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 you start, you'll need:
- Your client process written out. 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.
Where to Begin
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.
If you offer multiple services with different processes, we also recommend starting with the easiest/most straight-forward process for your first workflow!
To create a new workflow:
- Go to Templates >> Workflow.
- Click Add Workflow in the upper right corner.
- Give your workflow a title.
How to Build a Workflow
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:
- Click Add Action.
- Choose what you want the workflow to do from the Action dropdown.
- Specify when the workflow should perform this action by selecting a trigger in the When section.
- Customize the content that will be sent for this action, if applicable. Each action has its own set of options. For example, the Send Form action will ask you how the form should be sent, which form template to send, and which canned email to use.
- Click Apply to save the action.
- Continue adding actions until your process is built.
The action is what the workflow will do. When sending something to your client via workflow, be sure to choose the action specific to the kind of template you want to send.
These actions are the ones most commonly thought of when a workflow comes to mind—automatically sending emails, forms, invoices, etc. to your client.
- Send Email - sends a plain 'ole email to your client without any Dubsado form or scheduler templates attached
- Send Form - sends a sub-agreement, questionnaire, or proposal
- Send Contract - sends the main contract for the project
- Send Primary Invoice - sends the invoice that has been marked as primary to the client via email
- Create Invoice - creates a new invoice from the packages you specify with the option to send via email
- Send Appointment Scheduler - sends a scheduler template
Project Management Actions
Workflows can also help you manage your projects. Explore these actions to keep your projects organized and on track!
- Create Todo - creates 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 - moves the project into the project status of your choice
- Add Tag - adds one or more tags to the project
- Activate/Deactivate Portal - activates or deactivates the client portal, but does not set a password or send any notification to the client
- Archive Project - moves the project to the Archived status and pauses all workflows running on that project
Workflow Management Actions
We also have a few actions that affect how the workflow itself will run.
- Pause Workflow - prevents the workflow from completing any actions until it is manually un-paused
- Hold Actions Until - prevents future actions from running until triggered, but only works on actions triggered "after all previous actions complete"
- Start a Workflow - applies and activates a new workflow on the project
The trigger is the "when" component of the workflow action. It's the condition you want to be met before that action runs.
For any workflow action, you will first 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 every one will be on the same timeline.
Approve Before Sending
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.
You can turn on approval for select actions where you see the checkbox "Require approval before completing this action."
- After Workflow Started - relative to when the workflow was applied to the project
- After All Previous Actions Complete - will not run until every preceding action in the workflow, including checking off todos, has been completed
Before/After Project Start/End Date
These 4 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.
Content Completion Triggers
- 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 Scheduled Payment is Completed - watches for a specified scheduled payment on the primary invoice to be paid; requires you to set a payment schedule for the workflow template
When you use the Send Appointment Scheduler action in your workflow, you'll be able to use the three scheduler triggers.
TIP: The scheduler triggers will only work when you've sent the scheduler through the workflow, not when a client fills out a scheduler embedded on your website or added to their project manually.
- 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 excellent resources like our setup checklist and before building workflows video to help you be successful and efficient with your workflows. Taking the time to prepare your process and content will make building your workflows SO much easier... we promise!
- Your workflow does not need to be perfect the first time you build it, so do not let this keep you from starting! Draft up your workflow and test it out. You will even 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!