How the process of customer orders can be automated

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Product Orders Process Automation

This application is about a "tailor-made goods company". The requirement of the application is to automate the "procedure" of "customer's order". This means that the successive "steps" of the procedure are automatically forwarded from one employee to another without any kind of "manager" intervention. At any time the manager has the ability to see on what tasks (steps) the employs are engaged. After a certain period of time, the manager has a complete report on what tasks each employee has been assigned, when has started and when has finished the tasks.


The requirements, put on the application from the supposed "tailor-made goods company" owner, are the following:


"Every employee can put "orders" from customers. The "order" contains the customer's name and a number of products, that are only tailor-made and not ready on the selves. The construction of goods starts (all at the same time) but its obvious that are completed at different times. As soon as the last good constructed the "order" is packaged and shipped to the customer. That's all."


All of the above requirements are put on a coordinator agent. The action_code of the agent is the following:




   call bpm_setprocedureowner(__activation_user)                   {.....set the procedure owner}


   {(1)....any user can put a new customer order}


   callwait bpm_assign_job ( "new order" , __activation_user , "" , 0)


   ord_id = bpm_getrecid(1,__au_step)                           {......get the record id of the service request}

   customer = LookUp("ORDER","ORDER",ord_id,"CUSTOMER","")


   call bpm_setprocedurecomment(customer)                           {.....set the procedures comment}


   {...................................put all product in array variables}

   start_sql "_DAT" "KOSMOS"






   call RunEmbSQL("_DAT",ord_id)

   q = QueryByName("_DAT")

   count = TRecordCount(q) ,


   call TFirst(q)

   for i = 1 to count


       prod_id[i] = TGetFld(q,"PRODUCT")

       prod = TGetFld(q,"PRODUCT_NAME")

       quant = TGetFld(q,"QUANTITY")


       comm[i] = strcat("PROD=", prod, " Q=", quant )


       call TNext(q)


   call FreeEmbSQL("_DAT")


   {..................................start the production of products (all start at the same time}

   split_for i = 1 to count


       {(2)....construct every product requested ...parallel split}


       call bpm_setstepcomment(comm[i])

       callwait bpm_assign_job ( "construct product" , "" , "PRODUCTION" , 0 , prod_id[i] )




   {(3)....when all products have been constructed then ship the order}


   callwait bpm_assign_job ( "ship order" , "" , "TRANSPORTATION" , 0 , ord_id )




We can see the callwait (or split_in_branch) keywords. Those keywords give the opportunity to the agent to wait (until a job has been finished) or to have parallel code execution. Those are capabilities that are not presented every day in a programming language (ok script!). Notice that the callwait "calls" the user's activity as it would be a "program's subroutine". Notice also that we have a flow of procedure that is defined by conditions into the code. This is a case of ad hoc control flow (not known in advance to the programmer!)


We have to admit that the effect (coordination and historic data collection of the procedure) is far too big for the lines of code that are written by the application programmer. To be precise the code is a little bigger (the agent contains the code that "describes" the task (activities) assigned to employees). 

The agent (agent prototype precisely) can be viewed form Right Mouse Click on Application's Background->Developer->Resources->Agent Prototypes. The system creates, for every "service" requested, a new "alive" agent that starts to execute his action_code.


Where we define users and roles?


Another issue is that the jobs are assigned to users (employees) not only by name but also (and mainly) by their roles into the company. The users and roles as they are defined into the application can be found at Menu->System->Users/Positions.


How we activate the agent?


A "new customer complaint" can be activated on the application from the "New Action" button in the left on the application window. In order the users see the activities (jobs) that are assigned to them exit the demo application and log in as the user in question. 


How can the user see the incoming jobs?


Every user has the incoming activities window defined as "Tasks" in the menu. Notice that the same activity is sent to all users that happen to have the same role in the company or organization. When the user "completes" the data that the activity required, he/she "forwards" the completed activity to the next step. Then the activity disappears from the window.


In order for a user to see activities that assigned to him for today or are uncompleted from yesterday, he/she has to activate "Finished Tasks".


How the manager can see the current jobs?


By activating Menu->CPO Control Panel->Active Tasks we see every activity (job) that is assigned at the time and is in the phase of completion, i.e. presented to users "incoming activities" and are worked by them.


How we can evaluate our employees?


When we activate Menu->System->Associates we can see a button captioned "Has Done". By activating it we get all the activities that the user (employee) has finished and by which role. The time of staring and completing each activity is also available. This way the real effort that the user has given to the company can be estimated.


How we can improve the demo application?


The demo application comes with "Developer" capabilities. That means we have the opportunity to change the database schema (Right Click->Developer->Resources->Database Manager->Edit Schema). We can also change the forms (Right Click over a form->Designing).