Troubleshooting Actionable Email Errors in Oracle BPM 11g

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Troubleshooting Actionable Email
Errors in Oracle BPM 11g

By: Karla Broadrick | Technical Architect

One of the features available in BPM 11g allows the sending of actionable email notifications.  In addition to notifying the user that a workflow task has been assigned to them, the email allows users to approve or reject tasks directly from the email without the need to log into BPM Workspace.

There are several requirements that must be met in order for the actionable email to be processed correctly.

  • The response must be received while the workflow task is still in the same queue from which the email notification was sent. If a user tries to send a response after the task has already been approved or rejected, the response will generate an error.
  • The response email must be sent from the same email address to which the original actionable email notification was sent. This means that if the original email is forwarded to a secondary recipient and then approved from the new email address, the response will not be accepted.

If either of these two conditions is not met, the user may receive an automated system email notifying them that their response was not processed correctly. For example:

Error encountered while processing notification response :

The response message is not from the original account to which notification had been sent. Actionable notifications should be responded from the same account to which it had been sent.”

Recently, we were troubleshooting this error message that a user was continually receiving whenever they approved or rejected an email.  Initial investigation showed that the task was assigned to the user in question and was still in the queue waiting to be approved.

Upon further investigation of the outgoing and incoming notifications, it was found that the original email was sent to address xyz123@abccompany.org while the response to the email was received from email address first.last@abccompany.org.  While both email addresses were associated with the same user, an alias was being used in the email system to relate the two.  However, BPM did not have any knowledge of this association.  The system sent the original email to xyz123@abccompany.org and expected the response to come from the same email address.  When the response came from a different email address it was not processed.

In order to prevent the issue from occurring again, the active directory setup for the user needed to be changed to point to the correct email address of first.last@abccompany.org .  Once corrected, the actionable email responses processed as expected.

Contact Karla or TekStream Today

Troubleshooting An Actionable Email Error in Oracle BPM 11g

IT Consulting: A Comparison Between Two Different Worlds

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IT Consulting:
A Comparison Between Two Different Worlds

By. Biplab Panda | Project Manager

In reading the title of this blog post, you are probably thinking to yourself, “what is that supposed to mean?” Let me try to address this up front. In this post, we will be discussing at a high level:

  1. My impressions from previously working at a large, technology-agnostic IT consulting firm comprised of over 100,000 employees spanning a worldwide organization.
  2. My impressions now working at TekStream Solutions, a small, boutique Oracle IT consulting firm comprised of around 100 employees located in the United States.
  3. Comparison between a small subset of the challenges, and methodologies employed by both firms.
  4. Conclusion from my experience that in some ways size does matter but in other important ways it does not.

When I worked at the large professional services firm, processes were regimented and templates were used wherever and whenever possible. This had both its advantages and its drawbacks. From a strategic view, it was less important that every client-specific business process or unique business rule was accommodated than it was that wherever possible, an SDLC implementation (using the same technology and fulfilling the same high level business requirements) from one client to the next utilized the same approach and methodology.

That is not to say there weren’t exceptions (consulting wouldn’t be consulting without those!) or that every client-specific business requirement was not captured or put in to a project change request. Instead, we had and were expected to use our leverage to preserve standardization. Specifically, we had the leverage to be able to tell and sell to the client that we have done X successfully Y number of times across Z clients – we strongly recommend that you utilize our approach. In general, this strategy worked well in that codebases could be deployed across clients with minimal customization. This came at the cost of the happiness of some business users who felt that their specific needs were not being addressed.

Additionally, there were several projects I worked on where re-work was needed because the functionality that was implemented did not work for some use cases because specific business requirements conflicted with what was done. The flip side is that the firm was able to dedicate entire project teams to one client and only one client, which helped to foresee and identify these situations earlier rather than later. In any case, this problem is one that tends to come up in a lot of projects, but I did see this come up more frequently when working at the larger firm. However, given the scale of the organization, this may have been seen as an acceptable and indeed necessary level of risk needed to be absorbed in order to operate efficiently at a large scale.

Working at TekStream Solutions gives me a different perspective on how to approach and tackle some of the same challenges and opportunities I encounter in working with my clients. On the one hand, I do not have dedicated support staff to handle administrative functions that project managers at a larger firm would have. On the other hand, precisely because the firm is so small I have direct access to executive level resources to whom I can quickly escalate issues. Again, this has both its advantages and its drawbacks and colors the interactions I have with clients differently. However, the end goal is the same – successfully deliver and deliver to the client’s satisfaction.

At TekStream Solutions, as a focused Oracle software consulting services provider, we have the advantage of working with clients who already have the expectation up front as to exactly what technology will be utilized on a given implementation. So although the TekStream Solutions requirements gathering phase (QuickStream) process is much shorter the process used at the larger firm, from the beginning in the high level requirements all the way downstream throughout the life cycle of the project, we are able to focus more on addressing client-specific customizations and business requirements. Given the access to executive-level escalation points I mentioned earlier, deviations from project scope tend to be more swiftly addressed and execution of project change request and client acceptance can occur in an order of days, not weeks.

