Alfresco Demonstration:  Bid/Project Management and Workflow

Alfresco Demonstration: Bid/Project Management and Workflow

November 17, 2019 0 By Luis Garrison

This demonstration will cover some basic Alfresco
functionality including folder templates, workflows, email notifications, and Alfresco
Mobile. I’m also going to show portions of the Alfresco
Outlook Client, the Formtek EDM Module for Alfresco, and the Formtek Auditing Extension. This demo involves an engineering company
that uses Alfresco to manage documents and drawings across all aspects of their business. I created a number of Alfresco users whose
names represent their roles. I’m going to log in & out of Alfresco and
Outlook as we go through the demo. I’m logged in right now as Emma, the Engineering
Services Coordinator. We’re in the Document Library of a special
site that we’ve set up for today’s demo, called ABC Demo. Emma is going to create a new Bid/Project
folder structure using the “Create Folder from Template” command. Opening the new folder, we’ll see that we’ve
got a predefined folder structure that matches the company’s business process. This folder template is available because
I created the folder structure inside the Space Templates section of the Alfresco Repository. Space templates are a great way to easily
create the same folder structure over & over again. You can define rules and permissions on folders
in the template, and you could even pre-populate the folders with template files like blank
Bid or Meeting Minutes documents, or standard Terms & Conditions documents. Emma’s going to upload some RFP and Bid
documents to the first folder. If I refresh the browser, we’ll see thumbnails
for these documents. Let’s edit some properties for these documents. You’ll notice that this Edit Properties
form contains more fields than the standard Alfresco content type. We’re using the Formtek EDM Module for Alfresco
on this system, which provides us with a custom content model and two custom content types:
Engineering Drawing, and Engineering Document. We have an Alfresco rule in place that automatically
sets AutoCAD drawings to the Engineering Drawing content type, and everything else to the Engineering
Document content type. We can obviously set many more properties
than this, but for the sake of time, we’ll only set the Reference value to the project
identifier. Emma has worked on these documents and completed
them, so she’s going to initiate a workflow for the Estimator user to review these documents. This list shows the possible workflows that
can be used. We’re just going to assign this to our Estimator
as a new task. We’ll assign this to Ernie, and give him
a brief message about the project. We’re not going to worry about a due date. When we save the workflow, Ernie will be notified
via email. Let’s take a look in Outlook. I’ve got Outlook configured to monitor the
email addresses of all of these demo users. Looking at Ernie’s inbox, we can see that
he has a notification telling him that he’s been assigned a task. Let’s open the email. From this notification email, Ernie can download
the documents, or click on the bottom link to be taken directly to Alfresco. Let’s click the link to get straight to
the task. Here’s the new task that was assigned to
Ernie. From here, Ernie can click on each of the
documents to review them If Ernie’s satisfied with the documents,
he can prepare his estimate and upload it to Alfresco, then attach it to the workflow. He already created the estimate, and it’s
sitting out on his hard drive. Let’s upload it to the project folder. Ernie’s done with his work, so he’ll add
a comment and mark the task as complete. This will take us back to Ernie’s task list,
which is now empty. This will also trigger an email to Emma letting
her know that Ernie is done. Let’s log Ernie out of Alfresco, and go
back to Outlook and check Emma’s email. Let’s go back into Alfresco as Emma and
see the task. If we open this task, we’ll see that
the task is done. Emma can look at the new Estimate document
from here. Here’s the preview of the estimate document. Emma can download the document or check it
out to work on it later, or she can edit it directly in Excel or in Google Docs. Let’s edit it in MS-Office. Emma can now make changes to the document. If I refresh the browser window, we can see
that the version of the document has changed to 1.1, and we can see Emma’s changes in
the preview. At this point, Emma is going to go back & forth
with Sales, ironing out the details of the bid. When the bid is complete, Emma can send some
documents to the customer for review. Let’s say that some time goes by, and the
company wins the contract. Emma negotiates the contract with the customer,
and uploads the final contract into Alfresco. This uploads the contract into Alfresco. Now Emma wants to notify Engineering that
they’re free to begin working on this project. Let me show you another way to send notifications
inside Alfresco. Let’s open the properties of the contract,
and set it to its final, Released state. Changing the status to Released will trigger
an email that gets sent to Engineering, letting them know that work can now begin on this
project. This is just a simple Alfresco rule that I
created that looks at the status, and sends an email to a predefined user if the status
is set to Released. Let’s log out of Alfresco and get into Outlook
to see the email. I’ve switched to Ellen’s inbox. Here’s the email that was sent to Engineering. I’ve customized this email notification
a little bit for this demo, but I’d like to point out that it didn’t require any
programming. Email notification templates are simply HTML
files stored in the repository. You can even store a custom logo on the Alfresco
server and point to it in the email template, just like I’ve done here. Ellen now knows that she’s free to begin
work on this project. She can click the link inside the email to
be taken directly to the contract. Ellen’s been working on some AutoCAD drawings
for a while, and she has them in her home folder. Let’s just copy those files from her home
folder into the project folder Let’s go take a look at these drawings. If I refresh the browser we’ll see thumbnails
