Insightly Insider presents: Save Time and Increase Productivity With Workflow Automation

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!

Key Takeaways:

  • 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.

Key Takeaways

  • 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.

Key Takeaway

  • 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!


In Conclusion

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!

Want to see a live demo? Join Alyssa during her live Workflow Automation webinar. Can’t make it live, watch the recorded version!




  • What time is this in the UK

  • I would love to attend but I will be in the field that day.  Will this be available to view when I have additional time?

  • Hi Gary,

    The UK is 8 hours ahead of us. This discussion will be live at 6pm your time. :)

  • Hi William,

    Great to hear you want to attend! This discussion page along with Alyssa’s Q&A will remain in the Community so you can reference it at a later date.

  • Hi everyone! We’ll be starting our Insider event at 9:00 AM PT, in approximately 10 minutes. You’re in for a treat as today’s guest host is Alyssa Andrade from our Customer Success team. :-) Alyssa is our resident product guru and has taught thousands of customers on how to best use the Insightly product. For the first time, Alyssa will be sharing her learnings in her article, Save Time and Increase Productivity With Workflow Automation. Stay tuned!

  • Hi everyone! Welcome to the Insightly Insider series. I’d proud to introduce our guest host, Alyssa Andrade.

    We’ll be posting Alyssa’s article, Save Time and Increase Productivity With Workflow Automation throughout the hour (Part I has already been posted :) and Alyssa is here with us LIVE to take your questions and share her personal tips and best practices on workflow automation. If you’d like to ask a question or share your learnings, just sign in and post your thoughts in this Comments area.

    Hi Alyssa - So happy to have you here with us today!

     *TIP: Remember to refresh your browser page periodically. This will allow the newest parts of Alyssa’s article to appear above, and allow the latest questions and answers to appear in the comments area below.


  • Where is the link to watch it?

  • Hello everyone! Thanks for joining me today! I'm extremely excited to share some tips and tricks today regarding Workflow Automation. Please feel free to ask any and all questions, or share any of your own advice as well. 

  • my thoughts exactly - where is the link to watch?

  • Hi Fernanda! So happy to have you join us! This is an online discussion so we're posting Alyssa's article above (refresh this page to see it) and Alyssa is here with us for Q&A in this Comments area. Feel free to ask her any question!

    We also have an ongoing workflow automation webinar that Alyssa hosts that you're welcome to attend. :-) The next one is on May 4th. Here is the link to register. And Alyssa also has a recorded version of her workflow automation webinar which can be found here. Thanks!

  • Hi Cynthia - Thanks for asking! While there is no video or audio component, we are posting Alyssa's best tips on workflow automation in the space above. Part I has been posted and Part II is coming at 9:20 PM. And best of all, Alyssa is here with us LIVE to take your workflow automation questions, so please don't hesitate to ask!

  • Hi Alyssa,

    We just had a question come in through Support :-) -- "You mention ACTIONS above. What are all the ACTIONS that can be done in workflow automation?"

  • Hi, We are new with Insightly, and yet to start the on-boarding. I'll be one of the Insightly Admins of our Company, and my question - when we create a workflow, in the action if we want to send an email, to whom all can we send the email to. If I add a custom field as Responsible Engineer in the opportunity, will I be able to send emails to them in the workflow action? And can you explain difference between Record Owner, creator and responsible user. Thanks.

  • This part talked about work flows, but how do you set one up?


  • Great question, thanks for forwarding over Brenda!

    Question Recap: "What are all the actions that can be done in workflow automation?"

    With Workflow Automation, you have the ability to send emails (fantastic for sales follow ups especially), automatically create a task (which helps save time from creating tasks and assigning them to team members), add a new record (helps streamline your set up process for new opportunities or projects), update a record (eliminates manual data entry) and add a webhook (which makes integrating with outside services easier!)

  • Hi everyone! Part 2 of Alyssa's article has just been posted. Please refresh your browser to see the new content above!

    Hi Sreedevi - Great question! Alyssa will be answering your question in just a moment :)

    Hi Mark - Thanks for joining us today! Take a look in Part 2 above where Alyssa walks through an example of setting up a workflow for a user case. Do you have a specific use case that you're thinking of? 

  • Can you elaborate on the action add a new record? I specifically would like to use this function to make sure that a linked Opportunity and Organization had the same data, or selected records (since our Sales reps only typically update an Opportunity). Is this a possible function of that action?

  • Keep the questions, coming! Alyssa is typing her replies as fast as she can. :-)

    Just a note: Alyssa also hosts a live webinar on Workflow Automation. The next one is on May 4th. Here's the link if you'd like to register. 

  • Hello, 


    the answer from above can you please expand on "update a record (eliminates manual data entry) and add a webhook (which makes integrating with outside services easier!)"

    What kind of updates can you do to a record? 

    How can web hooks work with Google Drive?

    Thanks and have a SUPER day!!


  • Just a reminder to refresh your page periodically to see the latest questions and read Alyssa's replies. And there's lots of good stuff still to come! Part 3 of Alyssa's article, Save Time and Increase Productivity with Workflow Automation will be posted at 9:40 AM PT and her conclusion at 9:50 AM PT. 


  • Great to see you, Erin & Robyn! Alyssa will be replying to you shortly!

  • Hi Sreedevi, thanks for posting! 

