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Workflow Overview

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And now let’s introduce workflows, or as we’ve been calling them in this course, classic workflows. So what is a workflow? Workflow is a type of process in common data service designed to automate business processes without a user interface. People usually use workflow processes to initiate automation that doesn’t require any user interaction. The power of a workflow is that it is configurable. It’s easy to edit by consultants and users. It does not require developer’s expertise. It can be easily configured to automate business processes within an organisation. Workflows are declarative. They are built using the building blocks, like stages, conditions, and actions. Workflow Designer has a point-and-click user interface. Workflows are modular and reusable. Individual workflows can be saved as templates.
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And workflows can call other workflows. These workflows can then be packaged and distributed as part of a solution. Built on the powerful Windows Workflow Foundation, workflows and common data service are flexible. Using flexible patterns, workflows can be triggered or run manually. They are durable. Workflows can implement long running and waiting patterns, spending weeks, months, and even years. They are not affected by server shutdowns and reboots. They can be restarted and continued if necessary. Workflows are scalable. With the underlying engine built to scale, common data service instance can run thousands and thousands of workflow processes at the same time with low performance impact for the end user activities.
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Two types of workflows, we can run them in the background asynchronously, or in real time, synchronously. Background workflows run separately from the main operations. Calling background workflows return immediately while the workflow continues to execute in the background. Background workflow is a good choice if results are not needed right away or not expected right away, wait conditions might be needed, the operation is long running, and if it does not matter when exactly the workflow will run, for example, if that workflow sends an email. Real-time workflow runs in the context of a CDS operation, such as create or update. Real-time workflow does not return control until its execution is complete.
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Real-time workflows would be a good choice if those results are needed right away, if that workflow is very simple, if we need transaction support and need to be able to cancel the operation if required, if we do not need to wait, and if we need to see values before the operation happens, such as update. Workflows can be configured to run on-demand. Users, when using a model driven app, will be able to select records and use run workflow command to execute the workflow. This is a good choice for workflows where the decision whether to run a process is it user’s responsibility, such as escalate a case. You can start as a child workflow.
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Other workflow processes will be able to call it as one of the actions. Using child workflow is a great option to reuse common functionality, for example, sending email notifications. Or workflows can be started automatically when certain events occur in the system, for example, when a record is created, updated, or deleted, or when the status of a record changes, or a record is assigned. For example, you may want to execute certain actions like initiating a customer survey when a customer support request is resolved. I briefly mentioned the workflow building blocks. Let’s talk a little bit more about those. We have the Workflow Designer used to create and edit workflows. When configuring your workflows, you have these following things to consider.
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What is the target entity? Each running instance of a workflow will be associated with a record of this selected entity. Should the workflow run as real time or background? When do we want this workflow to start? Are they triggered manually, automatically in response to certain system events? What actions do we want this workflow to perform? Some of our available choices are create and update records, assigning records, changing statuses, sending emails, stopping workflows, calling custom activities, and so on. And then under what conditions would we want this workflow to be performed? Workflows allow you to check the data and use conditional execution.
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It allows you to wait for certain field values, like activity status or wait for a specified time, use complex combination of conditions, for example, wait for the case to be resolved or three days, whichever happens first. Workflow Designer makes it easy to create and edit powerful workflows to automate complex business processes. Custom actions are a type of process very similar to real-time workflows. They have similar properties created and edited in the Workflow Editor and use the same building blocks, stages, conditions, and actions. Unlike workflows, actions can have input and output parameters, and they need to be invoked from another business process. Developers can use the action message like any of the other messages provided by the platform.
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Actions provide great mechanism to encapsulate common functionality and define a single message that matches an operation that you need to perform for your business, like escalate, convert, schedule, route, or approve anything you need. Administrators also have tools at their disposal to monitor and control runtime execution of the workflow processes. Administrators can monitor the running processes. They can find the instances that have failed. And they can control running instances by using cancel, resume, postpone, and pause execution. The new Power Apps Admin Control Centre has detailed common data service for apps analytics that provide administrators with the snapshot across the board, including most active processes, failing processes, and other runtime statistics.
Workflow is a type of process in Common Data Service designed to automate business processes without a user interface.
People usually use workflow processes to initiate automation that doesn’t require any user interaction. The power of a workflow is that it is configurable and it’s easy to edit by consultants and users. It does not require a developer’s expertise. It can be easily configured to automate business processes within an organisation.
Workflows are declarative. They are built using building blocks like stages, conditions, and actions. Workflow Designer has a point and click user interface. Workflows are modular and reusable. Individual workflows can be saved as templates and workflows can call other workflows.
These workflows can then be packaged and distributed as part of a solution. Built on the powerful Windows Workflow foundation, workflows in Common Data Service are flexible. Using flexible patterns, workflows can be triggered or run manually. They are durable.
Workflows can implement long-running and waiting patterns spanning weeks, months, and even years. They are not affected by server shutdowns and reboots and they can be restarted and continued if necessary.
Workflows are scalable. With the underlying engine built to scale, Common Data Service instance can run thousands and thousands of workflow processes at the same time with low-performance impact for the end-user activities.
In the next step, we will watch a demonstration of creating a workflow.
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