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 efficiently.
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.
When the workflow running on a parallel ticket has completed, a green tick is displayed instead.
Navigating to Parallel Tickets
The names of the parallel tickets are hyperlinks.
Hovering over a link displays a tool tip containing the name/description suffixed by the Zendesk ticket ID:
Clicking on a link opens the parallel ticket in a new Zendesk ticket tab.
The Workflow Assistant for a Parallel ticket
The workflow assistant for parallel tickets is very similar to normal tickets, but it includes details and a link to the parent ticket.
In this case, the Workflow and the Activity running on the parallel ticket are both named 'Handle HR'.
Parallel tickets like this will always have a link back to the parent ticket. Clicking this link will open the parent ticket in a new ticket tab (or switch to an existing one).
Parallel Ticket Subject
You can explicitly define the subject to be assigned to a parallel ticket in the workflow model definition. If you do not define a subject to use, a default will be generated which follows this pattern
<Parallel Workflow Name> for <Parent Ticket Subject> (#<Parent Ticket ID>)
- Parallel Workflow Name - is the name given to the Parallel Activity (in this case Handle HR)
- Parent Ticket Subject - is the subject from the parent ticket
- Parent Ticket ID - is the ID of the parent ticket
for a parent ticket ID 1234, and Subject Onboarding Jon Smith, we'd generate
Handle HR for Onboarding Jon Smith (#1234)
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.
When a transition is blocked by incomplete parallel tickets, the transition will be greyed and not available for selection. There will typically be a chevron at the right hand end of the transition section. Clicking the chevron will expand this section and show details of why the transition is unavailable.
If the transition is unavailable due to parallel ticket being incomplete, these will be listed.
Above we see that there are incomplete parallel tickets (Handle HR), but the Prepare to Welcome transition is available. Transitioning to Prepare to Welcome, we then see the following
Clicking the chevron will show the reason the transition is unavailable
The parallel ticket are now shown against the transition to indicate that these need to be completed for this transition to be available.
Workflows can be defined to have "longer lived" parallel tickets that re-join 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 re-join at a specific onward transition. This means that if an activity has a choice of onward transitions an incomplete parallel ticket can independently block one transition whilst other transitions are still available.
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"
- Clicking the information icon allows the agent to view where this parallel ticket currently resides within the overall workflow diagram definition (1).
A modal will showing the relevant workflow definition diagrams :
2. A breadcrumb shows the relevant workflow levels in play.
3. The current activity is highlighted in green on the diagram for the current (parallel ticket) workflow.
4. The breadcrumb is focused on the current parallel workflow diagram.
5. 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 :
6. The breadcrumb shows the relevant workflow levels in play
7. The parallel activity that has spawned the workflow on the other ticket is highlighted in purple
8. The breadcrumb is now focused on the top level workflow diagram running on the parent ticket
9. The parallel activity workflow can be viewed again by clicking its link in the breadcrumb.
Note: 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.
The workflow assistant uses information stored in a database to show details of the workflow that is running on the ticket. If multiple workflows run on the ticket, it only shows details of the current workflow. When the ticket is solved and ultimately closed, the details of the workflows that have run on the ticket are deleted from the database.
As workflows run on a ticket, summary details of what has happened are recorded in the audit history of the ticket. Details that are recorded are
- When a workflow is started on a ticket
- Parallel child tickets that are created (from the parent point of view)
- Details of the parent ticket (from the parallel child point of view).
Click the Workflow Audit icon to show the audit details.
The workflow assistant for a closed ticket. There is no current workflow to show details of in the assistant, but you can still click the Workflow Audit icon to see the audit details.
This is the audit view for a ticket. In this case, we can see that the 'Onboarding' workflow was run on the ticket and two parallel tickets were created called 'Handle HR' and 'Handle IT'. These parallel child links can be clicked to open the parallel ticket in a new ticket tab.
This is the audit view for a parallel ticket. In this case, we can see that the 'Handle IT' workflow was run on the parallel ticket. There is a link to the parent 'Onboarding' ticket. We also see that this parallel ticket has no parallel children of its own.
NOTE: Gathering this audit information requires the audit details of the ticket to be looked up. If there are a lot of audit records for the ticket (more than 600), then the lookup will be aborted and an error message displayed. Given that there may be a lot of audit data to search through, the Workflow Audit Details are cached in the workflow assistant. If changes occur which would modify this audit data (for example a new parallel ticket is created), this will not be reflected in the Workflow Audit Details until you refresh the browser or rerun the workflow assistant.