    Question Recap: "We are new with Insightly, and yet to start the on-boarding. I'll be one of the Insightly Admins of our Company, and my question - when we create a workflow, in the action if we want to send an email, to whom all can we send the email to. If I add a custom field as Responsible Engineer in the opportunity, will I be able to send emails to them in the workflow action? And can you explain difference between Record Owner, creator and responsible user. Thanks."

    Currently, when you set up a workflow, Step 1 will ask you to choose one record type for that workflow. You have the following options to choose from: Task, Contact, Organization, Lead, Opportunity and Project.

    If and only if you select the Contact or Lead record type, when you are setting up the action to send an email, you will be able to select "Email Address (Contact)" or "Email Address (Lead)"  in the "To" section. This means that anytime the email is set out, it will automatically get sent to the contact or lead based on the email address that you have on file for that particular person. 

    *Note: You cannot send emails to custom fields, only contacts or leads. 

    Likewise, if you wanted the email to be sent internally, you could use:
    Record Owner - the person who owns the record in your Insightly account (more so used for a more advanced feature we have called Advanced Permissions

    Record Creator - the person who actually created the record (many times owner and creator are the same person)

    Responsible User is the person assigned to the lead (typically the sales person who is trying close the business deal). 

    Or you can select from any of the users who are in your Insightly account. 

    Hope this helps! :)

  • Everyone - Part 3 "Improve Communication and Streamline Notifications" has been posted! Please refresh your page to see the next content above. And thanks for your patience as Alyssa replies to each of your questions. We'll be posting Alyssa's conclusion and final takeaways at 9:50 AM PT

  • Hi Mark! Do you have any specific use cases that you needed clarification or help setting up? The steps above should give you the general idea but I'm happy to try to explain anything in further detail. Thanks for posting!

  • Thanks for submitting your question Erin! 

    Question Recap: "Can you elaborate on the action add a new record? I specifically would like to use this function to make sure that a linked Opportunity and Organization had the same data, or selected records (since our Sales reps only typically update an Opportunity). Is this a possible function of that action?"

    The action "add a new record" allows you to trigger a new record to be created based on the set criteria, AND automatically pre-fill specific info on that newly created record. For example, if I wanted to create a Project when my Opportunity hit's stage 3 out of 5 because I'm going to need my colleague's help to start setting up the logistics, I would use "add a new record" to auto create this project and define specific information that I wanted to get added. 

    Here is how it would look.

    First, I'd need to define the specific criteria Insightly should look for so that the appropriate action is triggered. 

    Secondly, I'd need to make sure that I thoroughly set up all necessary actions. In my case, that I want a project created and I want certain custom field to be auto updated as well. 

    In your case it sounds like you want an Opportunity workflow to update an existing linked Organization, but unfortunately we cannot do that at this time. The rep would need to manually update any necessary information as a result of the opportunity's progress. 

  • Alyssa’s final takeaways on Workflow Automation have been posted above! There’s time for just a couple more questions before Alyssa has to leave us at 10:00 AM PT.

  • We have one last question from Support to close our discussion with - "Alyssa, of all different ways you hear customers use Workflow Automation what do you think is the best use case?"

  •  Hi there Robyn, appreciate your post! 

    Question recap: "The answer from above can you please expand on "update a record (eliminates manual data entry) and add a webhook (which makes integrating with outside services easier!) What kind of updates can you do to a record? How can web hooks work with Google Drive?"

    When you select the action "update a record" you are choosing to update the existing record the workflow is currently evaluating.

    For example, if I create a workflow and select the record type "Opportunity", once I choose the action "update a record", the workflow would update all opportunities that meet the matching criteria. If my criteria happened to say, 'update all opportunities in which the opportunity value was greater than $1000', my action could say 'update the opportunity custom field 'Priority' and auto select 'High'.

    'Update a record' could update standard fields (all of the default fields that Insightly provides) or any custom fields that you have created yourself. 

    In regards to how web hooks can work directly with Google Drive, what I'm going to do is gather some additional information and post it in just a little bit! Want to be sure I'm providing the best info possible! Cheers!

  • Great question Brenda!

    Question recap: "Alyssa, of all different ways you hear customers use Workflow Automation what do you think is the best use case?"

    The #1 workflow I see customer's set up is related to lead follow ups. Every business has a different process for qualifying and following up with leads, so the flexibility around customizing what that sequence looks like is highly appreciated by customers so that they no longer have to do the manual work themselves. From sending an auto email when the lead is created, to a check in email several days later, anything is possible to ensure the lead receives proper information and communication from the sales rep. 

    During my workflow automation webinar, I go through step by step on how to set up a lead follow up process, take a look here

    Thanks so much everyone for all of your questions, that hour sure did go by fast. Hope to see you on my webinar! 

  • This concludes today’s Insightly Insider discussion! Special thanks to our guest host, Alyssa Andrade, for being with us live (and for staying late to make sure all of our questions were answered!).

    Many thanks to each of you for participating! It was wonderful seeing so many new faces. :-)

    Alyssa’s article and our Q&A will be archived in our Community so you can reference it at anytime. Our next Insightly Insider will be on May 23rd with guest hosts, Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest, co-authors of Who’s Your Gladys. Don’t forget to check out the full Insightly Insider schedule to see past events.

    Have a great day!

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