Best Practices for Flows
Apr 9, 2023
Below is a simple three-step process to begin designing flows for your organization. The questions and concepts will help you consider different elements of the process and how to best map it out.
1. Choose a Process
- Something asked of you/your team/department
- What information is typically included in that Ask?
- Something you/your team/department asks of someone else
- What is typically being asked for?
- Happens frequently
- Has multiple steps
- Has approvers/reviewers
- Involves other teams or companies
- Possibly a task that often breaks down or gets stuck
- Common processes that take too long or require too much effort
2. List the order of events
- What are the key events within the process?
- What happens first? A meeting, email from a client, new product idea? This will be your Ask Form
- What tasks can be broken up into smaller steps for accountability and assignment?
- What teams, people, companies are involved and at what points?
- Is an approver needed? A reviewer?
3. Identify the people
- Who (people/team/client/agency) usually sends in the Ask?
- Who manages or oversees the process?
- Are there folks responsible for a single step in the process?
- Are there folks outside your organization that own parts of this process?
- Who reviews or approves?
Flow best practices
Flow Overview: Describe your flow thoroughly.
Give relevant details that will help your audience understand the purpose of the flow and save time on common questions.
- Link to internal systems or resources.
- There are often other apps, systems, guides or repositories that are required for cross-checking or data entry. Think through these resources and give users links to the guides, calendars, databases etc. Help them complete the ask thoroughly, accurately and in cooperation with company procedures.
- Add templates and documents to steps.
- If there is a specific document, template or spreadsheet that needs to be used on a particular step, attach it when building the flow. This way, step owners and submitters can open, fill out and re-attach a template without leaving the page.
Step instruction should be concise and clear.
Think about the amount of attention span your audience has. They are probably doing a couple of things at once and this process might not be familiar to them. Be informative AND be aware of their varying ability to understand a foreign process quickly.
Make Steps actionable. Example below:
- NOT RECOMMENDED Step 2 - Train Team Members
- This might take several weeks depending on schedules and could hold up the entire ask unnecessarily
- RECOMMENDED Step 2 - Send Training Calendar to Team Members
- This can be completed whether or not the team members attend the training or end up rescheduled
- PRO TIP: Set yourself up for success in this example by incorporating into a future a step a review with the client/lead on how many team members were trained.
- NOT RECOMMENDED Step 2 - Train Team Members
Use bulleting in step instructions
- When there is a lot of individual pieces of information being delivered, think about visual appeal and organization. Bullet out the information to help your audience's eyes focus on what's important.
- Create forms that match the step instructions
- The instructions help prepare the step owner of what needs to be accomplished and the form serves as a verification of should be complete.
Allow ad-hoc steps
- There are unforeseen needs and nuances to any process and we can help account for those by giving users the ability to add a step in the process on an as-needed, nonpermanent basis.
- EXAMPLE: Anything over $10k needs a second approver. Add a step and assign it to the approver.
- Make a team the owner of your flow
- Once your flow is ready to be used, change the owner from yourself to a team (create one if needed). A team owning a flow creates shared responsibility and removes you as the bottleneck.
- Rename the buttons on the step
- The button on a step defaults to "Complete" and "Cannot Complete," but these can be changed to something more descriptive of the action the user will take. Example: Complete could be "Fill out form" or Cannot Complete could be "Add approver"
- The flow needs to be added to a category, made LIVE and PUBLIC for others to use
- Adding it to a category will place your flow into one of the groups on the Create Ask Page
- Making it live will take it out of draft mode and ready for asks
- Making it public will make it accessible from the Create Ask Page
At Pipeline it is a best practice to not have an individual own a flow, transfer the ownership to a team quickly and easily! Roadblocks can occur when there is only one person to make updates to a flow or answer any questions pertaining to it.
Make a team the owner of your flow
- Once your flow is ready to be used, change the owner from yourself to a team. A team owning a flow creates shared responsibility and removes you as the bottleneck
- Recommended Creating a team that contributes to the process and needs to be aware of the updates
- Example: The HR team owns the flow responsible for submitting timesheets
- Not Recommended Being the sole owner of the flow, where only you can see analytics and make changes. If only you own the flow, any Asks that need to be fixed, deleted, reopened, etc. you only have permissions. If you are out of town or in a meeting there is no one else to get in contact with to help.
When a team of people own a flow there is more opportunity to make edits, respond to questions about the flow, and check on the progress of Asks that are created.
Ultimately, you can transfer flow owners for however you see fit, another example for ownership transfer would be if the process is handed to a different person in the team to oversee.
When it's time to rollout your flow to your team, vendors, or customers, here's an email template that you can use:
Hello (Individual or Team Name),
I’ve been working with the Pipeline team to automate and streamline our [XXXXXXX] process. It’s now ready for you to use! Here’s how to get started:
🚩 How to log in
You can log into Pipeline by clicking this link: https://[company].pipelineapp.io/
Just use your Google ID or Office 365 ID to log in.
After you log in, there will be a brief 2mins video to introduce you to Pipeline. You can either watch this or skip to the end, if you wish.
🚩 How to use the digital [XXXXXX] process
Simply click on the green Asks icon in the left nav, then (+) Create Ask. You can find the [XXXXXX] process under [CATEGORY].
Or, you can click on this direct link: https://[company].pipelineapp.io/app/workflow/XXXXXXX/create-ask/
Pipelineapp.io turns our company forms, to-do's, and checklists into a series of automated, simple, easy-to-follow steps for our team, vendors, and even customers.
If you need help with the app, you can email the Pipeline 24/7 online helpdesk anytime at, firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with their live agents in the app.