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[Webinar] Mapping your Workflow Engine to Increase Productivity and Efficiency

With a configurable workflow engine your organization will have the freedom to focus on the efficiency of your business processes rather than creating workarounds to handle the processes.

Whether you have thousands of members or a couple hundred, workflow automation provides you the ability to concentrate on what matters - your community. 

 

In this webinar you'll learn how your organization can benefit from: 

  • Workflow automation
  • Knowing when and how often each workflow should be triggered
  • Configuring your system around your business, not the other way around
  • Creating an efficient business process based on triggered dependencies
  • Increased productivity by streamlining communication between staff
  • A smooth, healthy and happy organization

 

Your organization will run smoothly, resulting in a happy and healthy community. We will see you on the 23rd. Join Nima Jazbi, Director of Customer Service. he will explore the benefits of using a workflow engine to streamline and automate your business needs.

 

nima
 Nima Jazbi

 Nima is the Director of Customer Service at PerfectMind. With a background in  Management Information Systems (MIS) and eight years implementing streamlined  processes, Nima understands the significant impact a customized workflow engine has on  growing a successful business.



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Video Transcript

Alright. Hello everyone, I hope everyone can hear me. Welcome to today's webinar. We're going to be talking about workflows today. I want to take the opportunity to first start with a question. And the question that we all ask ourselves and I bet the answer is yes. The question is can you name in the inefficient process in your business? I guarantee you, everyone in this room is going to say yes. No matter what business I go to, I basically continuously see inefficient processes within every business. The business is basically, and we all have this problem. Whenever we go into this problem, and looking at the inefficient processes, and the question I ask and everyone knows that their process is inefficient. The question I ask is why? Why are we doing things in such an inefficient method? And usually the question and the answer that I get is since we are limited to actually the process based on our software limitations. The softwares that we use in our business, although they help us in managing existing processes, it helps us in simplifying task, but a lot of time it force us to do task in a certain way. In result of that, majority of us are really just limited of how that software redefine a task should be done. What is the process said that software developers at that company develop, and you as a business, you always have to follow that. This happens in any size of business. I've been to small businesses with small gyms martial arts schools and dance, / bigger organizations and even municipalities and cities. In big recs centers it's always the case. Depending on the software that's employed, some processes are defined due to how that software functions. This is not just management software /. This is any type of software that you have. Even from billing softwares or credit card terminals, just how they work, or who has access, or where the credit card terminal is located, it actually forces you as a business owner, as a manager or employee of the business to act or follow certain processes. The question that we want to ask today is kind of talk about and we're talking about workflows. But first of all let's define workflows before we go on and talk about automation versus manual.

What are workflows? It's a name that and terminology we've heard, I'm sure most of you in this room have heard, you came to the webinar due to talking about workflow engines. But what are workflows to begin with? Workflows are overall a series of activities. These are series of activities that are necessary to complete an objective or task. Essentially if you want to map it for you and for all the business people in the room, there are your business processes. So in a system world, in a software world, they turn to become workflows.

Now what are automated workflows versus manual workflow? Manual workflows are a series of tasks that you do one after another. So there are processes that you define in your business and your employees or basically staff your must follow to be able to complete an objective or task. For example when basically a call comes to register to a certain course, write it in this piece of paper, and the piece of paper the person acts are going to make the calls or they're going to inform the instructor and so on and so forth. Or when a membership is expiring, you basically print a list, pass it to person acts from the membership team so they can make the call and if basically call is made and answer, and the member wants to renew, complete this action. If the member doesn't want to renew, complete this ask. So all of these are essentially your manual processes or manual workflows in your business. If you just take a moment into kind of think about it, I'm sure you can think of many of these manual processes in your business. To be frank you can't automate every single process in your business. Some processes are still business defined and it has to be done manually.

Now what are the automated workflows or automated processes that you can actually insert into your business? Those could be actions that happen automatically based on other actions. Kind of a series of actions and activities that happen due to an original activity that has happened. For example if a call comes in or if an email comes in, certain action should take place in a certain order.

05:00

Or when basically a reservation is done online, or even by your front desk team or the reservation team, what series of action should take place after that - who should be notified, what tasks should be completed after that. It should be a reminder upon completion of the reservation, should be a thank you email going out after the reservation is completed, or maybe a survey asking them how was their interaction with your business. All of these are series of automated tasks. So think about all these little things that you are currently doing manually that can be done automatically, it can be automated with a simple proper application essentially.

