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Create a workflow

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OpenCities Product Team

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This task should be undertaken by users with the following roles: OC Workflow Manager, OC Site Manager, or OC System Administrator.

Workflows are a system in which a content author's page goes through a supervisory review before it is published. This can be tailored so that only certain content types go through the workflow. You can choose who reviews pages and who gets to skip the process entirely.

At first glance, Workflow seems complex, but it can be mastered by following our step-by-step process. The video and article below will take you through the steps of creating a workflow, including:

Getting started

To create a new workflow:

  1. Go to More > Workflow
  2. Choose Create New Workflow

This will take you to the workflow creation Overview tab.

If you are updating an existing workflow, you will find it in the left-hand menu, under Content Approval stages if it is an approval workflow, or Content Deletion stages if it is a deletion workflow. 

For a complete content journey, we recommend setting up both an approval and a deletion workflow. This will allow you to review all content before it goes live, and will also ensure that no content can be accidentally deleted. If you want to take content offline, we recommend you archive the page or file as archived content stays in your site tree for auditing or reinstatement purposes. 

The Overview tab

In this tab, you’ll be prompted to enter some basic details about your workflow.

the overview tab on a workflow

Stage The workflow name.
Description A brief description of the workflow for other admin users. This will only appear in the Overview tab in the workflow's settings.
Number of days before escalation The number of days a workflow item can sit in the Approvals area un-actioned before a reminder notification is sent out.
Workflow for

The type of action the workflow applies to – either creating new content, updating existing content, or deleting content.

Choosing ‘Update/New’ will allow you to choose whether the workflow applies to creating new content, updating content, or both.  

When you have saved these details, the rest of the workflow creation tabs (Approval, Content Type, and Email) will become available.

The Approval tab

In the Approval tab, you configure who reviews content that goes through this Workflow. You can choose which roles can make approvals or rejections. You can also choose which roles can skip a Workflow.

Hence, you’ll have to assign your users the correct role based on this review process. See our articles on users and roles for more information. 

Here's what you'll find in this section:

Adding approvers or skipping approvals

Who gets to review content, skip the review process and submit content for review is dictated by user roles. For example, let's say that your web lead has the role OC Site Manager. This web lead is your content expert and, as such, you will nominate the OC Site Manager role as an approver who can review content and skip submitting their own content to the workflow. 

Use the Roles who can make approvals list to select roles that can make approvals. Once you have selected which roles will be involved in the review process, a list of users will appear under Internal approvers. You will need to select users from this list to mark as the default receivers of workflow notifications. These users will be your nominated content reviewers.

Use the Roles who can skip this stage list to choose roles that can skip this workflow, this will be any users in your organization whose content does not need to be reviewed. 

You can also add reviewers who do not have an account in OpenCities by listing them under External approvers.

the approval tab on a workflow

Internal approvers

Making selections from the ‘Roles who can make approvals’ list will populate your list of Internal approvers; these are all of the users who have this role. From this list, select specific users to make approvals for this workflow by marking them as Is default. Selected users will receive an email notification to action content when a page is submitted to the workflow.

We recommend selecting 2-3 users as your default reviewers. This ensures that there is cover if a reviewer is unavailable, and guarantees that the content review process always runs smoothly.

select users in the approvals tab

External approvers

External approvers, who don't have an account in OpenCities, are added through their email address in the 'External Approvers' field. Make sure to add each external approver with the ‘+’ button and choose whether they can approve and reject content, or just preview the page from the Action dropdown menu.

To save external approvers to your workflow, you need to set up email notifications for them beforehand. See the email tab to find out how. 

external approvers for a workflow

External approvers receive a notification with a token that briefly grants them access to OpenCities admin. They can only access the page which is in the workflow and once the page is out of the workflow, external approvers will no longer be able to access admin. 

There's no specific length of time the tokens are live for. Review link tokens expire when:
  • The version being reviewed is no longer in a workflow (e.g. it was already actioned)
  • The reviewer has made a comment on the page (i.e. when they leave a comment, the token is used)
  • The version being reviewed was deleted 

Disable approver selection on submission

disable approver

Check the Disable approver selection on submission box if you’d like to remove content authors’ ability to choose a particular reviewer when they submit content. If this box is checked, approvals will be assigned to default users from within the internal and external approvers list. 

