A workflow can spawn parallel activities by creating separate (sub) tickets. These parallel tickets are often assigned to other agents so that multiple team members can progress the workflow efficiiently.
Visualization in the Workflow Assistant
The workflow definition can specify that one or more parallel tickets should be created automatically at the point of transitioning from a completed activity to the next activity. After the transition the workflow assistant will display these parallel tickets in a separate collapsible section beneath the current activity.
Navigating to Parallel Tickets
The names of the parallel tickets are hyperlinks.
a) Hovering over a link displays a tool tip containing the name/description suffixed by the Zendesk ticket id :
b) And clicking on a link opens the parallel ticket in a new Zendesk ticket tab :
Let's focus in on some areas of interest in the above image,
The Workflow Assistant
There is a single simple activity to be performed. We can tell that we are on a parallel ticket by the presence of the parent ticket link above the current activity
Parallel Ticket Subject
The generated name for the subject gives another clue that this is a parallel ticket. It uses the name of the activity suffixed with the parent ticket name and its id
The New Employeee Liason activity definition specifies that it must be carried out by the "Human Resources" group. Therefore this assignment was made automatically when the parent workflow created the parallel ticket.
Blocking Parallel Tickets
A feature of parallel tickets is that they can prevent their parent ticket workflow from transitioning to a following activity. Exactly how and when this happens depends on the precise workflow definition.
A common use case is that there is a single onward transition on the parent ticket that is blocked until all its parallel tickets are complete.
Here we can see that the next activity is not available. This could be because the transition has ticket data quality conditions that have yet to be met but if we use the chevron to expand the next activity ...
... we see that the parallel tickets have now moved into the transition tongue to indicate that these are the reason for the blockage. The transition to "Team Introductions" will only become available when both these parallel tickets have been solved.
[ Strictly speaking it is when the workflows on the parallel tickets are "complete" that the transition becomes available. In this case the parallel tickets are simple single activity workflows that are "status controlled" which forces the ticket to be solved on their completion. So "solved" and "complete" are equivalent.]
In the above example the workflow was defined so that both parallel tickets blocked the selection of the next activity, ie they both needed to be complete before the "Team Introductions" transition was available for selection. But this is not always the case. The exact behaviour will depend on when and where the parallel tickets have been defined to branch and rejoin their parent workflow.
Workflows can be defined to have "longer lived" parallel tickets that rejoin at at transition several activities further down in their parent workflow. This allows the parent ticket to transition through one or more activities before this subsequent transition is reached. At which point the transition will be blocked if the parallel ticket is still incomplete
Finally a parallel ticket is defined to rejoin at a specific onward transition. This means that if an activity has a choice of onward transtions an incomplete parallel ticket can independently block one transition whilst other transitions are still available.
Parallel Activities with Richer Workflows
The above examples spawned parallel tickets that needed only one activity to be completed. But parallel tickets can be defined to execute "mini" workflows in their own right. In other words, they require multiple sequenced activities to be performed before they are considered to be complete (just like their parent workflow).
Parallel workflows can employ all the same behaviour as a main workflow. [So, in fact. it is possible for a parallel ticket's workflow to spawn further parallel ticket as the agent transitions through its activities.]
Lets imagine the workflow definition for the above example has been enhanced so that several activities now need to be performed on the "Systems & Facilities Provision" parallel ticket.
When a parallel ticket consists of more than one activity, the representation of their status in the parent workflow assistant changes slightly to show percentage completion in the form of a small progress bar.
The percentage is only an estimate based on activities completed so far, because the number of remaining activities to completion can vary depending on different possible transition paths through the workflow. It works best for linear workflows.
Once more we can see that the transition to "Team Introductions" has a grey bar and is not available for selection. Let's expand its chevron for more details :
Finally lets imagine the remaining activities for the "Systems & Facilities Provision" parallel ticket have now been completed.
Viewing Parallel Activities in the context of their Parent Workflow
The workflow information icon allows the agent to see graphically where they are in the overall workflow definition :
Lets imagine the agent clicks the information icon whilst part way through "Systems and Facilities Provision". This is being enacted on the parallel ticket spawned by the parent workflow, "Extended New Employee Onboarding"
A modal will showing the relevant workflow definition diagrams :
- A breadcrumb shows the relevant workflow levels in play
- The current actvity is highlighted in green on the diagram for the current (parallel ticket) workflow
- The breadcrumb is focused on the current parallel workflow diagram
- The workflow that spawned the parallel ticket is available for viewing by clicking the hyperlink
If we click the breadcrumb link to the parent workflow we see :
- The breadcrumb shows the relevant workflow levels in play
- The parallel actvity that has spawned the workflow on the other ticket is highlighted in purple
- The breadcrumb is now focused on the top level workflow diagram running on the parent ticket
- The parallel activity workflow can be viewed again by clicking its link in the breadcrumb.
Workflow definitions can be defined with multiple levels of parallel activities and/or subprocess activities. In these cases the breadcrumb will extend to show all relevant levels from the current activity back up to the top level workflow