Workflow is Penn State’s Web-based system for University academic, administrative, and financial management processes, especially those involving review approval needs. Additionally, Workflow enables the University to implement features including role-based authorizations, an easier–to-use interface, and standard central workflow approval policies.

Usage of the Penn State Workflow system is restricted to faculty and staff and is accessible through PAWS. If you have obtained access, you may login to Workflow.

Base System Features and Functionality

The Workflow System includes the capability and functionality as described below. As the system matures and new processes are added, additional functionality will become available.

  • Basic Form Processing: create, submit, approve, review, etc. A process is started by creating, entering data, and submitting a form.
  • Browser Bar Information: form-related information is displayed in the user’s Browser at the top of the screen.
  • User Worklist: upon logging into the Workflow System, users will be presented with a list of items that are awaiting their action, or “list of work.”
  • Refresh Worklist: users ‘waiting’ for a form to appear in their Worklist can manually refresh the system with the use of this button, located at the bottom right of the Worklist.
  • My Roles: users can choose between standard and proxy roles in their Worklist. This feature enables the user to control what they see in their Worklist for the role in which he or she is performing. In addition, the role the user is performing in is displayed on the form.
  • Review List: forms that do not require action, but only require review are shown in a separate list to be “reviewed”; the form is removed from the list after it is opened/closed.
  • Pending Submitted Forms: the Pending Submitted Forms worklist displays forms the user has submitted that are ‘In Process’; this allows a submitter to check on their forms easily.
  • Search Forms Basic: users can locate forms that they have submitted, acted upon, or are awaiting their action. Filtering can include Date Submitted, Form Status, Form Name and Category.
  • Search Forms Advanced: users can locate forms in IBIS or Workflow with advanced user defined criteria. Predefined system searches can be customized.
  • Search Forms Advanced, System Searches: system searches are available to search forms by person, budget, or status, along with being able to search for forms that were copied or forwarded.
  • Search Forms Advanced, My Searches: users can customize system searches to meet their specific needs and then save them in My Searches for future use.
  • Find a Form: a user can locate a form quickly by entering the number in the Find a Form box.
  • Add Comments: users may wish to add comments about their use of the form, share information with others in the approval process, etc. Comments are added, displayed, and reviewed via the Comments Tab located on each form.
  • Comments Tab: a date and time stamp are included with comments as they are entered into the Comments tab.
  • Form History: provides users with a view of actions taken by previous approvers and reviewers; it also identifies the next role and person to take action on the form.
  • Form Summary: is the location where all actions, activities, and comments that have been applied to the form are located and displayed. From the Summary Tab, users will see form data, comments, and history in a single view. Use the ‘Print Summary’ button at the bottom of the Form Tab to print the Summary Tab.
  • Role-based Approval: automated Workflow processes are routed to approvers and reviewers based on roles that are required to move the process along to completion. Faculty and staff are assigned roles that pertain to “the role that they serve” within a process. This differs from routing processes to persons based on their userid.
  • Automatic E-mail Notification: based on the requirements of the process, users will be notified by e-mail when a form is awaiting their action, when a process has been completed or rejected, etc.
  • Online Problem Reporting: users have a variety of methods to report problems and offer suggestions, support information is listed below.
  • Online User Guide and Web-based Tutorials: the Workflow System and each Workflow Form have a User Guide that is accessible from (1) the left hand navigation menu, and (2) upper right hand corner of the form.
  • WebAccess Enabled: Penn State faculty and staff use their Penn State Access Account ID and Password to login and use the Workflow System.
  • Integrated with PAWS (Penn State Web Suite): Workflow was the first application to reside within PAWS, which is the place that administrative users will go on the Web to get work done. PAWS will serve as a single launch point for a diverse collection of administrative functions and applications.
  • Attachments: supporting documentation may be uploaded and routed, along with the form on processes that require supporting documentation.
  • Action Button placement: users will find a consistent display of action buttons at the bottom of the form. When an action button is active, e.g. submit, exit, etc., the button will be positioned in the same location on each form.
  • Save Draft: this feature enables users to work on a form and save it without submitting it into the process flow. All work is saved when ‘Save Draft’ is used.
  • Save: after a form is submitted into a process flow, the Save is used to save changes so the form can be exited and returned to at a later time. The Save should never be used in conjunction with any button except the Exit.
  • Clear All: during the initial entry of a form, all form fields can be cleared by using the Clear All button. The user will be prompted to confirm that they wish to clear all fields from the form. A Clear button is also found on the Search Form page to clear previous search criteria.
  • Approve: a form appears on the Worklist of each approver in the process flow; the approve action moves the form to the next actor.
  • Retrieve from Update: Central Desks can retrieve forms from the Awaiting Update status with the use of this button which returns the form to their Worklist with a status of “In Process”.
  • Forward: an approver may request the “off-path” approval of another person by the use of the Forward, which sends the form to a user entered ID and then back to the original sender.
  • Copy: a copy of form is sent for informational purposes; it is not part of the approval process.
  • Processed Copies: users who are added to the list of Processed Form Recipients within a form will receive a copy of the form in their Review List when the form status is “Processed”.
  • Cancel Forward: this feature allows the user of the Forward to cancel the action if they so choose.
  • Reject: those who have a form in their Worklist may choose to end the processing of the form by rejecting the form; once rejected the form cannot be restarted – a new form will need to be created.
  • Return to Submitter: forms may be returned to the submitter for data correction or cancellation.
  • Resubmit: a form that has been returned to the submitter may be re-entered into the approval path by the submitter, who is the only allowable user of this button.
  • Cancel: only submitters may cancel a form; all others must reject the form.
  • Exit: all forms must be ‘Exited’ from to ensure closure; Exit functionality prompts the user to confirm that they wish to exit the form if a change had been made to the form and not previously saved.
  • Quick Exit: this feature allows users to quickly a form from any Tab without having to use the ‘Exit’ Form Action Button located at the bottom of the Form Tab. The ‘Exit Form’ button is found at the top right corner of all forms and is visible from any tab displayed.

