Workflow phases and transitions

This topic describes how to set up your development workflow by defining phases and how to transition from phase to phase.


ALM Octane uses phases to represent the status of an entity.

For every entity, you can customize a workflow, indicating the phases through which the entity advances as it is being developed.

Workflow is supported for any entity which proceeds through development, such as requirements, defects, and tests.

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Sharing phases and workflows between spaces

Sharing phases and workflows depends on context as follows:

Isolated spaces

In isolated spaces, each workspace defines its own independent workflows. No elements of the workflow are inherited from the space.

Shared spaces

In shared spaces, the elements of the workflow are determined at the space level. These are propagated to the workspaces. Each workspace can define its own lower-level workflow elements within the inherited framework.

This table summarizes the actions admins can perform when customizing workflows in shared spaces and associated workspaces.

Note: By default, you can add phases at the workflow level, but transitions are automatic. This ensures that shared space workflows are not bypassed at the workspace level. The following section describes the default restrictive model.

In a more permissive model, you can customize transitions as well. For details, see Customize phases and transitions at the workspace level.

Shared space Associated workspaces

You can customize an entity's workflow in the shared space by creating, renaming, and deleting phases and transitions.

When customized in a shared space, a workflow and its phases are available for the entity in all associated workspaces.

Workflows created in a shared space act as a framework that can be expanded upon on the workspace level.

You can customize workflows for a specific workspace. Customization includes renaming phases and adding phases. Transitions are added automatically. Phases from a shared workflow are displayed with the icon. For examples, see Shared workflows.

While the workflow is shared, the changes made at the workspace level are available only to the one workspace where the changes are made. Only the admin for the workspace can access the changes made to the shared workflow.

For details, see Shared workflows and cross-workspace reporting (Enterprise Edition).

Shared workflows and cross-workspace reporting (Enterprise Edition)

Shared spaces enable you to create widgets that report on information across workspaces. The resulting information is called a cross-workspace graph. Any entity that meets the widget's filter criteria is included in the graph, regardless of workspace.

Cross-workspace graphs in the dashboard can display only information that is available to all the relevant workspaces. This means that any changes made in a workspace to a shared workflow are not visible in the cross-workspace graphs.

Even if a shared workflow has been customized for a workspace, any entities whose phases were defined in the customized parts of the shared workflow are included in the graph.

Limitation:  If the cross-workspace widget configuration includes phases as the x-axis value, ALM Octane ignores entities whose phases were customized in a workspace. They are not included in the graph.

For details on cross-workspace widgets using the dashboard, see Workspace.

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The workflow diagram

The workflow diagram contains the following entities:


The phase represents a status of an entity.

Phase Details

Inside each workflow there are Metaphases marked with a label over the relevant phases in the diagram: 

Metaphases are provided by default and cannot be modified.

A metaphase lets you categorize the phases logically.

Within the metaphases, you can change the order and flow of the phases or add additional phases.

For example, the metaphases and the phases for defects are:

  • The New metaphase: New, Deferred.
  • The In progress metaphase: Opened.
  • The In Testing metaphase: Fixed, Proposed closed.
  • ValueEdge: The In Delivery metaphase: no default phases.


    • When migrating from ValueEdge and ALM Octane Pro to the Enterprise edition, and there is a phase in the In Delivery metaphase, the consolidation process fails. To ensure that phases are mapped properly, create the corresponding phase in the master workflow before the consolidation process starts. This will help you merge phases or add new phases before/after an existing phase.
    • To enable feature flow time calculation, ensure the In Delivery metaphase includes phases. If no phase is included, or a feature has not reached this metaphase yet, the In Delivery metaphase is not considered for flow time calculation. As a result, the feature flow time equals its cycle time.
  • The Done metaphase: Duplicate, Closed, Rejected.

Different entities have different sets of phases. For example, backlog item phases include New, Deferred, Opened, Fixed, Proposed closed, Duplicate, Closed, and Rejected.

Indicated by a rectangle: 

If working in a workspace, an icon indicates that the phase is part of a shared workflow and defined in the shared space.

You can customize the phases for each entity. For details, see Lists.

Start phase

When you create a workflow, the first phase in the workflow is the Start phase.

Indicated by a green rectangle: 

A workflow has only one Start phase.

Master phase

If you select a phase in a shared workflow from within a workspace, the master phase field displays the original phase in the shared workflow on which changes were based. You can see the master phase field in the PROPERTIES pane on the right.

  • If you rename a shared workflow phase in a workspace, the master phase displays the original name of the phase in the shared space.

  • When adding phases in a workspace to a shared workflow, you add the phases relative to an original phase. The original phase is the master phase for any of these newly-added phases.

For examples, see Shared workflows.


Workflow phases are connected by transition arrows.

Type Details
Primary transition

A primary transition is the main workflow for the entity. Most entities will pass through the phases of the primary path as the entities are being developed.

Indicated by a solid arrow:

Each workflow has one primary transition.

Secondary, or alternate, transition

Transitions that are alternate workflow paths. These transitions are not essential to the primary logic of the workflow. Under certain circumstances, an entity will follow the alternate path.

Indicated by a dotted arrow: 

Example: Most New defects follow the primary path to the Opened phase. However, a New defect may be Deferred if there are not enough resources to handle it.

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Sample workflows

Here are some sample workflows that demonstrate the use of phases and transitions.

