Many companies want to automate their human resources processes (HR) resulting in tangible cost savings and streamlining regulatory compliance. The complexity of the HR processes makes developing the workflows difficult, but for companies across
Australasia, PayGlobal has a solution. PayGlobal’s Exolvo software has pre-built workflows that adhere to local best practices that are ready for rapid installation and easy customization or changes to suit specific company requirements. PayGlobal uses Visual
Studio Premium 2012 to build Exolvo because it provides the functionality to help PayGlobal develop and maintain its substantial workflows in significantly less time.
Founded in 1991 in Christchurch, New Zealand, PayGlobal offers a suite of human resources (HR) and payroll management software to companies in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. The PayGlobal solution, called Exolvo, helps companies implement HR processes
according to industry standard best practices and local regulations. Offered on-premise and hosted, Exolvo has 15 available modules that provide extensive workflows for functions such as payroll and time and attendance along with comprehensive business intelligence
and reporting capabilities.
||Our consultants will be up to twenty percent more productive when working on the workflows developed with Workflow Foundation 4.5.
| Mike Nooney
PayGlobal’s workflow team develops the application so that clients can use the workflows out of the box. Yet, they are also designed to be readily customized to match an individual client’s needs. In fact, PayGlobal has a network of consultants that work with
clients to set up the system and make any custom changes during the commissioning process.
PayGlobal released the Exolvo platform in 2011. It developed Exolvo using Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoft technologies such as Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0 and Windows Communication Framework. With the advances in Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0, such
as the Workflow Activity Model, PayGlobal could develop Exolvo using a workflow engine rather than hard-coded application logic.
The consultants, who are subject matter experts on the business processes, use a rehosted version of Windows Workflow Designer to edit the workflows. PayGlobal provides a rehosted designer as a Windows Presentation Foundation application with a limited scope
of functionality, but adds a toolbox stocked with high-level domain specific activities the consultants need to change the workflows.
The move to Windows Workflow Foundation was a major change for PayGlobal and required training its consultants to use Workflow Designer. To make this process easier, PayGlobal wanted additional functionality to help its consultants review and more easily
modify the workflows when they needed to provide customization.
PayGlobal became an early adopter of Visual Studio Premium 2012 to take advantage of the new capabilities in Windows Workflow Foundation 4.5. It found that the Workflow Designer, the interface for building workflows in Visual Studio, had updates that would
significantly help PayGlobal develop the large, complex workflows that it creates.
PayGlobal developers and its consultants have benefitted from the following improvements in Workflow Designer:
Designer Annotations– PayGlobal developers and consultants can add annotations to activities, states, nodes, variables, and arguments. “The annotation feature will help other consultants understand the workflow logic I have configured or
highlight where settings can be changed,” says Cameron McNabb, Professional Services Consultant, PayGlobal.
Designer Search–PayGlobal developers save time searching large workflows using keywords.
Pan Mode–“Navigating a large workflow can be cumbersome using the scroll bars so the ability to Pan using the spacebar is a welcome addition,” says McNabb.
Outline View–The Document Outline view in Visual Studio 2012 provides PayGlobal developers with a tree-style outline which enables them to easily navigate, understand, and edit workflows.
Auto-surround with Sequence–To add an activity to a workflow in Workflow Designer 4.0, PayGlobal consultants had to delete the original activity. Then, they would insert a sequence, the original activity, and any additional activities. For PayGlobal
consultants this process created a lot of work as they customized the workflows. Workflow Foundation 4.5 automatically adds the sequence activity when it is required.
||We will use the Annotation capability in Visual Studio to document all of our new activities thoroughly so our consultants can easily explain workflows to clients and update them as needed.
| Mike Nooney
Auto-Connect and Auto-Insert–PayGlobal consultants no longer have to add connections between activity nodes manually. “Anything that makes using the arrow
connectors easier is a big plus,” says McNabb. When they drag an activity from the toolbox and drop it on an auto-connect point, the activity is added to the workflow along with the necessary connections.
In addition to the improvements to the Workflow Designer, PayGlobal found that Visual Studio has many other enhancements that help boost a developer’s productivity. “A lot of thought has gone into keyboard shortcuts. Our developers can navigate much more
easily using a keyboard instead of a mouse,” Mike Nooney, Solution Architect, PayGlobal.
PayGlobal also likes the quick solution load and compile times. “You never have to watch the spinning wheel − everything works quicker,” says Chris Opthoog, Senior Developer, PayGlobal.
PayGlobal has taken advantage of the improvements to Visual Studio 2012 and Windows Workflow Foundation 4.5 to speed its development processes and provide an easier way for its consultants to customize its Exolvo Self-Service product for clients. “Adopting
Windows Workflow Foundation 4.5 for our Exolvo product development has made it much easier to build and maintain the complex workflows required for HR processes,” says Nooney.
Customers will ultimately benefit from faster installations and an improved ability to customize their business processes.
Better Designer for Consultants
Most improvements to the Workflow Designer are also available in the rehosted version. Therefore, the PayGlobal consultants, who only use the rehosted designer will also benefit from the productivity enhancing features like the Auto-surround with Sequence
and Auto-connect capabilities. In addition, they can more easily comprehend the workflows using the Outline View and the extensive annotations that PayGlobal has added to document its processes. “Our consultants are domain experts, so they understand the processes
inherently, but they are not programmers. Now we are providing them with heavily annotated custom activities that they can use as building blocks to customize the workflows at the client site,” says Christoph Vollmer, Senior Developer, PayGlobal.
Improved Developer Productivity
The workflow team responsible for developing and upgrading the workflows has noticed a direct impact on its productivity. “The drag-and-drop functionality and the Pan Mode have made the large, complex workflows we create much easier to manage,” says Nooney.
“In addition, the improvements to the Visual Studio IDE such as the additional keyboard shortcuts are helping our development work progress more quickly.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.