ROLE Authorization

The Workflow Role Authorization online process replaces the current paper signature cards currently used to support financial approvals and is used in combination with the Web-Based Role Assignment Tool (WebRAT). Individuals are assigned into roles in WebRAT (available in PAWS) by those authorized to use this system.

For financial roles, this is the Financial Officer and authorized proxies. If the role is flagged in WebRAT as requiring approval, then a Workflow Role Authorization (ROLE) form will be automatically initiated and submitted into the Workflow system. The first approver in all Workflows is the person being authorized for the role–the role assignee (referred to as the role member in WebRAT). Upon acceptance of the role by approval of the form in the Workflow system, it then will flow to the appropriate approvers based on the role. When the ROLE form is completely processed, the Workflow system will notify WebRAT and the role will be finalized.

While the Workflow Role Authorization (ROLE) form will allow for electronic approval of roles, replacing the paper signature cards, it also provides better documentation of role authorizations than the current system. Other benefits include:

  • The ROLE form will be automatically created, being populated by pulling information directly from WebRAT.
  • The Workflow system will assure that a ROLE form has been submitted for all roles which require approval.
  • Upon submission, the ROLE form will automatically be routed to the person being authorized to perform the role (role assignee) so that the individual can accept the responsibility for performing the role as the first step in the approval process.
  • The Workflow system will send an e-mail notification to each reviewer as the ROLE form moves through the Workflow system alerting the reviewer of a ROLE form awaiting their review.
  • Upon review of the ROLE form, each reviewer will be able to electronically approve or reject the request.
  • Upon final approval of the ROLE form, the Workflow system will notify WebRAT that the role has been approved, at which time the role will be officially updated. If ROLE is rejected at any step, then WebRAT will be notified and the update will be canceled.

Note: Additional details about features and how to use the ROLE form can be found in the ROLE User Guide. A link is provided under Documentation & Resources below entitled User Guides.


Termination is a standard Office of Human Resources (OHR) process completed whenever anyone leaves an appointment at Penn State, and the Workflow Termination process is the first online Human Resources (HR) form to be integrated into the Penn State Workflow System.

The Workflow Termination process is being used University-wide to terminate Standing, Multi-Year, and Fixed-Term positions. Wage, Grad, Scholar, and Fellow appointment terminations may be added to Workflow in the future; in the interim, these will continue to use the current electronic procedure in the EASY 3270 environment.

The 3270 version consists of numerous pages of information that must be confirmed or entered by the user, involving codes and calculations that are not always handled in a standard manner across the University, and which follow complicated work-unit-based approval paths.

The Workflow Termination process will use the functionality of WebRAT to manage role assignments in a streamlined fashion.

Workflow Termination Form security and access requirements must be met in order to create and submit a TRMN form and to approve or view one within your area of responsibility. Access to the security function WTRM should be obtained through the Access and Security Representative (ASR) for a user’s department via an AIS Systems Access Request.

Features of the Termination form include the following:

  • The application will automatically populate by pulling information directly from the central database.
  • Required additional information will be requested in common English (i.e., a knowledge of a complex series of codes will not be needed).
  • Upon submission, the form will automatically follow a role-based approval path, which will be standardized across all University work units.
  • The Workflow system will send an e-mail notification to each reviewer as the Termination form moves along the approval path alerting approvers of the need to take action. Functionality is in development to allow frequent users to opt out of these e-mails as more applications in Workflow come online.
  • Approvers will be able to modify information on the termination form, to add comments, approve, reject, or return the form to the submitter if significant changes need to be made, or to simply approve it.
  • The Workflow system will enable those involved along the path from Submitter through all Approvers to track the form’s progress and to easily communicate with those at other nodes on the approval path.
  • The approval path will automatically accommodate the approvals of a secondary work unit where the employee’s salary budget is split.
  • When the form is fully approved, the Workflow Termination process will update the IBIS database with new information and will provide an appropriate audit trail of actions taken along the way.
  • Also, as part of the form’s final update, the terminating employee’s Penn State security clearance will be automatically suspended.
  • At the end of the process, e-mail notifications will be provided to the Employee Relations Division of the Office of Human Resources when the termination is Involuntary, to the Bursar’s Office if the terminating employee is currently utilizing the Educational Privilege, to the International Scholars Office of the Office of Human Resources, if the terminating employee is on any kind of visa, and to the AIS Security Office and appropriate Area Security Representatives to alert them that the terminating employees’ security clearances have been suspended.

Note: Additional details about features and how to use the ROLE form can be found in the ROLE User Guide. A link is provided under Documentation & Resources below entitled User Guides.

Documentation & Resources

User Guides

Help & Support

AIS Support
204 Wagner Building

Submit a Request for Service (RFS).