Using Routing Slips with Outlook
”…Outlook does not provide any direct way of performing workflow or routing tasks. To accomplish this, you need to either use a third-party solution, create your own custom solution, or use a different product or approach that is specifically designed to create workflow solutions…Time and cost: Generally, server-side routing solutions involve greater time and cost to implement.” according to the referenced publication.
Our “third-party” solution with Office Routing Plus Standard Edition is a client based offering that extends the capabilities of email with most any client and main stream email server system. Our offering removes the step of creating an email message and attaching items to send. It also enhances email functionality so messages can be sent in true sequential flow where the process is defined and controlled by the initiator. We also included a light-parallel routing feature which through a send at once option that creates an enhanced ability to track and follow up on responses and rapidly collect group approval.
What our customers like the most about routing processes created by ORP is the formalization. Our workflow tracks each routing step and maintains that routed pattern with recorded approval events. We time stamp and mark the username associated with each approval of the document. In the process design of ORP we decided that Microsoft Outlook or any other email client was not required to create an effective workflow process. If you are a Microsoft Outlook fan we do have options that tightly integrate with the product environment so you can use it to help you manage your workflows. If you are not a Microsoft Outlook fan and have avoided or migrated away from the Microsoft Exchange option we have also included features that run off of non-Microsoft based email technology. Since most businesses still choose to use Microsoft Office for document management with the tools of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel we’ve decided to keep our core offering focused to enhancing productivity within these environments.
We created Office Routing Plus because we believe our solution design and its forth coming product variations meet the core workflow objectives of most organizations throughout the world.
Reference: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/252976 reviewed on 1/20/2012. According to reference the article in review was previously published under Q252976. The article in review keywords: kbinfo KB252976
Need to change the list of recipients midstream in the life of a sequential workflow process? No problem if you are using the sequential workflow system known as Office Routing Plus.
To accomplish this in Office Routing Plus, simply select “Add Recipient” or “Delete Recipient” at any stage of the routing process. The initiator might setup one list of routing recipients but any recipient downstream from the document initiator who needs to insert (or delete) a recipient can do so. The only rule Office Routing Plus enforces is that recipients downstream from the initiator cannot delete a recipient that has already been routed to (unless they are the person who has just routed to the person they wish to delete–in this case this falls into the out of office scenario).
Probitas is happy to announce our first customer in the Dominican Republic who joined the ORP solutions offering earlier last week. Hola, to our new friends in DR!
Many users of Microsoft Outlook have experienced warnings about “another program trying to send emails on your behalf…” or something similar. In Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier, the send to next recipient menu item (i.e. the feature that Microsoft removed that allowed users to route documents sequentially via a routing slip) would cause these messages on many machines. This could only be turned off by editing the registry (specifically, by changing the CheckAdminSettings value).
Office Routing Plus not only restores the routing slip features that were in Word and Excel 2003, but it adds many other features and enhancements, including a fix to these annoying security issues. As of February 2010, these security alerts will no longer show in ORP.
You programmers who follow our blog are dying to know how we achieved this. The answer is Outlook Redemption . This is a great program, which we highly recommend. Redemption safely communicates with Outlook with no security warnings. It also allows .net programmers to hook into Outlook at deeper levels than what is available in the Microsoft Outlook API.
Below are the variations of this Microsoft Outlook message.
A program is trying to access e-mail address information stored in Outlook. If this is unexpected, click Deny and verify your antivirus software is up-to-date.
A program is trying to send an e-mail message on your behalf. If this is unexpected, click Deny and verify your antivirus software is up-to-date.
A program is trying to perform an action that may result in an e-mail message being sent on your behalf. If this is unexpected, click Deny and verify your antivirus software is up-to-date.
Q: Why do documents that have been routed by Office Routing Plus open from Microsoft Outlook as read only?
A: This is actually a feature of Microsoft Outlook and has nothing to do with ORP. In Microsoft Outlook 2007 and earlier any file attachments from Microsoft Outlook will open in read only mode if you open the attachment from the reading pane (aka the preview pane). The solution on these versions of Outlook is to double click to open the email message first and then open the file attachment. In Microsoft Outlook 2010 all attachments seem to open in read only mode by design. For the 2010 issue, see the article here for a description of the problem and some work-arounds.
A German version of Office Routing Plus has been developed. This uses German labels, messages, captions, on all messages, buttons, etc. Two of our clients have purchased the German version. A screenshot of the main form is below.
If your company would like to install a newer version of Office Routing Plus, the steps are outlined below. Please visit the changelog frequently for updates (this can also be accessed from the add-in main form, by clicking the “?” icon.
- Your company must be actively enrolled in the support/upgrade plan.
Read more about enrolling in the support plan here.
- Request the update by emailing email@example.com
- As of version 3.x, users may simply install the new upgrade without needing to uninstall the current version you are on. Running the setup.exe file will automatically uninstall the old version. Also, pushing out the software silently is now much easier with the new Advanced Installer.
