May 17, 2010
How to Create and Use Interactive Questions
If your workflow is like most, you will more than likely have the necessity to ask questions at some point in the process. Service Manager can make stopping a save process by interjecting user interaction a difficult process.
There are many solutions to this. Each solution has a number of pros and cons associated with it. The key with any of the solutions is to intercept the save process prior to entering the normal processing.
Part I: Surveying the Solutions
Create a Wizard
If your process requires more than a single piece of information collected from your user, or your process has information that needs to be presented with visual formatting, creating a wizard may be the best alternative. Wizards may have one or more screens as well as a series of screens and information presented to the user. Additionally, wizards have the capability to perform branching, requesting dynamic content and even presenting process around cancelling from a wizard.
Out Of Box RAD Applications
Service Manager features a number of RAD applications that can request information from a user and return that data to the application.
Each application has subtle differences in the functionality and returned data or values. For our example, we are going to use the RAD application, object.yes.no to pose a question with a Yes or No reply to the user.
The object.yes.no takes several parameters:
- The first is the text parameter. Text contains the data or prompt to be presented to the user.
- The boolean1 value identifies whether the cancel button will be available as an option. Acceptable values for this are true or false.
- The prompt parameter contains the name of a Service Manager variable that will hold the response coming from this call.
The example above is being called from a Process record. Object.yes.no will only be called if there is data to be presented to the user, which is contained in the Service Manager variable $question. Since boolean1 is false, cancelling from this function is not an option. Lastly, the users response will be returned from object.yes.no through the Service Manager variable $returncode.
Place a Temporary Field on the Form
In some situations where screen real estate is not an issue and where you do not want to annoy the user with extra screen pops every time they perform an action, a field can be placed on the form that can initiate additional code at save time or can even stop or abort the process.
Several examples are illustrated below.
Notify Owner can initiate notification processing when the ticket is saved. The value behind the field can be a stored value in the database or can be provided as an interim transient value that disappears every time it is used.
Fields presented on tickets may have DEFAULT values, be required entry or may indicate optional workflow. This field, when selected, would perform the additional workflow needed to complete and close the ticket.
Which Solution is best?
Each one of these solutions is equally valid and useful. Which solution is best for your particular situation depends on your specific design and process needs. Some things to think about when selecting a solution:
- Do you want to prevent the user from taking an action until data is collected?
- Do you want to respond to a users action?
- Do you want to perform additional processing when an action is selected?
Part II: Where to Implement
If the solution requires a response before an action is taken (add, update, close) and the solution utilizes values on the form, format control may be the best location. Format Control can perform calculations on values, perform validation on a value or require additional validations dependent on data in other fields.
Format Control does not work well as a vehicle to conditionally prompt the user and alter workflow in the save process based on the user’s response.
Additionally, Processes may call other Processes and be linked together as required. Inserting a line into the beginning or the middle of an existing process may prove irritating. There is no insert command so each set of information below the insertion point would need to be moved by hand. Or, the new Process may be added as an additional record that calls the existing one. Be forewarned. If you choose to place your Process in front of another process, all calls to the original process will also need to be adjusted and changed.
Another option for implementing as a Process is to implement the call to your Process as a callout from your displayoption. Read on for how to deploy a Process via a Displayoption.
Display Options are invoked when a user presses a button or other type of event in Service Manager (eg: save). The display option may be self-contained or in turn execute a display action that invokes a Process. However, the display option may also call a single RAD application to perform some processing prior to execution of outside instructions. The result of any expressions or code executed as part of the display option may be used to alter the display action that is executed.
Display options may call any RAD application so it is also perfectly valid to invoke a wizard or interactive message box RAD application from here as well. The screen below illustrates the calling of a process from within a display option.
The example above shows a Change Display option that is calling a Process (my.message.functions) to request user interaction. Once the Process is complete, control will be passed back to this display option. If all has gone well, the intent it to execute the “save” display action in the upper right corner.
On the post expressions tab, the variable $returncode that was set in our process is being checked. If the user answered yes, the save is aborted by modifying our display action.
Putting It All Together
Now you have seen how different solutions and implementations may be used to assist in the deployment of interactivity in Service Manager. A solution may not offer the desired results in every situation so it is beneficial to know multiple ways to deploy eloquent solutions.
July 1, 2009
HP Service Manager 7.1
StrataCom has a new recorded demonstrattion of HP Service Manager 7.1. Have you…
- Been wondering what is new in HP Service Manager 7.1?
- Been thinking of upgrading/re-implementing but you want to see SM7 first?
- Have you been wanting to see a demonstration but not deal with a scheduled call?
All you have to do to watch the video is go to our Gotomeeting site, supply your name/email, and you can watch it at your leisure.
(You may have to install the codec too – it’s linked on that page).
June 29, 2009
Migrate? Re-implement? Upgrade?
Service Manager 7.1 is the latest release of the ServiceCenter line. Both internally and externally, there are many structural changes in Service Manager. If you have previously been on ServiceCenter and used its’ proprietary P4 database, the P4 database does not exist in any form on Service Manager.
The choice and the decision to re-implement reside with the business. However, there may be factors that will sway an organization from one side to the other.
Choosing the Path Right for You
Look at the age of your original implementation.
Has your application been repeatedly ported from one version of ServiceCenter to another and now you are finally looking at Service Manager? If your organization is upgrading to Service Manager from a version older than ServiceCenter 6.x, there may be huge benefits to gain from a re-implementation. With each release, the base implementation is improved and continually aligned with ITIL. There are also many backend infrastructural improvements that occur from release to release.
Look at the business processes that support your implementation.
While those processes may have been first class when you first implemented your Service Management solution, do they still support your organization as desired? Have you gone through and re-designed your processes to align them within the ITIL framework? Has your tool taken over driving your business processes because the implementation is too complex? Does your solution support the entire enterprise or just one portion of the users within your organization?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, your organization would benefit from a structural re-alignment of the business, business processes and the tool.