for these drawings. These are standard AutoCAD files, and the
Formtek EDM Module gives us the ability to view thumbnails of the drawings, and to see
previews of the drawings as well. Let me show you one more workflow example. This example will show you how a user can
work with Alfresco Mobile to complete a workflow. Ellen wants someone to compare these drawings
to what’s in place at the customer site. Sam, one of the company’s salespeople, has
an upcoming site visit. Ellen’s going to generate a PDF version
of this drawing, and ask Sam to compare the PDF file to the customer site. This main drawing is actually made up of 4
separate drawings: the base drawing plus 3 external reference drawings. You can see from the thumbnails on the previous
page that each drawing contains a separate piece of the overall drawing. I’m going to use the Generate Complete Drawing
command to combine everything into a single drawing And, since Sam doesn’t use AutoCAD, Ellen
can give him a PDF version of the drawing. Once that’s finished, I can click View Complete
Drawing to view it. Now we see a PDF version of the complete drawing. We can click Download Original to save the
PDF version. This downloads the PDF file, which I can see
in the bottom of my browser. I’m going to go back up one folder, and
drag that PDF file into my folder to check it in to Alfresco. Now I’m going to start a workflow for this
drawing, and assign it to Sam. This will generate an email to Sam letting
him know that he’s been assigned a task. We’ve seen enough emails today, so let’s
just go into the mobile app and see how Sam can work with this file on-site. Here’s my tablet showing Alfresco Mobile. This is an Android tablet, but Alfresco Mobile
is also available for iPads, iPhones, or Android phones. I’m logged to Alfresco as Sam. I can do a lot of things from the mobile app,
like navigate through Alfresco, view drawings and documents, start new workflows, or complete
existing workflows. Let’s take a look at Sam’s workflows. We can see the task that Ellen just created. Let’s open the drawing. I’m going to choose the “open in” command
to open the PDF file. This will give me a menu of all of the applications
on my device that are capable of reading this file. I’m going to choose FoxIt. This is a cool PDF editor that I’ve been
using for a while. I downloaded it for free from the Google Play
Store. Once the drawing opens, Sam can compare the
drawing to the site, and make some notes. Let’s say that Sam sees something wrong
with the bolts, so he needs to add a note to the drawing. If I hit the back button a few times, it’ll
save my changes, and take me back to Alfresco. Alfresco Mobile will recognize that the drawing
has changed, and ask me if I want to upload it back to Alfresco. Let’s go back to the task and mark it as
complete. Sam’s portion of the workflow is now done. Let’s go check Ellen’s email, and we’ll
see that she’s been notified that the task is complete. Here we can see the email notifying her that
the task is complete. However, instead of going back into Alfresco
to see the task, let’s take a look at the task inside Outlook. Let me quickly explain something about Outlook
here. For demo purposes, I’m using Outlook to
monitor 4 different email addresses, but obviously that’s not how people would use Outlook
in real life. The Alfresco Outlook Client has to be configured
to connect to Alfresco via a single Alfresco account. Here, I’ve configured the Outlook Client
to connect to Alfresco as Ellen. I’ve had the Alfresco sidebar turned off
for the beginning of the demo. I’ll turn it on now using the button in
the top menu. You can see that there are two main tabs here:
Explore and Workflow. Let’s look at the Workflow tab for now;
we’ll come back to the Explore tab in a few minutes. I’ll click Refresh to get the latest workflow
information. Scrolling over, I can see more details about
the workflow, and by clicking on the workflow, it’ll take me into Alfresco where I can
see Sam’s note on the task I can click the document to get to the updated
PDF file. Using the built-in previewer, we can see Sam’s
notes directly on the drawing, and Ellen can decide if there’s anything that she needs
to do to her drawings based on what’s going on at the customer site. Let’s go back into Outlook and see some
more features of the Alfresco Outlook Client. Installing the Alfresco Outlook Client adds
a separate “Alfresco Client” menu to Outlook. From this menu, you can configure the Alfresco
Outlook Client, choose a language, show or hide the sidebar, and archive emails and attachments. The Archive Directly functionality allows
you to file the selected emails in Alfresco. It’s also available from the Sidebar, and
from the right-click menu. As we saw before, the Workflow tab allows
you to work with existing workflows. The Explore tab allows you to navigate through
Alfresco. The various icons at the top allow you to
control the scope of your searches, change the way information is displayed in the window below,
and choose between simple and advanced searching. We’ll see how some of these features work
in a moment. Let’s take a look at how we can use the
Outlook Client to store email messages in Alfresco. Here’s an email from Ernie containing an
addendum to the estimates for the ACME project. Ellen doesn’t want to store the message, but she
wants to check the spreadsheet in to Alfresco. Let’s go up, and then navigate back down
to see the most recent information in the repository. Then, let’s navigate to the Cost and Budget
folder and let’s drag the attachment in. That’s all it takes to check an attachment
in to Alfresco from Outlook. Let’s see another quick example. Ellen has an email in her Inbox from a contact
at the ACME Box Company. Her contact sent her some site drawings. This is great information to have, including
the contact information, so Ellen wants to save the whole message in Alfresco so that
it’ll be available to everyone. Let’s get into the project folder and create
a new folder called Client Communications. The system will create the folder and navigate