Overall the processes should be designed based on these practices. This is common sense. What are best practices though? Best practices, yes some best practices are defined the business level. So in the different types of business, certain things should be done in a certain way, which will produce results. However there's a lot of factors to really define what are the best practices for your business or for your organization. Because best practices completely change depending on the location you are, type of the business you have, type of the clients you have, your size of the business. Business has three employees has complete different best practices versus basically business that has hundreds of employees. Or things they can do are very different, or basically depending on the service you offer, the best practices completely change. But the best practices are things that yes as a business if you understand the type of the business, certain things can be defined, but overall a lot of things happen on the business level which should define your own business best practices based on your interaction with your customers and your basically clientele over time.

Configuring your system around your business is basically what should be all softwares do. A lot of times we do see that businesses are configuring around their system, meaning because of the limitations of the system or what they can do or what they can deliver, we change our existing business process to follow that. That's not something that in business is proper, and it does create issues down the road.

What is in a workflow automation? We / talk about. Again workflow automation is a series of activities that can be triggered based on another activity. What are overall benefits of basically automating any type of workflow in your business, are some things can be reducing for example errors, to prevent tasks from falling to the crux. This happens / in any business. A lot of the times because of all these tasks that we're having, all of these manual workflows that we have built in our system, things get forgotten, things get missed all the time, things fall through the cracks. Employees basically forget to do different things. And that's just because a lot of things are manual, a lot of things require labor to be completed.

Another benefit that it has is empowering your employees to successfully manage their own work, with little or no supervision at all. What that means is in majority of businesses, no matter the size of the business, you go / last employee, a lot of the time at least 20% of the time is wasted trying to figure out what they should do that day, what are the priorities for that day. Or in situations that employees leave the organization, or are not there due to holidays or vacation, really making sure that those tasks still, as I mention on Point 1, is not falling through the cracks because that person has the original information and understood the processes. Now that they left the organization temporarily or as a permanent basis, what happens to the task, what happens to all these actions that they had to take and activities they had to do on daily basis.

Let's talk a little bit more about kind of the task and empowering really employees in managing their own workflow. Another thing that basically happens with employees I mention is employees are majority of times not as efficient as they could. And again that happens because they're getting direction either from different people, which is due to lack of management or poor management.

10:01

But most of all is really not being able to recall what they need to do every day, or be able to remember all the tasks they have to do, and to be able to prioritize them properly. This is not an easy thing to do for any employee.

So what are the benefit of automating workflows is to be able to actually improve the task list or making your employees essentially more efficient, to be able to complete the tasks that had been assigned to them, by always knowing what tasks are due on what dates, by always being notified what they should be doing this day, and by basically the system reminding them of the things that are important for the business, and actions that are important for the business to take place.

In regards to when and how often each workflow should be triggered, this is a question more for the business. For each workflow depending on the type of workflow, the type of process that we're talking about, the answer to this answer could possible change. Some of the workflows are things that should happen in daily basis, things that like for example every Monday certain cleaning task has to be completed. These are the things that are regularly happens in a regular basis on certain days of the week or certain dates in the month.

Some other task or and workflows are actions that should be taking place whenever another activity happens. For example when a student or client's membership expires, then a basically workflow should be triggered to notify or create activities for other people to do.

Some other things are basically in situations that in a daily basis. So in a daily basis, a certain group of people due to the criteria they fall under certain action should happen. For example in some businesses especially the membership type businesses, if a member has forgotten or has not attended classes for X amount of time, for example they should be notified via email, via SMS, and be checked on. Or if someone's payment has failed over time, basically after certain amount of days they should be notified.

The best way for me to be able to explain this, I want to actually show you guys the system live in action, so it can potentially make more sense for you guys. Within the PerfectMind system, some of you guys in this room are already PerfectMind clients or already have seen PerfectMind one way or another. PerfectMind actually is a platform. So what is a platform is an ability for you to be configured based on any business processes. So we can configure the application to work with your existing business processes, versus forcing you to follow certain processes that we have in place. One of the main functions that we have which is going to help you is obviously the workflow system, the reason that all of us are in the session today.

