Questions from the crowd – Can I set a workflow in Enterprise Architect?

Questions From The Crowd

Can I set a workflow in Enterprise Architect?

Doing what we do here at Dunstan Thomas we often get asked questions by users of Enterprise Architect, both new and experienced alike.

There are some questions that pop up more often than others and one that has been asked frequently of late is; 

“Can I set a workflow for my modellers in Enterprise Architect?”

As with many Enterprise Architect related quandaries the answer is…

Currently in, Enterprise Architect (EA), it is not possible to create a workflow that your modellers have to follow and have EA enforce that flow…but all is not lost there is still something that you can do.

One thing that you can definitely do is create a model that defines the flow of activities that you expect your modellers to follow as they execute their day to day tasks.

This can then be set as the model default on your repository which means that every time a modeller opens the repository, the first thing that EA will do is open & present your guidance model to them. This can act as a very handy reminder that there are processes in place that need to be followed when modelling. 

What kind of diagram do I use for this?

For me, there are only really two choices for this kind of diagram and that is either a BPMN 2.0 Process Diagram or a UML Activity Diagram.

Naturally, with BPMN being my weapon of choice I have opted to use that for this example: 

Creating a workflow using BPMN

Building this kind of diagram is very simple and the example here is actually a step by step on how to do that. It uses the standard BPMN 2.0 elements available to the Process Diagram as well as a mix of EA’s common elements such as Note and Checklist.

The next step is setting the diagram that you intend to act as process guidance as the model default and EA makes this very simple to do:

What are the limitations?

As this is very much a workaround situation, there are some limitations that you should be aware of:

  1. There can be only one! A repository can only have a single default model so there are a couple of things you can keep in mind when creating such a model:
    1. You could keep the process guidance to tasks that are universal to all modellers so that the model is relevant to everyone, OR…
    2. You create a process guidance model that is relevant to all teams by including various layers of abstraction that are relevant to roles e.g. BA’s, Devs etc.
  2. You can’t MAKE them do it! Because EA cannot enforce a workflow, all we can do is use this model default option to remind modellers that there is a process that they should be following. This means that your modellers will also require training on the standards that are expected of them.
  3. Lock it down! Remember that you won’t want just anyone to be able to make changes to your process guidance. To do this on a centralised repository, make sure that you have your Admin User lock the diagram to themselves…otherwise your guidance can be changed by anyone at any time.

We hope that you find this simple workaround useful. If you would like to know more about the EA related consulting services available from Dunstan Thomas, visit our EA Services page.

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