This approach comes at the cost of sometimes spending more development cycles in burning effort to meet custom requirements than always is beneficial strictly from a margin perspective, but in my experience has come with the benefit of gaining a lot of client goodwill in our sensitivity to their specific needs and business use cases. Re-work tends to also be avoided when as many use cases as possible are addressed before development starts.

In conclusion, in working at a large IT consulting services firm and at TekStream Solutions, I have seen different tactics utilized to address different strategic objectives, but the end goal is the same. One can certainly make the case that, were TekStream Solutions as large as the consulting firm I had previously worked at, its methodologies would need to adapt in some fashion in order to successfully operate at the same scale. This point granted, generally both kinds of organizations leverage their competitive advantages with clients in order to accomplish the same objective – deliver on time, on budget, to the customer’s satisfaction.

My hope is that the reader can come away from this post with a couple of points that he or she may find useful to keep in mind when working through similar situations in his or her organization and gain insight as to what may be a viable way to handle a challenge by leveraging his or her organization’s strengths.

Contact Biplab or TekStream Today

IT Consulting - A Comparison Between Two Different Worlds

Spring Cleaning Your Content: Essential Content Audit Techniques and Questions

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Spring Cleaning Your Content:
Essential Content Audit Techniques and Questions

By: Seth Ely | Solutions Analyst

It happens to almost everyone. Time for spring cleaning comes around and you decide it’s time to organize the garage, attic or basement. Once you undertake this organization project you may find that there are items that are completely obsolete (Pentium 2 computer parts), items that you forgot you had (an ab roller), and items that have been looking for but couldn’t find (your high school yearbook). Even though we own these items and most likely moved them all to their current location, our knowledge and understanding of the things we are managing can be somewhat flawed. A similar dynamic is often true of organizations who attempt to employ a comprehensive content strategy or structure content that was previously unstructured.

In order for an Enterprise Content Management strategy to be effective, models for security, metadata, and workflow need to be created which can facilitate the existing content and associated processes within an organization. However, a frequent problem in creating scalable Content Models is that the breadth and depth of content that will need to be managed is not fully known or understood.

In these cases, it is important to perform an Enterprise Content Audit. The audit of the content is designed to get a high-level list of the types of content in the organization and capture details about how the content is used. This exercise has direct inputs to the Content Model that will be created as part of the overall Content Strategy.

The Enterprise Content Audit can logically be broken into two main parts: Content Inventory and Content Analysis which are described below:

Content Inventory

When looking into the types of content that a particular organization utilizes, the source systems can vary widely from legacy content systems, to shared drives, to email.

It is important to have a really good profile of the content that exists within the organization. That being said, there is no one way to take inventory of the content. There is a continuum of detail from a full inventory, to a sample inventory, to a set of disparate examples that can all be part of the inventory process.

The ideal is to for the analyst to have access to the source systems and locations that currently house content. This will allow for automated processes to be used to profile the content and obtain various metrics that can inform the Content Analysis.

If the Content is exposed via a consumption site, the site can be indexed with a crawler to provide information about the presentation layer for the content. If there is a legacy system, techniques such as a dump of the database or an export can yield the desired information. In the case where content is on individual workstations, email, etc., it may only be possible to get example files.

The most important thing is to turn over enough rocks that the analyst has an accurate picture of the types of content that are present and can glean ancillary information about the content. This is the same process that happens when we start looking through boxes in our basements; by actually looking in the boxes, we learn things that we never would have known just relying on our memory and perceptions.

These learnings can then be used as a framework to drive the deeper content analysis process. In the absence of this step there is substantial risk that the rocks will be overturned after the Models have been established and introduce risk of substantial rework.

Content Analysis

As an output of the content inventory, there should be a high-level list of categories or grouping of content. For each of these groupings a number of questions can help define the Content Model and other specifications for a Content Management Implementation.

Below is a sample set of questions that can be used to elicit the type of information needed to create the full content model (metadata, security, workflow) and other specifications for a Content Management Implementation. For each of these questions, the as-is and to-be needs to be taken into consideration. Some of these questions can be partially answered based on the Content Inventory, others require stakeholder input.

  1. Where are these currently stored? (migration, integration)
  2. Who has to access these?  (security)
  3. What is this content used for?  What information do you use to find these? (metadata)
  4. How is this content currently organized?  (metadata)
  5. Where do the go to access these? (information architecture, consumption)
  6. Who can edit these? (security)
  7. Is there an approval process for these? (workflow)
  8. How long do you keep these? (retention)
  9. How many of these currently exist? (migration)
  10. How many of these are created each month? (performance)

It makes sense to capture the analysis details on the basis of the content inventory. Once we have these details, we can then begin the exercise of creating the models in the areas highlighted above. The business/functional user does not need to fully understand these concepts initially, but this process will create a model that allows that the system to be modeled according to the functional directives as expressed through the interview process. This is the most efficient and accurate way to establish requirements for a content-driven project.

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Essential Content Audit Techniques & Questions