Automated Workflows for Client Intake Requests OR “How We Got Our Friday Afternoons Back!”

There’s nothing like the feeling of a job well done, especially when you can step back and see the results of your efforts.  Knowing that you successfully identified, tackled and addressed a challenge for your entire team is an awesome accomplishment.  Creating an automated workflow is no different.

What started as “Hey, we need to create a set of forms for clients to create an intake request, then create a task from the email sent, and assign it to the correct person based on the request type”, turned into a fully automated process.  Here’s how we did it.

The Challenge:

Create a way for clients to:

  • Request assistance or work to be done
  • Capture the designated requirements for the request type

Then:

  • Create a task assigned to the correct team member to do the work
  • Notify the internal team member that a task has been created and assigned to them

The Solution:

Build a workflow utilizing a variety of tools to create a seamless, automated process that is simple for everyone involved.

The Tools Used:

Short.cm, Formstack, Zapier, Teamwork, Slack and Google Drive

Formstack and Gmail

We decided to use Formstack to generate our forms due to the robustness of the product and the ease of creating dynamic forms.  We have 6 different types of requests, so the client starts on the first page and selects the type of request, and is then presented with a series of pages and questions relevant to the request type and answers to questions along the way.  When the request is submitted, Formstack sends an email with all of the details included on the form, including a Google Drive link if a file was uploaded. Gmail filters allow the emails to forward to team members.  This is great backup if there are questions without having to go into the app. Any team member can easily see the raw data that was originally captured.

Zapier, Teamwork Projects and Google Drive

From there, Zapier picks it up (we 💖 Zapier!).  First it runs each request through a series of filters to determine the request type and the correct Zap to use.  From there, a task is automatically created in Teamwork Projects (our Project Management Tool) with the data passed through from the intake form, and assigned to the correct person to complete the task, along with an estimated due date and required tags.  If the client included a file upload with the request, it was automatically stored in Google Drive by Formstack, and a link to the file is sent along with the other data as part of the intake request. 

Zapier and Slack

Once the task is created, Zapier then sends a message to the Slack channel for the client company notifying the team member that a new task has been created for them, the name of the task, and a link to open the task with Teamwork Projects.  (Note this workflow was created prior to the announcement of a brand shiny new Slack/Teamwork integration announced literally the day of this writing. )

Short.cm

The last piece of the puzzle was to use Short.cm to create a customized URL to share with the client’s team.  This allowed us to simply create a meaningful, customized link to share with the client.  By utilizing the mapping of Short.cm we were able to move the forms from one location to another while our new website was being built without any visibility or disruption to the client.

Final Thoughts

While this particular workflow did take a bit of time to set-up, test, tweak and release – it has been well worth the effort!  Our clients now know the exact information they need to submit with each request type, which has eliminated a lot of back of forth emails which can get lost.  Our has the complete information they need to complete the requests, and they get an alert when an intake is received.  Everyone is happy!  Our next step will be to add and integrate a ticketing system, which will then send an automated notification when the request is completed back to the client. We’ll update you when we get that in place. 

One final note: remember to DOCUMENT EVERYTHING.  There will be a time when something has to be updated.  When (not if) this happens you’ll want to know all of the impact points.  One tweak to the flow might require changes in multiple places, and you don’t want to figure that out by trial and error.  Months after you’ve moved on to other things you may not necessarily remember exactly how clever you were when setting up your original workflows.

Have more to add or consider? Let us know in the comments!

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