Creating workflows

Learn the basics of creating workflows so you can start automating your client process.

Sam Gioia avatar
Written by Sam Gioia
Updated over a week ago

Updated Sep 4, 2023

Workflows are a powerful tool to automate your client process! They can automatically send forms, emails, scheduling invites, and more to your client through a project. A workflow can even create a todo for your task list and change a project's status. The possibilities are nearly endless!

Before getting started

Before you build a workflow, you’ll need the following ready:

  • Your client process. You may have more than one process if you offer multiple services but start with the easiest one.

  • All of the content (packages, canned emails, forms, etc.) for that process created in your Dubsado account. You might want to check our setup checklist.

  • A solid understanding of clients, projects, templates, and how to manage a project manually by sending forms, emails, invoices, etc. without a workflow.


Create a new workflow

There are a few different ways a workflow can be applied to a project, but the most common is through a lead capture form. Therefore, it's usually helpful to start your workflow with the first action you take as soon as a new lead comes in. You might send them a quick follow-up email or a questionnaire.

To create a new workflow:

  1. Go to Templates > Workflows.

  2. Click Add Workflow in the upper right corner.

  3. Name your workflow then click Next Step.

Your new workflow is created and you can start adding workflow actions!


Add workflow steps

Workflows are made up of actions. Each action is a step that the workflow will run automatically when the conditions to trigger that action are met.

To build each step in your workflow:

  1. Click Add Action.

  2. Choose what you want the workflow to do from the Action dropdown.

  3. Specify when the workflow should perform this action by selecting a trigger in the When section.

  4. Customize the content that will be sent for this action, if applicable. Each action has its own set of options.

  5. Click Apply to save the action.

  6. Continue adding actions until your process is built.

Workflow actions

Workflow actions are what the workflow will do. For example, an action could be sending an email or creating a reminder.

You can divide the workflow actions in Dubsado into three categories:

  • Sending content actions

  • Project management actions

  • Workflow management actions

Sending content

These actions are the ones most commonly thought of when a workflow comes to mind — automatically sending emails, forms, or invoices to your client.

Based on the type of content you want to share, you'll have different options to configure when you create your workflow template:

Project management

Certain actions can help you keep projects organized and on track, including automatically adding a tag, creating a reminder, or changing a project status at a specific milestone.

Explore these actions to keep your projects organized and on track:

  • Create Todo: Create a task in your task list for yourself or one of your multi-users (not your client) with the option to send an email reminder to the assigned user

  • Change Project Status: Move the project into the project status of your choice

  • Add Tag: Add one or more tags to the project

  • Activate/Deactivate Portal: Activate or deactivate the client portal (this will not set a password or send any notifications to the client)

  • Archive Project: Archive the project and pause all workflows running on that project

Workflow management

You can even include actions that help you manage the workflow itself to affect how the workflow runs:

  • Pause Workflow: Prevent the workflow from completing any actions until it is manually un-paused

  • Hold Actions Until: Prevent future actions from running until triggered, but only works on actions triggered "after all previous actions complete"

  • Start a Workflow: Apply and activate a new workflow on the project

Workflow triggers

The trigger is the "when" component of the workflow action. It's the condition you want to be met before that action runs.

Relative vs fixed date

For any workflow action, you will set a relative or fixed date. This means you will decide whether it should run relative to other conditions or actions in the workflow (99.9% of cases) or whether it should run on a fixed date.

Relative triggers are the best to use when setting up workflow templates you will use with every client. The relative option allows you to choose a condition specific to the project for the action to watch for, such as a contract being signed or an invoice paid.

For relative triggers, you can also build in a delay of X amount of days, weeks, or years.

A fixed date trigger is a specific date and time when the action will run every time this workflow is applied. Only use fixed dates for workflows related to a holiday special or specific event where everyone will be on the same timeline.

Require approval before completing this action

Approving before sending gives you manual control over when an action runs, allowing you to make edits to the action or determine whether or not you want it to run. If you don't approve an action right away, when it comes time for that action to trigger, you will receive an email alert reminding you to approve that action.

General triggers

There are two general purpose triggers:

Project date triggers

These project date triggers will look specifically at the project date that you set. With each project, there are two dates that the workflow can look at, the start date and the end date. You can use these triggers to have actions happen on either side of these two dates.

If you only have one project date, rather than a date range with a start and end, then you can use any combination of the triggers. The single project date will be treated as both the start and end date.

Client progress triggers

These triggers watch for client progress:

  • After Form Is Completed: Watches for a specified form that has already been sent through the same workflow to be completed by the client

  • After Form Is Not Completed: Watches for a specified form that has already been sent through the same workflow to still be incomplete; the action will not run if the form is completed prior to the action being triggered

  • After Contract Is Signed by Client: Watches for the main contract on the project to be signed by the client

  • After Invoice Paid in Full: Watches for the primary invoice on the project to be paid in full with no remaining balance

  • After Invoice Installment Paid: Watches for a specified installment on the primary invoice to be paid; requires you to set a payment plan for the workflow template

Appointment triggers

Appointment triggers can be used when you have previously added the Send Appointment Scheduler action to the same workflow.

The scheduler triggers will only work when you've sent the scheduler through the workflow. It won’t work if a client fills out a scheduler embedded on your website or if you add a scheduler to their project manually.

These triggers can watch for an appointment to be scheduled, an appointment start time, or an appointment end time:

  • After an Appointment Is Scheduled: Relative to when the client schedules an appointment through a specified scheduler template that has already been sent through the same workflow

  • Before an Appointment Start Time: Relative to the start time of an appointment scheduled through a specified scheduler template that has already been sent through the same workflow

  • After an Appointment has Ended: Relative to the end time of an appointment scheduled through a specified scheduler template that has already been sent through the same workflow


General workflow tips

Don't skip the prep

We have resources like our setup checklist and before building workflows to help you be efficient with your workflows. Taking the time to prepare your process and content will make building your workflows go more smoothly!

Your workflow does not need to be perfect

Don't let perfection keep you from starting! Draft up your workflow and test it out. You will continue to make changes to your workflows as your business and process change over time.

Be specific with your triggers

The more specific you are in the trigger you set for each action, the more tailored the workflow will be. You won't need to worry about five emails sending to the client at one time. Think carefully about what really needs to happen before each action should run.

Test, test, and test some more

Never apply a workflow to a real client's project if you haven't tested it on yourself first. Create a test project with yourself as the client. The extra time and attention you put into testing and adjusting your workflow before running it on a real client will pay off!

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