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:
Go to Templates > Workflows.
Click Add Workflow in the upper right corner.
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:
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.
Click Apply to save the action.
Continue adding actions until your process is built.
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
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:
Send Email: Send an email to your client without any Dubsado form or scheduler templates attached
Send Form: Send a sub-agreement, questionnaire, or proposal
Send Contract: Send the main contract for the project
Send Primary Invoice: Send the invoice that has been marked as primary to the client via email
Create Invoice: Create a new invoice from the packages you specify with the option to send via email
Send Appointment Scheduler: Send a scheduler template
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
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
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.
There are two general purpose triggers:
After All Previous Actions Complete: Will not run until every preceding action in the workflow, including checking off todos, has been completed
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 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!