I got a message by the way that one of our members were not able to see the screen. Can everyone see the screen right now? Can you type in 'yes' if you are able to see the screen? Awesome, alright, so we're going to just continue on this.

The workflow system and the workflow engine that we have in PerfectMind is very powerful. Right now one of the databases that I have and as you see there's a lot of workflows that are already built in for this specific business that we'll / today. You are able to see some information here, such as the name of the workflow that's given by the user, the date that was created, the date that it was last triggered, and if it's still active or not. As basically businesses grow, processes change, so some workflows are retired and new ones are developed. So that's why we have an active or non-active checkbox.

There was a question that are asked 'how often should a workflow be triggered?' and that's a question that you can answer based on your existing knowledge of the business process. You're able to say your workflow should be triggered as soon as a record is created. So maybe as soon as a new client has joined your business, you want certain actions to take place, maybe a letter to be emailed to them welcoming them to the family, or maybe a basically task should be created for one of the staff members to call them, or take them to a tour through the facility. These are some of the examples of basically when a workflow should be triggered if the criteria is when the record is created.

15:00

Other situation is when the record is updated, meaning a change is done on the contact, or on really any task or part of the system and your record within the system. So let's say when a transaction fails or when a certain piece of information's created or added to someone's file. So let's say you create a field on your members and saying 'need information'. So what you can do is you can say as soon as that field is populated with need / to be signed, as a writing that your admin team adds on their contact, a certain series of actions take place, maybe an email is sent to the member asking them and reminding them about that piece of information. Or maybe basically task is created to follow up in five days, to make sure that / brought that piece of information in. So all of these could be some of the examples for the update trigger.

The other case is record is deleted. So as soon as maybe a note is deleted on the contact, or basically an activity is created or booking is deleted in this, maybe the managers aren't notified, so they / that deletion so they can audit the task of your employees.

You can also within PerfectMind develop your own buttons. So you can actually create a button which triggers a workflow in the background. Maybe you have a button that says 'Send welcome email'. As soon as you click that button, a certain type of email is sent out. Or certain task is created or series of task is created for different employees as soon as that button is clicked. You're also able to have the workflows triggered using custom buttons that you develop for your own business.

Lastly one of my favorite types is in the situation that you want to time the workflow. You want the workflow to always run in background, and as soon as a certain criteria is met in your business, you want the actual action to trigger. We're going to go over some examples so you can see these actually live in action as well.

When / time base workflows, in this case every hour, means the system every hour's going to actually check all the records that you ask for it to check. And if the right criteria is met which is defined again by you, you're able to trigger the workflow. What you're able to do is also say that I want the frequency of this time base workflow to happen any time the criteria is met. That means that any time the record meets that certain criteria, no matter what you want that actually actions and workflows to be triggered. Or you only want it once in the history. So for example if you want a certain email to be sent automatically to the contact, or certain actions to be created for your different teams in your organization, as soon as let's say a new member's joined or new contract is added in your business, what you are able to do, you are able to limit the system to only happens once for that contact or once for that contract overall in the history that basically person or the contract. So if they meet the criteria again in the future, the system's not going to trigger that workflow again. Or what you're able to do, you can limit it to only happen once a day. So even if within the same day the criteria's met multiple times, it's not going to retrigger to create multiple tasks and confuse your staff members, or even confuse the member itself, so you can limit it to only happen once a day.

So let's say maybe in an example a payment failed. If you want to send the email to the contact whenever a payment is failed, and also create a task for your accounting team to follow up with the member, and you're processing maybe three different payments for them within that day, one for their facility rental, one for the previous membership, or one for the courses registered, you're able to actually tell the system to only send the email the first time. You don't want to send it multiple times because you're processing the transactions multiple times.

Right on top your setting up really where in the system you want the actual workflow to be triggered from, so what table or what object within the application you want to be your controlling object. The question and other what to pick here really comes from your overall example - what are you trying to achieve, what is the business process, what aspect of your business is touching. Let's make a very simple example. I'll go over that quickly and we'll create that just as a sample of what you're able to do.

