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Moving internal forms to Alesco Web Self Service

By / May 22, 2012 / / 1 Comment

It’s 2012 and organisations are still using paper based forms for business processes, and HR is one area that suffers most.

Alesco allows you to move the standard HR transactions online (leave booking, timesheets etc) to the Web Self Service (WSS).

But what about all those internal forms and workflows that your business uses?

If you’re running Alesco, you can either ask Talent2 to customise a core screen or create your own online forms outside of the WSS – both not very good options for maintainability, cost and future proofing.

There is a third option – creating new screens in Alesco WSS that leverage approvals functionality in Alesco and uses the WSS Approvals API.  We’ved used this API a number of times and it’s easily the best way to create new workflows.

You’ll need technical resource to build them, but the results mean users stick to WSS, the forms look familar and there is less overhead for upgrades or when changes are required as it utilises core functionality.

So let’s look at what’s suitable to move into WSS.

What business processes can I move to WSS?

Basically anything requiring a written request and approval that then has a resulting action based on the approval
The WSS Approvals API leverages standard approval process so you have a fair bit of control over approval workflow.

Transactions and their associated approvals are setup and configured as per other WSS transactions (leave bookings, timesheets etc).

Examples of what you can build:

  • Work Travel booking – allow staff to request approval for work related trips
  • Vehicle Expense Claim – allow staff to claim vehicle related work expenses
  • Timesheet entry screen – create your own screen calling the WSS Approvals API to suit your specific requirements (like seasonal workers)

I’m sure every business will have their own uses for this type of feature.

Tools and skills required

The WSS Approvals API is an extension to Alesco that allows you to create WSS screens and business logic leveraging standard Alesco approval process.

The screens will be developed in PL/SQL utilising mod_plsql so you’ll need someone technical to do the work.

The API allows sites to build and define their own transaction entry screens using provided skeletons and code templates in the toolkit.

WSS Approvals API is available on request from Talent2 as a patch.

The usual screens

Most business processes will require the following screens to be developed:

Summary/view screen
Showing history, current and pending requests. The summary screen will also have a button to create a new request.

A summary screen for a casual timesheet claim.

Entry screen

The actual entry screen to fill in a request – timesheet, travel request etc

This casual timesheet we built allows two different session times to be recorded.

Approval request screen

What information does the approver need to action the request?

 Drilling down on the approval request will show the actual timesheet details


Build, Test and Pilot

Create a wireframe of what the screens will look like using a tool like Balsamiq.

Show a select group of the users to make sure it’s simple, easy to use and has the required info they need. Remember it’s cheaper and easier to design on paper then in code.

Determine the business logic and validation required for the screens. The more complex you make the screens, the more time and effort it is required to build them.

The WSS Approvals API comes with templates for entry screens, database procedures and object templates to code the business logic. Make sure you’re familiar with mod_plsql in the Alesco WSS architecture. Approval types and rules will need to configured for the new transaction.

Go forth and conquer!

While it may seem like the same effort as customising or using in-house solutions, building integrated and upgrade friendly additional entry forms using the WSS and the API is the smartest way to bring more of your business processes into the online world.

If you’re still got questions or want to know how you could use this then drop me a line.