rodogu09400x400.pngThis is a guest post by Roberto Dominguez from Comala Technology, creators of a number of Atlassian plugins including Ad hoc Workflows, the Checklists plugin, the RADIUS Authenticator for Jira and Confluence, and the TagLinks plugin.

Since 2007, Comalatech has helped enterprise clients adopt and adapt Confluence for atypical applications. Starting with customer needs, we’ve developed many mechanisms to configure and manage sharing content across time. In the course of working with customers, we have identified four patterns:

1. Content approving

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Confluence’s editing environment provides many benefits to content writers. But free-form sharing of pages becomes problematic when they want to exhibit only the finished versions yet need to share drafts with other editors. The means to approve content before it is generally viewable alleviates this.

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2. Content publishing

Publishing mechanisms go a step further than approvals, these create physically separate coherent sets of released documentation publishable to other spaces or to third party sites.

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3. Multi-step approval rules

Once content production settles on Confluence, managers responsible for the flow of work between staff naturally seek to extend Confluence’s role to multiple stages in the editorial process. As organizations stabilize they develop formal procedures to handle the bulk of normal cases. This is particularly true in highly structured companies such as Call Centers and in tightly regulated environments where compliance has financial, legal or risk implications. Capturing business rules into a preset flows results in reduced cognitive load on workers and tools for management that help them determine productivity bottlenecks and prove audit compliance.

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4. Adaptive work patterns

While organizations have a core set of procedures that they follow, they also have areas where work practices vary. Establishing a set of rules to follow could simply lull workers into a false sense of security: staff need to be trusted to be flex their means as appropriate. This is essential for complex adaptive work, where the environment keeps changing and where written rules would become quickly outdated.

We’ve built plugin functionality to power all of these four. Our Checklist Plugin and Content Publishing Plugin are open source and free to use. Our commercial offering – provides an extensive Workflow Engine, version 1 focused on approval. Version 2 added many more business rules to our Macro language, and logs to aid collaboration and audit.

Needing to keep content fresh by setting up rules is now typical. So, imminent is version 3: Ad hoc Workflows provides task management and simple-to-use workflow learning. We’ve broken new ground in that our plugin learns how your business rules are changing and can reapply what you did last time, repeating the sequence of user interactions.

To find out how the Workflows Plugin for Confluence can ease publishing, team sharing and, now, organizational adaptiveness, check out Ad hoc Workflows.

Comalatech is an Atlassian Partner and Silver Sponsor of Atlassian Summit 2010. Come visit our stand in June!

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