into it. Let’s archive this email in Alfresco by
dragging it into the new folder. The archived email will appear as a message
in the Outlook Client. Note the small arrow to the right of the envelope
icon. Clicking the arrow will open the message and
display the content of the email, and show the attachments as children under the overall
message. There are different ways to archive emails
and attachments in Alfresco. Right now, I have the Outlook Client configured
to archive both the email message and the attachments automatically when someone drags
a message into the window. You can also configure the system to prompt
the user if they want to archive only the message, only the attachments, or both. By right-clicking on an attachment, I have
many options available to me: From here, I can email the document as a link,
which is useful for emailing someone inside the company who can click on the link to see
the document in Alfresco. Or, I can email the document as an attachment,
which is good for sharing a document with someone outside the company. I can also add the document to my favorites,
or start a workflow. Clicking the Start Workflow option will bring
up a window that offers me the same workflow options that are available inside the browser
version of Alfresco. I can also download a PDF version of a document,
or the original version of the document. Please note that downloading PDF versions
of AutoCAD files requires the Formtek EDM Module. I can also rename or delete the document,
or I can click the Details option to go into Alfresco and see the Document Details page
for this item. Search capabilities are also available from
the Outlook Client. I’m going to search for documents that contain
the word “bid” in either text or metadata By default, it’ll search the entire repository,
and bring back a lot of documents and folders. Let’s navigate to a specific site and try
the search again. You can see that the number of results has dropped
because we’ve reduced the scope of our search. I can also search by file extension, like
DWG, to find AutoCAD drawings. Or, I can search for other words to find email
messages or attachments Note that the results for this particular search
contain messages, attachments, and documents. Let’s go back into the Alfresco UI. Let’s log Ellen out, and log back in as Emma,
and navigate to the Costs folder for this project. Emma wants to see some information about who
worked on this estimate spreadsheet, so let’s check out the Audit History command. The Audit History window shows information about all
of the actions that took place against this document. We can see the timestamp, the action, and
the user. For some actions, more detailed information
is available by clicking the MORE button. For instance, if we look at the oldest record, we can see
that Ernie created this document today at 1:03. Going back to the first page, we can see the
changes that Emma made to this document. She edited the document in MS Office at 13:06. And, Emma created the 1.1 version of this
document at 13:07. Additionally, by clicking the More button,
we can see information about when Ernie originally created the 1.0 version of the document, and
when Emma created the 1.1 version. We have a similar feature available for workflow history We don’t have a lot of workflows in this
system, so let’s just search for everything. Here we can see a list of the workflows in
the system, and we can click the Details link to see more information. Because this action allows you to see information
about other users’ workflows, this action is only available to Admin users. Let’s look at Alfresco searching. The simple search field is at the top right
corner of the UI. After entering a single word, Alfresco will
start displaying suggested search results for me. Just typing “Sean” automatically finds
the Site Drawings email that Ellen checked in from Sean earlier. It also finds sites and people that contain
that text. Entering the word “bid” automatically
finds documents that contain that word. If I want to narrow things down farther, I
can hit Enter to be taken to a special search results screen where I can narrow down the
search results. Here, you’ll see options to narrow down
the search by various attributes such as Creator, File Type, Site, and so on. Clicking an item on the left will filter the
search results by the item that you selected. To clear the filter, just select the checkmark. We also have an Advanced Search screen that
gives us the ability to search on specific fields of custom or standard document types. From here, I can choose different content
types to see their custom search screens, and search on individual fields. Let’s look for Contracts with a status of
Released. And this brings back all documents that meet
my criteria. Let’s talk about Alfresco sites now. Information in Alfresco can be organized into sites,
like the ABC Demo site that we’re using today. You can create as many sites in Alfresco as
you like. Some companies like to create one site per
project, or one site per department. Some companies like to have a single site
that contains all of their projects, like the way we did for today’s demo, plus separate
sites for departments like HR or Purchasing. Sites have dashboards that are made up of
smaller dashlets, which are configurable by the Site Manager. This site has been configured with the company
logo, a file type breakdown chart that gives us information about what kinds of documents
are in the system, a Site Calendar, and Site Activities and Site Content dashlets. The Site Activities dashlet allows users to
have more visibility into what kinds of work their coworkers are doing within the site. The Site Calendar is a nice way to keep people
up to date on events and activities that are related to the site. For instance, we can see several listings
about upcoming customer site visits. Alfresco also provides robust Wiki and Blog
and Discussion tools as well. Users can use those tools to share information
with coworkers in a structured fashion. Thanks for watching. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more
about any of the products that we’ve shown today.