Detailed example of how to configuring a workflow [Part 1: Stages, groups and route]
Here we shall walk you through an entire example for setting up your own workflow system. This workflow is tracking the VAT compliance process, there is likely already a VAT workflow template in your system which you could tweak but it makes for a good example and demonstrates what to do well.
Have a look at the picture here, this is often what Accountants will produce when visualising their workflows. As the Glide superuser your job is to get the system configured to match up to this and this tutorial shall show you how. A key part of our philosophy at Glide is that the system is highly configurable and shall adapt to how you already work, you should not need to change to fit the system, unless of course you happen to be re-thinking your processes anyway which often firms are.
There are 5 articles in this series, with each one we add a bit more detail to the picture and show you how to add this into Glide.
Step 1 -> Create a new trigger date workflow system
You can read about the 3 different types of workflow system here, VAT is without doubt one to setup as a trigger workflow system. This will allow jobs to create automatically on the date that is relevant to each client. To set up a new trigger date workflow system follow these steps:
- Firstly note you need to be a superuser.
- Click on the Config menu
- Click on Edit workflow systems
- Scroll to the bottom and click on Create new workflow system (trigger date)
This will create a new workflow system in your Glide system, it will be in the list above you and called NewSys (trigger).
Step 2 -> Rename your new system and create the trigger field
- Click on the pencil icon alongside your NewSys (trigger) to enter the workflow editor, you will land on the summary tab.
- Click on the pencil icon at the bottom of this page to open up the full options. Change the name, description and menu name, I'll refer to the system as VAT Tutorial from now on so you could call it this. These appear in various places. There are other settings here but we do not need to worry about them right now. Click save.
- Whilst we're renaming things head to the sub-systems tab, click on the pencil icon alongside the sub-system and rename this too. The VAT Tutorial only requires one sub-system and so you can just give it the same name, where workflow systems have multiple sub-systems the naming becomes useful.
- Next we'll create the trigger field. I suggest doing this now because the (optional) example job in step 3 will make more sense. You could however leave this until later on. Click on workflow elements and you shall see in the custom client fields area (at the top of the screen) the system has already created a trigger date field for you. Click on the pencil icon to edit it and rename it to Next Quarterly VAT date. Change the frequency type to months and the frequency amount to 3 (i.e. quarterly). The creation value does not need to be changed for our example, it controls the number of days before (-'ve number) or after (+'ve number) the trigger date when the job shall create. You can also ignore the order for now. Click save. Incidentally, whilst we are here, the custom client fields allow you to create client fields that will appear on this tab of the client card (i.e. the VAT Tutorial) tab.
Step 3 (Optional) -> You might want to create a job so you can see progress as you configure
- Open a new browser tab, perhaps right click and duplicate the current tab (will avoid the need to type the web address again)
- Navigate to a client card. If you have not yet created one do so now, you can read how to here.
- You'll see your newly named system (in my case VAT Tutorial) down the left of the screen in green (new systems default to being active on all clients, we can change that later). Click on the green VAT Tutorial tab.
- You should now see the trigger field that you renamed to Next Quarterly VAT Date. We recommend always calling the field 'Next [something]' because the trigger fields hold the date of the next job to be created. So for example when your 31 May VAT job creates the trigger field will be rolled forward to 31 August. Click on the pencil icon and enter a date e.g. 31 May 20xx, be sure to use the date picker, i.e. click on the calendar icon and click on your chosen date. If you need to drill out to months, years or even decades you can click on the wording at the top of the date picker. We do not recommend typing into the date pickers as it is unreliable. Click save. We need the job now so click on the blue Create now button to create a job. Head back to your other window to continue with the configuration.
Step 4 -> Create your stages
- Click on workflow elements and scroll down until you get to job stages
- The system will have made two stages for you so we can adjust these for our first two stages. Click on the pencil icon alongside Stage1 to edit this stage. Here we shall create the 1st stage from the diagram which was called Request info.
- The milestone achieved describes what has happened when you move away from this stage so enter Info requested.
- The stage field is a description of the job state whilst we are on this stage so here enter To request info. In a simple example such as this one is the verb and one is the action that takes place, often they are very similar.
- Leave the group as In progress for now, we'll talk about these in the step 5. You can also ignore the visibility and target settings. As this is our 1st stage the order of 0 is also fine. Click save.
- Optionally at this point you could refresh your other screen (the one with the test job). The job will have been left on stage1 and so you'll see the milestone achieved text on the left has changed as has the description of the current stage on the right hand side.
- Next we can click on the pencil icon alongside Stage2 to edit this stage. Stage 2 on our diagram was called 'Info in'. Enter the following options:
- For milestone achieved enter Info chased/received. Our diagram noted the possible need to 'chase' the client for information which we shall do in a later step by having more than one progress button on this stage. As each stage has only one milestone text it needs to describe all progress buttons that exist on a stage.
- For stage enter Awaiting info.
- Change the group from Completed to In progress. In the mini 2 stage workflow Glide created automatically this stage was the end, in our example it is not so we need to avoid the Completed group (step 5 explains in more detail).
