We digitized our internal vacation request process using Camunda as a workflow engine, AppSmith for our Web-GUI and Evidos for digital signing.
All of the employees always use up-to-date and efficient tools, techniques, and technologies. Therefore, we constantly apply, test, and evaluate them in our internal projects first.
We have been cloud-based since 2008 and paperless since 2019. The only remaining manual, "semi-digital" process that we had until early 2023 was the vacation request management process. Therefore, in late 2022, we started to work on an internal project for digital vacation. The idea of this project was to simplify, modernize and accelerate the vacation process for both applicants (employees) and decision-makers (team leaders and office managers).
Six transentis employees were involved in this project as business owners, a domain expert, a product manager, a business analyst and a software engineer in adjacent to their daily consulting jobs. From the initial idea to go live, our effort equaled around 60-person days. In this project, we tested and applied a variety of different modern tools. We always apply an agile kanban-based approach in our work, and the Digital Vacation Project was not an exception.
Key Business Requirements
Before starting prototyping and implementation of the project, we created several requirements for fulfillment:
make the process fully digitized
track all active and approved vacation requests
show both available and taken vacation days for every employee
allow independent authorization for 3 different roles
implement a digital signature procedure for all the roles
send notification emails to all the participants of the process
First, we created a board in Miro for understanding all the processes.
Then we modeled our vacation application process into a BMPN diagram and added DMN decision tables as needed, using the Camunda Platform. Camunda
is a Berlin-based company, that offers an open workflow and decision automation platform. With Camunda, business users collaborate with developers to model and automate end-to-end processes.
The model shown below provides a logical view of the steps of a vacation application. It aims to show the process participants the detailed tasks of the vacation process and is used as the starting point for IT implementation.
Later on, we modeled the technical model, which was used for the Camunda Workflow Engine to automate our process.
We used AppSmith for the frontend to create the input masks for different roles and have connected different workflows, for example, the process of application requests, approvals, or rejections. The app allowed us to build complex web applications without having to write any code thanks to its drag-and-drop features.
In the image below you can see an architecture diagram of our project:
To complete the vacation application system, we had to integrate several systems:
for the signing process.
for the deployment of the backend microservices.
for storing the static information and the vacation documents of the employees.
for sending vacation request notifications, approvals, and rejections automatically via email
for building a python server to connect Camunda, PostgreSQL, AppSmith, and Evidos through REST APIs.
After having implemented the project, we would like to share our opinion on some of the tools we have used.
We liked working with Camunda as it allows workflow automation, and has a user-friendly interface and scalability. The tool from Berlin can also be integrated with a variety of other tools and platforms, including databases, APIs, and more. Camunda is a cloud-based managed service so we did not have to worry about operating the system. Moreover, the tool has a very reasonable pricing model that scales with the usage.
Since Camunda is a platform for workflow, process management, and complex process automation, it was challenging for us to set up and configure all 3 processes. Since Camunda 8 is very new, it was not always easy for us to find answers to some of the questions.
We have been using AppSmith for a year for building some applications. However, while working on the Digital Vacation Project, we were able to evaluate the tool since we were building a sophisticated application.
Our experience with AppSmith was positive since the app allowed us to build a frontend easily and quickly without any special prior knowledge and experience. It offers many features that a modern application needs to have, for example, widgets for the pages or queries to communicate with the database.
We used Evidos for the digital signing process of the documents for the vacation requests, as it was very easy to integrate into our application. The tool offers a safe, cloud-based application and very good documentation of the APIs. Evidos was useful for us because it allowed us not to maintain and control the functionality of the signature certification. Also, it offers a postback functionality, which we used to get feedback from the process and continue with our model.
To succeed in today's dynamic business landscape, companies must be willing to continually challenge themselves to improve and adapt. Digital transformation is an ongoing process, and organizations must adopt a growth mindset to remain competitive. We believe companies must never stop seeking ways to improve and evolve.