Hello, My name is Jake Dennison and I am a senior solutions engineer here at Nintex.
One of the most regular workflow designs I see with all lines of business is the use of multiple approvals are repeating the same actions but with only minor differences each time.
Currently it seems the preferred method to solve such workflows will be to use State machines to build branches for each step, Although this works and is fairly straight forward to pull off, I believe it has some minor drawbacks in some situations and in some extreme cases in the cloud, may cause bad workflow performance and throttling.
The kind of state machine I am talking about may look a little like the below but can be much bigger.
I regularly see state machines where at first they were made to only suit 3-4 approvals which is perfectly fine and exactly how you should use the state machine, however over time processes grow, more and more is added in and eventually you may find instead of having 4 branches, you now have 2 state machines each with 27 branches yes this is a real world example. Although the said workflow worked, It was slow to start and would regularly fail and error, due to its size and complexity it became difficult to maintain and hard to troubleshoot whenever there was an issue.
As a solution to this I came up with an externally managed state machine that uses data from the SharePoint to complete its logic, It works a little something like this, This is an early and basic example of what can be achieved, with real-world testing and improvements I am sure it can be more.
With some simple changes you can add some more complex actions or abilities such as red-lining and workflow re-start ability, Perhaps I will show those in a future post or if you're interested please feel free to reach out to me.
As a result now we have a workflow that completes all of the approvals we had before in exactly the same way however we have the following benefits.
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