Setting estimated durations for steps in a workflow

You can set the estimated durations for each step in a workflow and use these values to track the progress of jobs through the workflow. Using the estimated durations, the system provides a predicted completion time. The system also provides a predicted path of the job.
Before you do this procedure:
  • Decide which steps need estimated durations. We recommend that you set estimated durations for all the steps in a workflow through the last step that you want to track. You can set an estimated duration of 1 second for a step like DetectInputDataStream, which takes almost no time to complete. You should always specify estimated durations for steps like RunExternalProgram and PrintJobs, which can take a long time to process. In general, steps that process PDF documents, like ReversePDFPageOrder and PreparePDFOutputForFinishing, can take a long time. You should also set estimated durations for manual steps.

    • If you are tracking to a schedule and a deadline, we recommend that you give the step that you select as the Deadline step an estimated duration. The estimated duration helps Ricoh ProcessDirector track the Predicted outcome for the jobs in the workflow.
  • Make sure you account for the total time required by a step. For example, you have a 100-page per minute printer. You can estimate the duration of the PrintJobs step for that printer in pages per minute. When you account for paper and toner changes, the actual print speed in your environment might be 50 pages per minute. Set the estimated duration to the actual print speed: 50 pages per minute.
  • To determine how long a step takes to process, you can look at the start and stop times for the step in the job log. Filter on state changes to see each job’s processing time.

    • If you have installed the Reports Feature, you can use the JobPerformance report. By default, the report is grouped by step name. For each step, you can see the number of jobs and the cumulative main processing time. To determine the estimated duration for a step, divide the cumulative main processing time by the number of jobs. If the processing time for a step in the report seems very low, jobs might be spending time in a state other than Processing. The JobPerformance report does not capture time spent in those states. Review the job logs from a representative sample of jobs to tune your estimated duration for the step. For example, some steps (such as ManualWithAutoStart) process jobs quickly, but hold jobs in a waiting state (such as Manual-Waiting) until an operator takes an action. The report does not include the amount of time that the job waits in the step.
  • The last time-sensitive step in your workflow should be the last step with an estimated duration. If the last time-sensitive step is PrintJobs, make that the last step with an estimated duration. Do not set an estimated duration for a step like RetainCompletedJobs.

  • You must use the legacy interface to specify estimated durations.
To set estimated durations for the steps in a workflow:
  1. Click the Workflow tab.
  2. In the Workflow Objects portlet, click the Workflows tab.
  3. Select the workflow that you want to set estimated durations for, and click Disable workflow (Disable workflow icon).
  4. Click Open workflow (Open workflow icon).
  5. Click Edit estimated durations (Edit estimated durations icon).
    You can set or change the estimated durations on the properties notebook for each step. Using the Edit estimated durations action is faster.
  6. Select the first step that you want to set an estimated duration for. Do these steps:
    1. For the Volume and VUnit properties, specify the number of jobs or pages that are used to calculate the estimated duration.
      If the estimated duration is for one job, type 1 and select Job(s). If the estimated duration is for 100 pages, type 100 and select Page(s).
    2. For the Time and TUnit properties, specify the estimated duration.
      If the estimated duration is five minutes, type 5 and select minutes. If the estimated duration is two hours, type 2 and select hours.
    3. Set the value for the Include property to Yes.
      If you do not want to include the estimated duration for the step in the calculation of the estimated duration for the job, set the property to No.
    4. Repeat for these steps for each step that you want to set an estimated duration for.
      If you have multiple copies of a long-running step in a workflow and you want their estimates to be the same, sort the table by the Step template column so that all those steps are together. Select the steps and use the Edit multiple box to set the properties for all the steps at once.
    5. When you finish, click OK.
  7. Save the workflow.
    Option Description
    Save workflow (Save workflow icon) Saves the workflow, but does not enable it. Use this option if you do not want to use the workflow immediately or if you want to continue editing it.
    Save and enable (Save and enable workflow icon) Saves the workflow and enables it. Use this option if you do not need to make any additional changes and want to use the workflow immediately or if you want to test the workflow.
After you have set estimated durations for steps, you can you can set up one or more email notifications that watch for the Tracking status or Predicted outcome properties for a job to Behind schedule or May miss and send an email to one or more users to alert them that a job is in danger of missing its schedule.
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