If the box remains unchecked then content authors will be able to choose from a list of reviewers with a role that can make approvals when they submit content.

In the workflow illustrated below, the 'Disable approver selection on submission' box has not been checked. As the content author is submitting their page to the workflow, they now have the option of picking from the list of users who have the approval role indicated in the workflow. 

In this workflow, we have selected OC Site Manager as the 'Roles who can make approvals', so the content author has a choice of any user to submit the page to who has that role. Whoever the content author selects will receive an email notification that a new page has entered the workflow, and through the link will be able to comment on, approve or reject the page.

selecting approver on publish

Don’t forget to Save your changes.

The content type tab

If you want to apply the workflow to a specific content type, you can select it from the Relevant content types list. All pages of this content type will go through this workflow when it is created, updated or deleted (depending on what you have selected in the ‘Approval’ tab). You can also use this tab to filter approvals by page language if you have any language packs installed.

To save your workflow, you must select at least one content type or language. If you select a language but not a content type, then pages of all content types will go through the workflow.

the content type tab on a workflow

The Email tab

You will need to create all email templates for your workflow so that your approvers will receive email notifications when content enters a workflow. These are created through More > Email Templates before you can add them to your workflow. 

Once your email templates are created you can choose when they will be sent using the options in this tab.

the email tab on a workflow

To set up your workflow email responses:

  1. Select Add New Workflow Email.
  2. Use the settings that appear to choose when an email will be sent: is the page entering or leaving the workflow? Has it been approved/does it need approval or has it been rejected? Then choose the email that will be sent. (No emails in the drop-down list? You need to create them first.)
  3. Save your changes, and the email will appear in the list. Once you have set up all your email responses, your email tab should look something like this:

the email tab with different scenarios

Common workflow email settings

You will need to create 3 templates, one for each stage possible in the workflow. These are some common use case scenarios (your emails may be named differently):

When a page is ready to be approved, use these settings:

  • When a page is Entering the workflow
  • With status Approved/Needs approval 
  • Send email A page has entered the Events workflow
an approval email scenario

When a page has been rejected, use these settings:

  • When a page is Leaving the workflow
  • With status Rejected
  • Send email Reject Email
a rejection email scenario

When a page has been approved and gone live, use these settings:

  • When a page is Leaving the workflow
  • With status Approved/Needs approval
  • Send email Page approval email
an approval and publish email scenario

External approver emails

If you have external approvers, select your external approver notification email from the drop-down list. (Don't see it in the list? Make sure you've created an email template specifically for external approvers. See the External approvers section of Create email templates for workflows.)

external email template

Save your changes. Your workflow is now ready to test and use. 

Testing your workflow

There are several ways you can test your workflow, but here is one scenario for testing a one-stage workflow:

  1. A member of your staff, who has the role OC Power Publisher submits a page to your newly created workflow.
  2. Make sure that a different staff member, who you have nominated as the default approver, receives the email template that you have set to be sent as a page enters the workflow.
  3. The default approver rejects the page and makes comments on it.
  4. Make sure the Power Publisher receives the email template that you set to be sent as the page is rejected. Ensure that the comments the default approver made on the page are sent along with this rejection email.
  5. Power Publisher updates the page and resubmits it to the workflow.
  6. After receiving another email notifying that the page has entered the workflow, the default approver can approve the page.
  7. Make sure the Power Publisher then receives an email notifying them of the approval and that the page goes live.

Multi-stage workflows

Sometimes you will need your pages to have 2 points of review before they go live. You can create multi-stage workflows in the same way you create single-stage workflows.

When creating a workflow, you enable which content types or languages will be affected by that workflow. Pages of the same content type will go through all workflows that have that content type enabled, creating a multi-stage review process.

If you find your pages are going through unexpected review processes, you may need to delete some extraneous workflows or reassign content types. 

What else?

  1. External content review
  2. Create email templates for Workflows
  3. Action content in Workflows
  4. Workflows in page permissions
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