Understanding IMSMA Workflows and Business Rules
Rather than establishing one workflow that all programmes must use, IMSMANG allows information managers to establish their own programme-appropriate workflows and business rules to better support their specific needs. To document their programme-specific workflows, information managers describe the processes undertaken on each object in IMSMANG and the outputs or products from the processes. Typically, these workflows relate to the various categories of land and activities, but they can also be applied to other IMSMANG items as appropriate.
During this step, information managers map the process that each land goes through as it is cleared or its impact is otherwise reduced. Using a combination of the relevant land types, status values and relationships, information managers design an information workflow that will be implemented as standard operating procedures (SOPs) for data entry and analysis. Some programmes may have only one process for all categories of land while other programmes may have three or more processes.
Mapping the Workflow
The first element of mapping the activity workflow is to build a map of the relationship between the objects and processes involved in the activity. Starting with the first representation of the land, the workflow map should describe the processes done to the land and the output of the process. The workflow map should trace the entire process from land identification through clearance and release of the land according to the operational process in use in the programme. In the example below, a confirmed hazardous area (CHA) is linked to a technical survey that was conducted on the land. The survey resulted in a minefield on which a clearance was done, and the clearance resulted in a cleared land. Finally, a completion survey was logged to close the land.
Mapping the Workflow
This workflow map identifies the activity that is used within the programme and can be mapped in IMSMANG to track the clearance of land. Because IMSMANG supports customisable workflows, it can be used to track different workflows for different objects. For example, a programme may have a separate abbreviated workflow for spot UXO tasks that involve only the identification of the UXO hazard (object) and a clearance of the land (process) without additional surveys or steps. This process should also be mapped for implementing in IMSMANG.
Business Rules Updating Structure
Along with a workflow map that describes the relationship between the various types of objects and processes in a workflow, the status changes or outputs from the process are critical in adequately mapping the land clearance process. IMSMANG uses the status value of items to track where the object or process is in its workflow. Objects and processes in IMSMANG can have different status values. For example, land can be defined as "Open", "Worked On," or "Closed," while activities that are more process-oriented can be "Planned," "Ongoing," "Completed," "Suspended," or "Aborted." Defining a set of status values for each item provides the capability to:
- manage workflows according to status
- search and report on items based on a particular status
- display items on the map with different symbols based on their status
Some IMSMANG items may have many status values. For example, process-oriented items such as activities and quality management likely have many status values, but land and other object- or output-oriented items typically have only the three status values listed above. Some items like victims and accidents may not need status values depending on how information is used. Defining the possible status values for each object in the workflow as outputs of the processes conducted on them provides a set of business rules for information management that govern how information should be entered and analysed.
Example Workflows with Status Changes
The following figures show how each programme can tailor the system to support a specific land clearance/activity workflow process for each type of land, from a traditional process for minefield clearance with multiple steps including a technical survey, clearance and completion survey to a simplified process for UXO clearance that includes only a clearance. Each example involves a single land on which one or more activities are conducted. At each step, information about the land's status and type is updated as a result of the activity.
In the figure below, a CHA is created and its status is set to "Open". A technical survey process is then conducted on the land, which results in changing the subcategory of the land from "CHA" to "Minefield" and defining the land's perimeter. Next, a clearance process is conducted on the minefield that results in updating the status of the land to "Worked On." Finally, a completion survey is submitted that updates the status of the land to "Closed."
Example of a Traditional Workflow
Simpler processes can be defined for other types of land. For example, a spot UXO task would likely not go through this complete workflow and instead start with a subcategory of "UXO" and a status of "Open." A clearance could then be conducted and the UXO spot status updated to "Closed," without requiring a completion survey.
Example of a Spot UXO Workflow
By documenting the entire process conducted on each type of land, including the changes in status and type that result from activities, information managers create a complete map of the land/activity workflow that informs how linking and reconciliation decisions should be made and provide a guide to data entry personnel.
Progress Reporting Structure
Once the land/activity relationships and workflow are defined and documented for each type of land, the next step is to define how progress data for the land clearance processes is collected. Incremental progress data is collected for a reporting period, usually, the number of mines/UXO cleared, area cleared and hours worked for tasks that take long time to complete. In IMSMANG, each progress report is stored as a new activity. This may be done in different ways:
- Progress Reports linked to the Land
- Progress Reports linked to the Clearance Report and the Clearance linked to the Land
- Progress Reports combined together and linked to either Land or Clearance
Information managers should assess which approach better meets the needs of their programs when selecting an approach to tracking progress.
The Progress Reports are linked to the Land. As a result, individual progress reports can be queried to determine how much progress was made during a given reporting period. In addition, aggregate progress information can be queried easily for each Land (for example, the total mines that have been reported cleared). This method requires to create a Land record and that the Land report is entered and approved in IMSMANG before the first Progress report is entered into the database. This method has the Land in focus and is getting more common. This is the method that we recommend to first evaluate.
The Progress Reports are linked to the Clearance report. As a result, individual progress reports can be queried to determine how much progress was made during a given reporting period. In addition, aggregate progress information can be queried for each clearance (for example, the total mines that have been reported cleared for a given clearance operation). This method requires to create a Clearance report and that the Clearance report is entered and approved in IMSMANG before the first Progress report is entered into the database. This method has the Clearance in focus and is not so common anymore.
Progress Reports combined together
An third approach to store progress information is to reconcile the Progress Reports as updates to the clearance using the combine option during reconciliation. Using this method, the different progress reports are not visible as individual Progress reports in IMSMANG; their information is combined with, and added to, the clearance information collected to that point. It will, however, become more complicated to determine progress during individual reporting periods, for operators to see their Progress Reports and to ensure high data quality. We do not recommend this method.
In the example below, progress reports were collected for three separate reporting periods during a clearance operation. Collecting and linking information in this way makes it easy to determine that in Period 2 (PR-2), 4,500 sqm were cleared and 25 AP mines were found and that, overall, 15,000 sqm were cleared and 61 AP mines were found. A defined, standardized approach to collecting and storing progress information simplifies querying and reporting of statistical information and is a critical element to supporting operational mine action information management needs.
Progress Report Workflow