20:02

Let's start with very small basic aspect of your business and that is memberships. A lot of us in the room have probably memberships that expire on a certain day, so we have monthly memberships, we have annual memberships, we have three months memberships, for different things. Fitness, let's say you have fitness membership or dance membership that could expire at any given time. What you're able to do, what I would like to do, is to make sure that expired memberships are not falling to the crux, so people and the staff member are not forgetting to renew the membership. In addition to that, what I want to do, I want to get an opportunity or give the opportunity to the member to actually renew themselves. All of these are actions I could be taking to be able to improve my overall business process. If I create the workflow called 'membership expiring', now here on this next window, I can set the different rules. Depending on the rule that basically the membership meets or this automation meets, certain actions take place.

As an example, what I want to do I want to set 30 days before the membership expires. So I'm going to change the rule / to 30 days / easily identify it. I can create my criteria, which is, let's see transactions, which is membership expiring in 30 days. What I'm doing here and I know for those of you who's seeing this for the first time, it might be a little bit confusing, but I'm building my criteria. What I'm doing, I'm telling the system that from all the memberships that you have available, only look at these specific criteria of records. That criteria is that there is an expiry date which equals, and instead of putting a date because I want this to always work by itself, I don't want to actually service this work for a regular basis. So what I can say, I can say membership expiring / so I can say equals in next let's say 30 days for this specific example. But I would've had option to set today, tomorrow, this week, this year. I can do last month or last year if I want to follow up with my former members, or last amount of days. But in this day I'm going to say end days from now, and I can actually replace the end with a number, so 30 days from now is my criteria, and I simply add the criteria. Now this workflow and this rule is looking at anyone expiring, that has an expire 30 days from now, so exactly on the 30 day mark. What I'm going to do on that day, on that part, and that's again where it comes from your business. I know some of you, I've talked to in this room, you already have mapped all your business processes and you already understand what things have to happen. So you got to think about the flowchart that you've developed in your business, and really trying to actually create all those boxes and all those / that you already have in your flowchart.

The first action that I want to do, I want to /. So my first action is email. Maybe I want to send an email and I can say 'contact email', and these things are / that you learn over time and you're able to provide a documentation, but you're able to say automatically take the email of the contact and insert it in the recipient. What I can do, I can develop an email. So maybe the email that I'm developing, I'm sorry I can say what email account the email's sent from. Maybe you have multiple SMTP account, meaning that you have an email for yourself as your personal email, so nima@perfectmind.com. But I also have a membership team email. So I don't want these emails to go directly from me, I want it to go from my membership team. I would have another option here called membership@perfectmind.com. I can select the option that I'm interested in and then develop the email content. Maybe the email content is something as simple as 'hi, your membership'. What I'm able to do is sometimes use merge / that means that I can take a piece of information for their record and insert it into the email. What this does is when they actually receive the email, the email will be very customized, depending on their information. So I can say 'hi, their name essentially.' And what I can say things like 'your membership expires on this date.' What I'm able to do instead of leaving that date field empty or typing it for each individual, what I can do I can automatically just trigger the expiry date of that membership on this email.

25:06

So as I'm getting the email's going to say 'hi, Nima, your membership is expiring for example on July or on August 23,' it's 30 days. Next step maybe I can have the link for registration. I'm not going to complete this but this is just a sample for you guys. But you are able to build this workflow / again based on your business. That's the first example, my first action is to send an email. So 30 days email customer.

Now I want to say maybe my next action which is in 7 days before the actual membership expires. We're going to go and find the same field which is expiry. I'm going to say 7 days from now. Instead now that we already send the email and it hasn't worked, if this work / getting triggered again that means that person hasn't renewed obviously. So we're going to basically now send another email, or not actually an email. What we're going to do, we're going to do better than that. We can actually say I want to create now a task for my membership team so they can contact this member and renew their membership, now that said only 7 days left. What I can do instead of an action email, what I can do I can insert a new record / under my task object, so on the table of task. This is again is a little bit advance for those of you who are new, but overall just understand the concept that I'm able to either trigger an action such as an email, triggering an update so meaning update an existing record with new pieces of information. Maybe changing a flag, maybe checking a box or something like that. Or create a new record, so creating an activity or note or task, or anything like that. All of those are different type of actions that I can take.

