Announcing the Streamflow workflow product

Swedish readers of might have noticed today that there was an article about how the Swedish municipalities are working on a new workflow product, as the current vendors simply doesn’t cut it. Jayway was mentioned as a partner in this development, and since this involves me I thought I would take this opportunity to announce what we are up to.

Jayway will in cooperation with Sambruk develop a new platform for workflow management called Streamflow. During my years of working with the Swedish government with my earlier product company Senselogic I have come to understand that workflow really is the core of what the Swedish government departments are doing, and that their current attempts at using workflow software to automate some of the work is failing miserably. I mean totally and utterly miserably.

Because of this, and many other reasons, we now want to attempt to build a workflow product that is more adapted to their needs, and can help them adopt an agile mindset in how they approach their work. This involves being able to constantly monitor their processes, how they are working (or not), and get things done more efficiently. But most importantly, the main focus is on getting each individual in the organization as efficient as possible, and this is helped by having tools to manage the overall structure of how information and issues flow through the system.

The entire platform is going to be a commercial product, but it will be using the Apache 2.0 OpenSource license. This means that anyone will be able to download and use it for free, and we will offer support subscriptions for those who want that. We hope that lots of people will find it useful not only in their work environment, but also for private use. On the surface it is going to look like a Getting Things Done application, although underneath there will be tons of places for integration with existing systems. This we hope will be a good solution both for individuals and organizations.

In terms of technology it is going to be based on everything I’ve learned from my work on SiteVision, and the latest developments in terms of SOA principles. It will be built upon Qi4j for the domain logic, and use REST as one of the core integration points. While this system will be built in Java we hope that others will create extension and plugins in whatever language they want, with REST as the way to communicate with it.

The article mentioned above has a number of questions in the comments section, so I figured I would also try to answer some of them here.
Q: It would be good to be able to monitor the entire flow of issues in the system
A: One of the key requirements in building a new workflow system is that citizens need to be able to track the status of their own issues through the web. This will be built-in from the start.

Q: It should be possible for citizens to comment on how they feel the processes are working (or not-working) so as to be able to improve them-
A: Continuous improvement of the processes is going to be a big goal here. The mindset we want to adopt is very similar to Scrum, and process models should be iteratively improved as new understanding of how to achieve the goals is gained.

Q: It would be nice if the system was based on portlets for easy integration
A: The system itself will be a standalone server, but will have JSR168 portlets for integrating it with the current portal servers that the municipalities already have, such as SiteVision :-)

That’s it for now. There’s a whole bunch of more things to describe with regard to this project, but one step at a time. Right now I’m just really excited about the response I have received so far when talking to both developers and government officials about these ideas, and it is obviously something that many people care about it.

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