User stories

Gherkin tests


Shared workflows

Here we demonstrate how to work with shared workflows. The examples below are based on the following scenario: 

Our site has a shared space for a clothing division. This shared space has four workspaces associated with it: 

Set up workflows

This section describes how to set up workflows.

To set up workflows:

  1. In Settings > Spaces, select a shared space or workspace.

  2. Click Entities and select the entity for which you want to set up the workflow.

  3. Click Workflow. The existing workflow phases display graphically.

  4. Modify the workflow as needed. Select a phase, and then:

    Action Details
    Rename a phase

    Enter a name in the PROPERTIES pane.

    Assign a phase to a different metaphase

    On the shared space level or in a workspace under an isolated space:

    Enter a different metaphase in the PROPERTIES pane. In the display, the phase moves to the newly-assigned metaphase.

    Add a phase

    You can add phases on the following levels:

    • In a shared space master workspace, or in a workspace under an isolated space. Right-click the phase before which you want to add a new phase. Select Add Phase, and then Add a transition.

      ValueEdge: If you need to create a phase, but not from an existing phase, right-click in the empty area of the metaphase column. Click Add Phase, and then select the source and target phase. The source and target phases can belong to any metaphase.

    • In a workspace under a shared space. Right-click an existing phase, and select either Add Before or Add After. The transition is added automatically.

      Note: The option to add phases not from the existing phases is only available in the master workspace.

    Tip: If you add phases with similar meanings to defect and user story workflows, use the same name for the phase in both workflows. This is because, in the Backlog module, the Backlog Items tab displays defects and user stories together. The phase filter for this tab includes all workflow phases for defects and user stories. Phases with the same name are listed only once in the filter.

    Add a transition

    On the shared space level or in a workspace under an isolated space:

    Right-click the phase before which you want to add a new phase. Select Add Transition. Enter the name of the target phase to which the transition should point.

    Move a phase In a workspace under a shared space:

    You can move a phase that you created on the workspace level before or after any phases that belong to same master phase, including master phase itself.

    Right-click the phase you want to move, and then select either Move Before or Move After. In the Move this phase dialog box, select the phase before or after which to move.

    Indicate the transition is a primary transition

    On the shared space level or in a workspace under an isolated space:

    Click the Primary Transition check box in the PROPERTIES pane.

    Delete a phase or a transition

    Right-click the phase or transition, and select the delete option.

    • You cannot delete a phase if it has outgoing transitions, so delete those transitions first.

    • You cannot delete a transition if it is the only incoming transition to a phase.

    • If you delete a transition that is the primary transition, it is best to clear the Primary Transition check box before deleting it and to select a different transition as the primary one.

    Only space admins can delete phases defined on the shared space level.

    Admins for the workspace cannot delete or modify transitions created from the workspace on a shared space workflow.

    As you modify the workflow, it is refreshed automatically.

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Create workflow rules

You can create rules to customize workflow from the workflow diagram and also from the Rules settings area.

In this section:

Define workflow rules in the workflow diagram

You can define workflow rules for the currently-selected phase or the currently-selected transition.

  1. In the RULES pane on the right, click + to add a rule.

    The RULES pane on the right displays rules for the currently-selected phase or transition only.

  2. Define the rule.

    For details, see Design business rules.

  3. Click Save in the RULES pane.

Define workflow rules in Rules settings area

If you click the Rules tab at the top (not from the Rule panel), you see the rules defined for the currently-selected entity, including the rules you just created from workflow.

You can add more workflow rules and modify existing workflow rules.

The Phase column in the grid shows the phases for which you created the rule. These rules do not run for any other phase.

For details, see Design business rules.

Sharing workflow rules between spaces

This section explains how workflow rules can be shared across workspaces and be customized for individual workspaces.

  • Workflow rules defined in a workspace are only available to that workspace.

  • Workflow rules defined for shared workflows are available to associated workspaces.

  • Workflow rules defined for a shared workflow can be customized for individual workspaces.

Here we demonstrate how ALM Octane handles shared workflow rules and their customization.

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Customize phases and transitions at the workspace level

There are two models of workflow customization at the workspace level:

  • By default you can extend phases, but not add phases or modify transitions of extended phases. This ensures that shared space workflows are enforced at the workspace level, as described in the sections above.

  • In some organizations, space admins may want to allow workspace admins to add phases and modify their transitions. This is defined per workspace, as described in the following section.

Caution: This is not reversible. Once you define a workspace as permissive, allowing phase and transition customization, you cannot revert the workspace to the restrictive model.

To enable phase and transition customization

  1. In Settings > Spaces, create a new workspace or edit an existing workspace.

  2. By default, the Workflow customization field is set to Phase extension only. To enable phase and transition customization, set this field to Phases and transitions.

  3. Refresh the view to activate this new setting.

    You can now modify phases and transitions at the workspace level, as described in Set up workflows.

Tip: The space admin can set a default workflow customization setting for all new workspaces, using the space parameter WORKFLOW_CUSTOMIZATION_IN_NEW_WORKSPACE.

Workspace-level phases and transitions

  • In the Phases and transitions mode, phases at the workspace level still have a master phase that influences business rule behavior, shared workflows, and cross-workspace reporting.

  • Local transitions can be deleted.

  • You cannot set a new transition to be the primary transition. The transition inherited from the shared space remains the primary transition.

  • When you add a phase at the workspace level, you cannot modify its metaphase. This is inherited automatically from its parent (master) phase.

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Next steps: