Save Time and Increase Productivity with Workflow Automation
“There’s just never enough time in the day”, we’re all very familiar with this saying. From the busy sales rep who is constantly trying to follow up with leads, to the project manager who is trying to organize and juggle multiple deadlines, the feeling is mutual. For today’s discussion however, I’d like challenge you to think less about needing more time, and more about being efficient with the time that you do have.
Knowing that we can only humanly accomplish so much, new businesses have come to the rescue each and every day. No time to cook? Call delivery. No time to shop? Order online. Insightly has also taken on the mission to help you stay productive, and that’s why we released Workflow Automation.
Hi, my name is Alyssa Andrade and I’m a Customer Success Specialist here at Insightly. I’m a product expert who has talked to hundreds of customers and seen firsthand how Insightly’s features like Workflow Automation can help businesses save time and increase their productivity. During the next hour I’ll be posting my insights in three parts and will be in the community, live, taking questions. Please post your comments and questions below (don’t forget to login to the help center!). I’d love to hear your best practices for how your company has used workflow automation to save time.
Part I: Identify What's Most Time Consuming for Your Team
When I talk to customers during onboarding trainings or account reviews, I begin the conversation by asking several questions that allow me to understand their business a little better. One of the most important questions that ensures I guide them to success is, “what do you spend most of your time doing?” This question applies to individuals and teams alike, and typically provokes the customer to think about their daily routine and task list. One of the most frequent answers I hear is that they spend too much time sending emails, and not enough time focusing on major deals. Another is that their task list is always too long and they can’t get around to completing it all. To succeed as a business, you need to recognize where there is room to improve due to inefficiencies and streamline your workflow.
Workflow Automation* was created with all of these pain points in mind. With an ultimate goal to alleviate the need to perform repetitive, time consuming tasks, workflows free up time to concentrate on other value action items - in many cases, those major deals or important projects. With Workflow Automation you can send emails, update records, create new records, or add a new task to your to do list. Once you understand where the problems lie, you can work on addressing them.
*Workflow Automation is currently available on the Professional and Enterprise plans. If you'd like to talk with one of our Sales team members about changing your plan, please let us know!
Imagine if every one of your new leads received a personalized email within seconds of submitting a “Contact Us” form. Or, if a prospect received a follow up email three days later, all automatically. Workflows are like smart robot assistants that live in your Insightly account. You tell them what to do, and when to do it, and they take action when needed. This automation not only takes the pressure off of the sales rep to send out emails quickly, but also establishes a better connection between the lead and the rep.
Ultimately, it allows the reps to focus on meaningful and actionable work, versus easier, qualifying tasks. It also allows for significantly more touch points in one day than would otherwise be manageable.
Admins are the only ones in Insightly who can create workflows, but I’d like to think of it as a team effort. If you’re a user without admin access, propose a new workflow to your admin to help with efficiency. Ultimately whatever helps you, will help the business.
There are four main steps for setting up a new workflow: the Process, the Criteria, the Triggers, and the Actions. If you look at the diagram below, the sequence of steps basically goes from the outside - in. Let’s start with the outermost layer, Process. Here you will determine which types of records Insightly will be evaluating. In other words, which records do you want Insightly to monitor for this specific workflow. Then you will choose Criteria, which allows you to determine what specific information Insightly needs to look out for. In the example below, the process chose Contacts as the designated record type and the criteria is specifically saying that this workflow will look for Contacts that have a London address. Next up is Triggers. Here, you configure when you want an action to take place (whether it’s immediately or in the future). Last is the Action. Here you choose what specifically you want Insightly to do for you (send an email, create a task, etc).
Pro Tip: When you’re setting up a triggered email within workflow automation, you can format the “First Name” field to populate in the body of the email (see highlighted button below). This populates the lead’s name upon delivery. Voila, email personalized!
- Take the time to evaluate your daily functions before actually setting up Workflow Automation
- Remember that workflows can help eliminate repetitive and manual processes to motivate employees and allow them to focus on more important tasks
- Use personalized workflows to drive interest and establish and maintain relationships between your team and prospects or customers
Part 2: Encourage Consistency and Reduce Error
Another common issue I hear is that teams spend too much time entering data and often make mistakes due to lack of established processes, an overwhelming amount of work, or just plain carelessness. While some of this is inevitable to a certain extent, there are definitely ways to utilize workflows to streamline your processes and provide consistency across your team.
