Workflow applications in Google Wave

One interesting aspect of Google Wave is the way that users can make semi structured workflows. In the workflows everyone can interact with each other in a simple flow manner. The workflow can be created just by adding other people to the conversation, and ask them questions or guide the process. This type of workflow can

But for some workflow instances you want to have the user to follow certain guidelines. You want another person for approve or sign the document, so what there is an agreement for the document. Something like this can also be performed by using voting Gadget. With the help of robots is it possible to make the workflow more structured. I have created a sample workflow application. The application emulates a bank loan submission form.

The process is as following:

  • The customer creates a Wave and writes a reason for getting the loan.
  • Then he adds the Bank robot. He thereby gets a form to fill in some fields, in a structured manner.
  • He submits the form. The robot sends the form to a bank employee. In this case the users “test” user for approval. The customer can’t approve the form, because of access limitations.
  • When the bank employee approves the application, the form data can be sent to the backend system.

This workflow is showed in the following video.

This is a proff of concept solution and demonstrates that it is possible to build workflows in Wave.

Using wave for frontend for a workflow engine, will allow the users to interact more with each other. It will give the participants a much better idea of the whole conversation and change the content in the mean time. I believe that this semi structured way for handling workflows is the easiest way to handle many of the tasks in today’s organizations. You don’t have to follow the rules completely, but can work the most natural way.

One problem with Wave workflows is that you don’t know which workflows you need to take action on. You just have a list of all the Waves, which has changed since you where on the page last time. This could maybe be solved using tags, which each user could search for.

For some workflows you need very strict or concrete results, like invoice approval. When you need to approve an invoice you need to assign the right cost elements to the different lines, get approval from manager and pay the vendor. This might be an area where the information given is too much structured data, so it is better to handle this in the ERP system.

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