On this case I'm saying I want to create a task. My subject for this task something that my staff / able to easily identify with is that we can say 'membership about to expire, call to renew'. This is something that if my staff member's reading it for the first time, they'll be able to easily / what's going on. What is the due date? The due date is today. What is the type of the task? It's a call.

Who should it be assigned to? Maybe I want a specific individual in my business take care of this action, so I can select that person from the list. You'll have a list of all your users in the system when you click on that icon, and maybe more description for it.

Completing an action like this and creating a rule like this, what it does it ask the system to automatically create a task 7 days prior to membership expiring, making sure that basically a call is made and the membership is renewed.

Now we've introduced a new process that came from the business and the business process is we want to email people 30 days before they expire, give them the opportunity to renew. Or maybe send another email two weeks before it expires. On 10 days before expires, you want to give them a promotion, maybe 10% off if they take the action today. Lastly if it didn't work, all those actions that we had set up, what we want to do we want to create a task for my staff to call. But what I've done, I've automated so many processes at my business that up until the last action, which was a call, to be made by my staff. Everything else was fully automated. So none of my staff had to actually go and physically write an email and send it to people, or produce a list who to send the email. All of that happens automatically within the business. As I mention, making employees more efficient. A person acts as part of the membership team, instead of coming in, running 10 reports, finding out what they have to do, checking emails from the managers with task that they need to do, they can just simply go, open their tasks and know exactly what needs to be done.

For sake of example, let's go over another example and that is since we are on the conversation of memberships, and memberships usually have some sort of reoccurring billing, let's talk about overdue payments. I went into a facility a few weeks ago and this facility is a massive facility. It was a $200 million facility, state of art, with over 2,000 members which were actively paying them and more than I think it was 10,000 clients. So very huge basically facility, offers all sorts of different activities and programs.

30:10

When I met with the membership team, I noticed that for their overdue payments, they had one person full time that was sitting in, was running all sorts of reports and making calls to people when their credit card was expired, when basically the membership was basically overduing. Really everything completely manual. When I had a conversation with them and I ask how many members do go overdue, she gave me a number. We went into the details of it. I asked her to really pull the report lists, go into details, I want to find out why people are going on overdue, becoming overdue. She mentioned 'majority of them, when I call them about 70% of them when I called they tell me that 'hey just reprocess my credit card now and should be good.'' But I asked her well how many times it takes you to actually get to that conversation? And she said 'sometimes it takes four or five attempts to actually get that person on the phone for them to eventually tell me just reprocess the card.' Or in some situations she was mentioning that it was simply as from the 30% that's left, about 50% of that are expired cards or cards that have been changed, but they had to call in to actually get that information.

I'm not saying this is a bad process overall, still I think managing all of this it's good obviously at the end of the day, it's more money for you. But I think she was just spending too much time on it. She could've made that process a lot more efficient. How she could've made the process more efficient? With some automated workflow.

For example I have some needs in this specific database. What you're able to do, you're able to have the system automatically takes some actions for you for these overdues, so you deal with a less number of overdues at the end of the day that you would have to contact. Calling your members and have it not take you, it's definitely a must and it's something that we all have to do. However you shouldn't call everyone. You should only call the ones that you have not been able to reprocess successfully, so how's your system been able to actually reprocess that transaction that / three days ago, and have it go through. Because we know statistically 70% of the credit card transactions that do fail will go to other reprocess two or three days later. That's going to reduce the list from 100 to 30. From those 30 people that you have, have you send them emails to be able to notify them that their payments are overdue, and have you been able to get replies back or have the person go through a certain link and just update their own credit card?

All these automated workflows that you can put in place at the end of the day, instead of making 100 calls a week, you're only making 10. I make some rules here for example, 30 days when, let's start with something earlier. So seven days after a payment has failed, I have the system to automatically check and email the client, 'hey, you have an overdue a month, there's more than zero to hold this, it's been seven days since you are behind your payment.' I'm not processing your payment at this time. What I want to do, I want to email you, just notify you, 'hey, just to let you know we tried processing your credit card for this fee on this day and your payment failed. Let us know if we should reprocess again or if you have changed your credit card number, please click on the link / and update it.' All of these are actions that you could take that could drastically reduce these number of the / ones your overdues that you have.