Workflow Automation has the ability to update information in Insightly based on specific criteria that you set up. To configure this in your account, you would use the “Update This Record” action.
By using this action type, you can trigger information to auto-populate a specified record with just the click of a button. As an admin, you determine what information populates so this gives you control and can significantly help establish a level of consistency across your business. This is beneficial when onboarding new hires or revising your processes. In addition, this will also help reduce potential errors that someone may make when entering data.
Use Case: Every time a consultant sets up a new project, certain custom fields would autofill based on the selected category. For example, let’s say one company uses the Category field as a way to distinguish the different company types they work with (SMB, Medium, and Enterprise). Whenever a specific category option is selected, Insightly would automatically update other custom fields such as “Service List” or “Projected Hours” based on the corresponding workflow settings. This automation frees up the consultant from needing to update all custom fields and assures correct data for reporting purposes.
"Want to set it up for yourself? Here's how it looks in Insightly:
Step 1 - Create a workflow name and choose when to evaluate each record
Step 2 - Add the evaluation criteria
Step 3 - Add which actions should be taken when the record updates
Pro Tip: Instead of creating multiple workflows to make various updates, simply add a new set of criteria and actions to an existing workflow by clicking on the “Add Criteria” button. This saves you from needing to recreate the workflow process steps. Below you can see I entered a new set of criteria and actions if the Enterprise Category is selected, as well.
Can your business take advantage of this type of workflow? Feel free to ask any questions if you’re curious how auto update can work for you.
- Establish workflows to easily disclose internal processes for new and existing employees
- Eliminate manual error that would otherwise cost precious time and resources to address
Part 3: Encourage Consistency and Reduce Error
An additional pain point customers share is that a lack of internal communication causes significant delays in progress. If there is a team project and one person forgets to notify another team member of an update, a project deadline can easily get missed.
Imagine if the notification process was built into your workflow so that updates were automatically sent. Insightly not only sends emails to notify other team members, but also automatically creates a task for that team member with designated details and a due date.
Here’s how the setup would look:
Step 1: Choose the “Add Task” action
Step 2: Add desired task details
*Adding a due date is optional, but is helpful if your team needs to stick to a preferred timeline. If you don’t select a due date, the person responsible for the task can update it manually.
Managers can also take advantage of internal notifications by setting up alerts when any team members have a major accomplishment. From closing a sale to completing a project, you don’t want these huge milestones to go unnoticed! The “Send an Email” action is best in this scenario!
Pro Tip: One workflow can streamline multiple actions items at once. This means that you can have an email auto triggered as well as a new record created, or new task assigned all at once. In the workflow below, I’ve told Insightly to send an email to my boss when I’ve won an opportunity, and also create a new project automatically.
Use Case: Sales teams have the taxing yet rewarding job of closing sales. Managers can set up a workflow to alert them when deals close to maintain awareness of business metrics or to send a message to congratulate them. Even better, if they prefer to receive notifications only when the closed deals meet a certain revenue threshold, you can set these parameters within the workflow criteria.
- With the appropriate notifications set up, employees no longer need to manually notify each other when a process is complete or major milestone is achieved.
BONUS - Integrate with Other Frequently Used Tools
If your business works with others tools, you can set up webhooks in Workflow Automation to update these outside sources. Now, multiple applications can work together in one process. One thing to note, though: you may need to work with your technical staff if you don’t have programming knowledge yourself.
Setting up webhooks are great for companies who would like a change in Insightly to update tools such as ActiveCampaign, Olark, Zapier and more!
Set your business and your team up for success by improving efficiency with Workflow Automation. Not only do workflows help make management’s life easier, they can also significantly cut down on the time and cost spent with various tasks, keeping all team members involved and informed.
When you’re on your way to workflow bliss, here are some key points to remember:
- Workflows should be designed with teamwork in mind. Get input from the team before setting anything up to assure the right pain points are addressed.
- Configuring workflow actions to trigger immediately or for a future date can save significant time and alleviate unnecessary stress.
- Automating manual tasks helps open up resources and allows employees to focus on growing the business and generating new and innovative ideas. The more workflows, the merrier!