Why we don’t use SDL Tridion Workflow

The SDL Tridion MVPs were chatting on Skype last week, and the subject of workflow came up. One MVP told us he was working on a particularly interesting workflow challenge, and another shared the fantastic one-liner “Rule #1 for SDL Tridion Workflow: Don’t do it”.

Now based on my last post “Welcome back SDL Tridion Workflow” I thought it would be interesting to take a look at why so few clients implement SDL Tridion’s workflow solution for managing their content. After all, I bet 9 out of 10 clients list workflow as a feature in RFIs when making their WCM selection shortlists.

  1. I believe workflow is one of the least explored areas of the SDL Tridion WCM offering. As such, the knowledge among partners and consultants in the field is very limited.  No consultant will talk-up a product feature that they don’t fully comprehend, so most workflow implementations get pushed back to second or third phases of their implementation. Often resulting in workflow being pushed back indefinitely.
  2. Very few clients really understand the business processes behind the creation and revision process of their content. Again, leading to workflow implementations getting placed on the back burner.
  3. Those clients who really do understand their content creation and revision process often fail to differentiate between tasks and interactions that are informal processes that occur between colleagues compared to tasks that need to be formally managed with a rigid business workflow. This often results in overly complicated Workflow Process Definitions that end up stalling the content creation and revision process when fellow editors are unavailable to work on items assigned to them.
  4. Content editors often work on batches of items that need to be processed and released in packages. Implementing such a solution is often very timely and expensive.
  5. There is no out-of-the-box solution for notifying editors when items are assigned to them. As such it is common for items to sit in workflow until the assigned individual actually logs into the SDL Tridion GUI.

I genuinely believe that each of these 5 issues can be easily addressed, and make the SDL Tridion workflow offering a standard in all implementations.

  1. Lack of understanding of a solution can easily be addressed by partners and consultants simply researching the product. The current offering is really capable of achieving many client requirements. Those of you, who have actually implemented workflow, please share your solutions so that we can all learn from them. Understanding of the product will lead to feedback and evolution of the current offering.
  2. Helping clients understand their business processes can often be facilitated through a series of interviews, and simply observing the client’s interactions with their editorial counterparts. Even if workflow becomes a phase two feature (which I actually recommend), have a business analyst watch the authors and editors working before attempting to define the processes for the CMS.
  3. This one is somewhat paired with #1. Once more consultants understand what SDL Tridion Workflow can really bring to the table; it is much easier to help clients break down their 20 step business flows to a few simple steps inside the content manager.
  4. This one was pretty hard to do with all releases up to SDL Tridion 2011 SP1, but I have high hopes from the new “Bundles” based solution in the coming release.
  5. Notification I will address in my next post, but if we are lucky, we may see that appear in a future release too.

So that is my two cents, what excuses do you have for not implementing workflow in your SDL Tridion implementations and what features would you like to see in the next release?

This entry was posted in Tridion 2011, Workflow and tagged , , , , , by Chris Summers. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Summers

Chris has spent his career creating and developing technology for website operation and management. With a background in engineering and design, for the past 12 years, Chris has focused on implementing SDL Tridion products, working with companies and their technical staff to ensure an in-depth understanding of the software and complete successful, on-going implementations. Chris has worked with more than 60 of the largest and most expansive SDL Tridion implementations in the world, from launching custom integrations, offering technical training and mentoring consultants through to certification. When he’s not talking or thinking about websites, Chris is an avid chef, an amateur carpenter and a flying trapeze enthusiast. A fan of travel and adventure, he’s a citizen of the world who currently makes his home in Boston, USA.

4 thoughts on “Why we don’t use SDL Tridion Workflow

  1. My response: http://www.createandbreak.net/2012/03/aint-got-no-sdl-tridion-workflow-blues.html.

    Some points as I take the liberty to quote myself:

    We don’t read every tweet, marketing message, or even important notice from the bank. Even if Tridion made a SDL buddy jump out of your monitor, dance on your desk, and sing “hey you have content to review” you’d (eventually) go “yeah yeah” and look for the remind me in 15 minutes button or stick it in your desk drawer.

    I think there’s hope in treating the workflow interface as an application itself. Think about your favorite diff software (actually maybe not for busy or non-technical reviewers) or maybe the new SDL Tridion UI. Or flip the equation: only tell me if _____ happens or doesn’t happen. Context matters, clear call to action, and maybe a personal message or approach to make it feel like your author sent you a personal email.


  2. I wish i’d get a workflow-related assignment on upcoming Tridion projects to learn the matters.

    In the past i had the real problem to solve with human workflows which eventually led to implementing a workflow engine for one particular cms: http://code.google.com/p/n2contrib/. Man, was it fun! one of these bright moments of invention (i miss so much at sdl).

  3. Pingback: Workflow Dreamin’ - Curlette, SDL Tridion Consulting and Solutions

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