Maybe I have a different action when it comes to 30 days or 40 days. And maybe at that point is when on the 30 day mark that I want to create a task for my staff member to actually contact that person. So on the 30 day mark maybe I send an email , the language changes slightly, notifying them in different tone that they are behind and they're behind in 30 days. Maybe I want to stop their access to classes and courses now because it's been overdue for 30 days. Also maybe I want to create another task for person acts as part of my billing team to contact them and follow up with their billing. Or for those of you who are working with collection, maybe at this point is when you send an email and set out to the customer to the collection company and asking them to follow up with his person. So again depending on your business process, you can develop this to actually work alongside of your business and help you manage your business processes better.

35:06

We'll go over one last example and then we'll go on the questions. The other example that I had, and again I went to a business, this is about a month ago. What they had, they were huge on renting facilities. These guys were renting hundreds and hundreds of facilities on daily basis, big, big facility. They had meeting rooms, they had I think about 10 meeting rooms. They had baseball court, they have about nine or 10 different basically fields that they were able to rent out. A lot of different combinations. One of their major problems was upon completion of the booking, they wanted to actually notify the maintenance team or the people that were in charge of setting up those facilities for those events. For example maybe there was a rental for a meeting, and they want 10 chairs and four tables in. It's just they had to notify someone so the set up is done.

What they were doing at that time, they were running a report on a daily basis, knowing what are the actual bookings for the next day, and they had an email group with 50 people on it, each person was for different department. They were sending these emails out, saying 'hey, tomorrow there's a booking for let's say a wedding, and you got to do this set up.' But in this email group, not everyone was part of the wedding setup team, or part of the a team that was managing that certain facilities that the wedding was actually happening on. So in result, everyone was getting a lot of emails and spam. I talked to one of the people that was part of this email group, and the person was mentioning to me that every day he has at least 30 emails, and only two of them are relevant to him. So he had to go through, read them, delete them. And in cases, he didn't say it happen often, but in cases he was mentioning that I've accidently deleted an email that was related to me because i was just going through cleaning my inbox, and it results we've got surprised during a booking when the customer showed up, the room was not set up yet.

This is an example I'm sure a lot of you relate to in this room. What basically read it for their business and to be able to help with this process, we actually create a new workflow for maintenance / or set up instructions, whatever we want to call it, this is just my internal name. What I set it to be is whenever basically a record is created, whenever a booking is done, or whenever record is updated. So this was my rules and criteria for it. I have one rule for this becaue it hasn't separated their maintenance team yet, but you're able to technically do it. So you're able to say for example one rule for let's say the sports team, the other rule for big events team, and so on and so forth, one rule for outdoor facility team. So depending on really what team is affected or what type of facility is booked. But the actions that we wanted to do it simply every time there's a set up instruction, so I set up a criteria that facility set up instruction is not empty, and the event starts tomorrow, so I could've had this rule to say if the event starts in five days, or event stars in six hours or three hours. So depending on your business process, you can actually the system to really adjust and fit that and improve your existing process, to send it or create a task for that person as part of that maintenance team, so they don't forget to actually do it. Maybe the task is not something your business in comfortable for and you would rather email, well you can easily set up emails as well to be done for this action.

Something simple as that really completely improved the process of that business, because they were forced to actually have the process they had in place today, because their existing application was not allowing anything else. So their existing application was only allowing an email to be printed, so in results they've adapted and offered such a process.

At this point I think we went over enough examples, so this idea sinks in for everyone and why workflows are important for business, and why is automating workflows so important for each business, and why we actually have developed a tool like this to be able to assist with that. So at this time, I'll go to questions, I'll be happy to answer any type of question, and go from there. By the way again I got a message that my voice is cutting out. So again if that's happening, do message. If that's not happening then you should be good to go. So I leave the floor open, if you guys have any questions about things that you want to accomplish with workflows or overall about the idea of what workflows are, please type it in the question box. And if not then we can conclude the session for today.
Whitney Donaldson
Whitney Donaldson

Whitney is the Marketing and Events Coordinator for PerfectMind. She brings four years of marketing and communications experience with a focus in the digital media and technology industries. She has a Marketing Management Certificate from BCIT and an English Literature degree from the University of Victoria. She is an avid runner and swimmer, and enjoys spending her free time outdoors. She is motivated by a good cup of coffee, and conversations that convert a great idea into a reality.

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