Article #399 Creating Actionable Workflow Email Notifications for Business Processes Required to Manage the Delivery of Capital Construction Projects

When it comes to managing capital construction projects, there could be more than 200 business processes that need to be performed by the different entities involved in the project delivery for which each will have a role in executing those processes. Each business process will have an input template to ensure capturing its trustworthy data by the assigned individual as well as a workflow to ensure enforcing transparency and accountability when it comes to submitting, reviewing, approving, or rejecting those processes. Of course, those templates need to be attached with their supportive documents as well as be linked to their relevant records and email messages.

A Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb is required to digital transform the execution of the many business processes associated with the delivery of capital construction projects. The PMWeb workflow assigned to a business process maps how the review and approval/rejection tasks are assigned to the individuals who are accountable for performing those tasks along with the duration assigned to each task with the allowed actions to be taken by those individuals. The workflow could also include the conditions and rules required for enforcing the approval authority levels detailed in the project management plan for business processes.

The individuals who are set accountable for performing those processes could be representing different entities as well as they could be located in different parts of the world. Therefore, all PMIS solutions including PMWeb must allow the option to send email messages to notify those individuals of the workflow tasks assigned for their action on business processes. With the hundreds of email messages daily received by those individuals, there is a high chance that they might miss some PMWeb business process workflow email notifications. The likelihood of this occurring is high if email notifications for all business processes have an identical layout. Therefore, customizing those notifications is very important to bring the needed visibility when they are received.

The workflow email notification shown below on the left is an example of how PMWeb default notification will be received. Although it provides all important information associated with the notification it fails to bring the desired attention it deserves from the recipient. On the other hand, the workflow email notification shown on the right is an example of a customized notification. To start with, the customized notification states the process name being “RFI” in large fonts on a blue-colored background to highlight what is it for. The background color could be selected to be in different colors for site communications, commercial, HSE, quality, procurement, risk, and other categories of business processes. The needed PMWeb default data fields for the workflow email notification are displayed on the Grey and Yellow bands. In addition, the content of the business process is displayed on the email notification to enable the reader to have an immediate understanding of what the notification is all about. The bottom of the email details the comments made by the individual who has executed the previous task. The Green button is designed to drive the notification recipient on what needs to be done to proceed with the workflow process. Those customizations and many others will for sure bring the attention needed to those workflow email notifications.

PMWeb provides the option to customize workflow email notifications for each business process type and for each action type that could be taken in a business process workflow. Those could be for example submit, review, proceed, return, resubmit, withdraw, reject, resubmit, branch (for selections or approval authority levels), user delegate, team input request, review complete and final approval. The rich text workflow email notification template can be created using PMWeb form design tools, copied and paste from MS Excel or MS Word templates, or imported as an HTML design template. PMWeb provides a list of all data fields that can be inserted into the notification template.

The workflow actions will be the actions that will be made available for each task defined in the workflow and are available for the individuals involved in the business process. PMWeb also provides the option to display those actions with values that could differ from the default values already defined in PMWeb.

When an individual is required to take any action on a business process, assuming for example the Request for Information (RFI) process, the workflow email notification template will be automatically selected depending on the action selected by the individual. The individual can add comments to the workflow task which will appear in the workflow email notification if the comment field was selected to be displayed. PMWeb also provides the option to carbon copy (CC) other individuals who could be PMWeb or non-PMWeb users.

The workflow email notification along with all attachments if they were defined to be added to the workflow task, will be received by the intended recipients. Those recipients can click on the document hyperlink to access the original record in PMWeb, open the attachments or even forward the email itself to others if needed. That customized workflow email notification provides all needed information for clear, easy understand, and actionable notifications that can be searched for their content, attach, or shared with other individuals.

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About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services, and project management information systems to over 200 projects with a total value over the US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality, and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 40 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 300 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.


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