- For detailed instructions for silent installations and other installer information, see here (the steps for an upgrade are the same as a new installation).
Integrity Solutions has been working on enhanced licenses for the Office Routing Plus© product. The enhanced product will allow “power users” who currently rely heavily on Office Routing Plus to have real time tracking of documents and the routing status of each document that the user is associated with in their organization. In addition to real time tracking of open routing documents, the enhanced product will also allow users to quickly search, filter, and sort routing history on any documents that have already completed the routing process.
While many users will find that the base product suits their needs for archival, via the emails that can be archived in your email program’s sent box or inbox, other users who have a number of documents enroute at any given time, will find the enhanced product’s search and sort features to be a vast improvement. Also, there is presently no way to have real time tracking of the status of the document, other than the emails that are sent to the initiator. If you are the initiator of multiple documents, it can become cumbersome to track the status of each one just by email notifications coming at you from multiple routing processes. Additionally, if you are not a routing initiator then you have no way to presently track the status of the document. The new enhanced product will allow the document initiator, and anyone upstream or downstream from the present state of the routing process to check on the status of documents that are enroute.
An organization that has purchased the baseline product for Office Routing Plus may choose to purchase an additional number of enhanced licenses for power users. For example, an organization may have purchased 200 licenses of the baseline product and only wish to pay for 20 enhanced licenses for the people who need the enhanced functionality. If your organization already uses just the baseline product, then all users would need to upgrade to a new version of the baseline product, which can write data to a simple MYSQL© database that will be installed in your environment. Then the enhanced licenses will be installed separately for just the users who are using the enhanced product.
The enhanced product will likely be a new feature that shows up inside of Excel or Word. We may decide that this should be a product that runs outside of Excel or Word but our impression is that most users who use Office Routing Plus will want to stay inside of Word or Excel to see the real time status of documents that are enroute, or to lookup routing history (or the actual final archived document) on completed routing processes. Let us know via email if you have feedback on this matter, or if you would like to provide any feedback at all about these exciting new features while they are being developed (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Our target date is February 2011. The enhanced licenses will be available in beta mode for existing Office Routing Plus users and then the licenses will be on sale.
Many organizations may wish to program Office Routing Plus with Visual Basic for Applications(VBA). Office Routing Plus allows for this, if you have purchased the Office Routing Plus Programming API™. Email email@example.com for pricing and further details.
Below are a few scenarios that show the potential power of the Office Routing Plus Programming API.
1. You have a saved Microsoft Excel form that your organization uses for check requests, and you want users in your organization to be able to download this template from your intranet or a network location. You do not want the person making the check request to know which all the recipients of this document because you have a large organization with complex business rules. It would be nice to have managed code inside the document itself that could dynamically determine the routing recipients based on criteria in the document. (i.e. the department the initiator works in, the amount of the request, or the type of request.) You can design the Microsoft Excel form so that each of these pieces of information can be clearly determined (i.e. by making named references or ensuring that they are put in specific cell numbers).
A programmer may now write VBA code in the form itself that has logic for looking up the appropriate recipients to route to based on the user’s department and the amount/type of check request. This mapping logic could be stored in arrays or simple function in the Microsoft Excel document or it could even be tied into Active Directory or a company database. Once a programmer has determined the recipients, he could create a button that the user clicks, which could then easily add these recipients to the document with Office
Routing Plus’ programmable API. The code would simply pass in the current Microsoft Excel/Word document to Office Routing Plus API and then add the recipients. The document could also be routed with the API.
2. When a form is filled out on your company website, you may want to write special code to take the data from this html web form and automate creating a new Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word document (or even a PDF document) with the form’s content. Then you can add recipients to this document based on the content of the document and route it to the first person. This could be accomplished by a programmer who knows how to automate creating a Word/Excel document from managed code written in a language that can interact with COM objects (vb.net, c#, etc). Once program automates the creation of the document and adds the recipients with the Office Routing Plus Programming API, it could route the docu-ment to the first recipient with one additional line of code.
If your company is interested in purchasing the Office Routing Plus Programming API,
contact Integrity Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to route documents that are not Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word documents (i.e. add a routing slip to an Adobe© PDF file for sequential routing, or JPG, BMP, etc.), you may still do this with Office Routing Plus™. Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel have a feature that allows you to easily embed any type of document within the Word or Excel document. Once the document has been embedded into the Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel Document, use Office Routing Plus to route the document as you would any other document. Use the following instructions to embed an alternate file type into a Word or Excel document.
1. To embed an alternate file into a Microsoft Word or Excel document click on the “Insert” tab and select “object” from the “Object” dropdown box.
2. Select the “Create from File” tab.
3. Select the “Browse” button and select your file. Any type of document can be selected. (The most widely used files are a PDF, Bitmap, JPG, etc.) Click the “Display as icon” button and then click OK.
4. Your document should show as an icon as seen below.
5. Double clicking on the icon will open the document. The document will open in whatever
default program is associated with the file type. (In the case below, Adobe Acrobat © was
6. Now use Office Routing Plus to route this document as you would a Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel document.