outside and they must handled in a certain way. For example, a bank must handle loan requests from customers or the accounts payable department must handle expense request forms from any department.

As the company grows, the amount of requests also grows. Sometimes we need to balance the amount of work between several group of people. We can assign requests to them base for example in a one by one basis. We assign one loan request form to official 1, the next one to official 2 and so on until starting again from official 1. Or, we can assign more requests to the fastests official, so we can increase productivity.

Both models of assignment are supported in SkyXoft Procx activities. You can configure the group of roles that will handle requests and the type of assignment. You’re incrementing the performance of processes automatically besides the performance gain from automating them.

Procx Tip #2 – SharePoint Integration

If you are using a business process management or workflow application like Procx, you can maximize the benefit and your ROI if you use a document management system.

A document management system provides a central repository for documents (any kind of documents), versioning, metadata for documents, advance search capabilities and other collaboration tools (like discussion forums, contact lists, task management, schedules, etc.) that will let you collaborate with the whole company in a better way.

Out of the box, SkyXoft Procx supports Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Windows SharePoint Services (the free version) as a document management system (also supports physical folders). But not only provides support, it also adds integration and a series of tasks that can be used at any moment during your process.

When you define a process in Procx, you can attach it to a document library in SharePoint. Any document created or saved in the the library will automatically start the process. You can also assign processes to folders inside document libraries, and not having to create multiple document libraries for various processes.

Some of the tasks you can use in your process include the Lock Document and Unlock Document that allows you to check-in and check-out a document from a document library and preventing other people from modifying it during the process execution. You also have the Copy Document and Move Document that allows, as the name implies, to copy or move a document. But, not only do this, it can copy or move the document across document libraries or across document libraries of different sites and also (as is this was not enough :-) ) the document keeps it’s version history.

Other useful task is the Document Library that allows you to use the already defined custom fields (the metadata) of the document library where the document resides. You can use this fields for creating business rules in the process, filling out forms or send them to other third party systems using Web Services. A field list from the document library will look like the figure on the right.

This kind of integration will provide the most benefit to any SharePoint installation and also, to any Procx installation, letting you master and coordinate your company processes altogether.

Procx Tip #1

When we were building
Procx, one of the
things we wanted to achieve was to give total control about processes, that
businesses could draw their process in a standard way (how business users draw
it and understands it) but at the same time, they could create rules, define
flow paths and control their business in a deep manner.

When a process is executed, it is usually done
in the context of something. Generally, this can be a document, a spreadsheet, a
presentation, a form, etc. The most common is a form. These are used through out
businesses to represent request from customers and internal employees. It
structure information and contains the elements necessary for running the

Because of this, we wanted to integrate forms
in Procx in a standard way, so information from these forms could be available
inside the process and, at the same time, it would be easy for business users to
use that information and build processes with it.

That’s why we have forms integrated in Procx.
In actual version 2.0, you can integrate forms made with

Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003
, industry standard
XForms or any other form that
produces a standard XML file. There are
certain activities in Procx that will let you consume the fields from these
forms and use them in the process. When you do this, they are available for use
in the Data Sources browser:

In this figure for example, you can see fields
coming from an expense form.

With this you can now build business rules (or
policies), use them to send information to other systems (integration) like
accounting systems, customer relationship systems, create other documents, etc.
You can use them in any activity that supports the use of fields.

Approving expense request in a minute

The primary purpose of workflow applications is to increase performance of existing processes. In general these processes are linked to day to day operations of a company.


Increasing performance sometimes is not that easy and more if those processes are running for years and people in your company are used to do things like that. Consulting services companies provide business process advisory for decreasing the cost and time of actual processes by doing reengineering and things alike that can cause more problems than solutions.


A workflow application reduces costs and time just by modeling the process and managing all tasks assignments electronically.


For example, thinking about the process of approving an expense application, the whole process begins when someone in the company stayed until late last night and decided to order pizzas on behalves of the company. The person keeps the receipt hoping tomorrow to fill an expense report and get his 12 bucks reimbursed.


The process of approving an expense form is fairly simple, you just fill out the form and hand it over to your manager or assistant for approval and send it to the accounts payable department. While the form travels his way to the later department, it may need to go to various levels of approvals, depending on the amount that needs to be reimbursed. This can last a couple of days if the levels of approvals are high. Even more days if the expense form comes from a branch in town and has to travel to the headquarters.


But, if we make a twist and have an electronic expense form, located in the company intranet or some central site where employees can enter and fill out the form electronically and submitted to a workflow application that takes charge of delivering this form to every person whose approval is needed, handling the response of each person and managing the policies that applies to the expense form, then we are talking about some time and cost improvement without having to reengineer anything.


The process of approvals and task assigning can be done inside the workflow application by configuring it to take into account the total amount of the expense. This can be done integrating forms into the workflow application.


We can reduce this process of approval from days to maybe just one day or even hours for our hard working employee that order a pizza last night. You can increase performance of processes and reduce costs by just automating the task and policies in the application. We can even go further along if we want to integrate the form with third party applications like the financial system of the company, also reducing the work load of our folks at the accounts payable department.


When you compare the investment made in other software applications, the return of workflow and automating business process is higher and, by far, easier to implement.

Beta version released

Since today we are rolling out the beta version of SkyXoft Procx 2.0. If you want to participate in this program, feel free to register by filling out your request. Every organization that rolls in the program will receive a 30% discount on the license price at the end of the beta program.

Any bugs or comments you find during the testing, please let us know about it on our support forums.

Any comments are welcome.