- Set the order to 10. It just needs to be bigger than the order used for our 1st stage which was 0. You could go for 1, 10, 100... it doesn't matter. If you end up with very big order values just keep an eye on the 'Min and max stages to make visible' setting on the summary tab, this allows you to filter out early/latter stages from certain widgets and reports, ensure the 'max' setting is big enough that you don't accidentally hide some of your stages.
- Click on the New: Stage button to create the other 6 stages that are visible on the diagram. As these are new stages the only additional step is to set the sub-system. You only have 1 sub-system so this should be easy. All of these stages will be in the In progress group. We've recommended some settings below:
- Finally create one more stage. Call this stage Completed (both milestone and stage text boxes). Allocate this stage to the Completed group. This stage will simply hold our jobs once they are completed. We'll see in the step X that the Completed group has a special setting that indicates that when jobs reach any stage allocated to this group, the job should be deemed complete, which is very relevant from a dashboard and reporting perspective.
|Started||Ready to start||20|
|To client||To send to client||50|
|Approved||Awaiting approval|| 60
|Submitted||Submit to HMRC|| 70
Step 5 -> Create a route
So you have your stages but before you can complete a job in Glide you need to have at least one route (you can have multiple versions, we'll create some others later on). When the workflow system was created it automatically created the two stages (one real stage and the completion stage) as we have seen, it also created a route to get from job creation to stage1 and then from stage1 to stage2, at which point the route reaches completion. We shall expand upon this route to incorporate our new stages.
- Click on the workflow routes tab.
- You'll see that one route exists already called Standard.
- At the top of the route there are tables showing any stages, deadlines and data fields that exist on the route. We'll look at these later, for now scroll down until you see workflow steps. Steps take a job from one stage to another and/or trigger workflow actions. Steps consist of automated steps run by the system (indicated on this screen by a yellow bar) and the blue progress buttons that you will click on your job card to progress jobs (indicated here by a blue bar).
- Scroll down a little further to the 1st step. This will be a yellow bar which is run automatically by the system when the job is created. You'll see it goes to the 1st stage which will be called To request info. There is no need to do anything here, later on in this series of examples we shall add some workflow actions to this step.
- Below the first step you'll see a blue rectangle titled To request info. This blue rectangle is collecting together all progress buttons that go from the To request info stage. Progress buttons are steps that go from one stage to another, they appear on the job card as a blue progress button and are triggered by a user pushing the button. Click on the pencil icon alongside this progress button to edit it. The from and to stages will be correct but we need to give the button an appropriate name. Enter a progress button name such as Info requested, this is the text that users will see in the progress button. It should precisely describe the action they have just undertaken. From this stage we shall just need one button and so it is often labelled exactly the same as the stage milestone, where you have multiple progress buttons from one stage then the ability to name them becomes very useful. The description is what users will see appear when they hover over the button, this can be 240 characters long and allows you to give more guidance to the user, if this is not needed then just copy the same text from the name field.
- Now create new steps to include our new stages in the route. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Create a new step (the 9 available refers to the number of stages you can choose from). This second progress button is gong to take our jobs from the Awaiting info stage to the Ready to start stage and it will be clicked by users when the information is received, therefore enter the following details.
- Progress button name Info received
- Description Info received from the client
- From stage Awaiting info
- To stage Ready to start
- There is no need to change the visibility settings for now.
- You now need more steps to get you from the Ready to start stage through to the Completed stage. We have suggested settings below and you'll notice that where our diagram has referred to Chase client we have a second button on those stages that goes to the very same stage. This allows users to record when they have chased the client which creates a useful audit trail should you ever need to refer to this information, in addition these chase buttons can trigger workflow actions such as setting target dates and e-mailing the client. The remaining buttons to set up are:-
Name/description From stage To stage Info chased Awaiting info Awaiting info Job started Ready to start In progress Job completed In progress To review Job reviewed To review To send to client Sent to client To send to client Awaiting approval Approved by client Awaiting approval Submit to HMRC Not approved - changes needed Awaiting approval In progress Submitted to HMRC Submit to HMRC Completed
- You can now head back to your test job and walk through your stages. Why not also add the progress monitor widget to your dashboard and follow your job through the stages. To add a progress monitor widget to your dashboard follow these steps:
- Click on the Glide icon in the top left corner of the screen to get to your main dashboard
- Click on the + icon in the menu bar (3 to the right of the Glide icon on the menu bar)
- Click on the dropdown menu in the pop up and scroll down to find your system (VAT Tutorial) and click on the widget Progress monitor (by stage) - [Table]. The widget will appear in the top left corner of your dashboard.
- If you have not yet completed your job you shall see a 1 (or a higher number if you have created more jobs) alongside the stage the job is currently on. As you progress the job through each stage come back to your dashboard and you will see the job moving down the widget. (Note, if your dashboard is on a separate tab you may need to refresh the screen to see the change, though it does automatically refresh every few minutes)
Step 6 (Optional) -> Configure your groups
Currently all of your stages except the Completed stage are in a single group called In progress. You can create more groups and allocate your stages to different groups. For this example workflow you may find it unnecessary; however, where you have quite a few stages (e.g. 20-30) you may it very useful. The main benefit is that is allows some users to look at 'stage level' (detailed) widgets and reports such as the progress monitor we added above, whilst other users can focus on the 'big picture' by looking instead at a concise list of groups.
To create a new group and then allocate stages to it follow these steps:
- In the workflow editor click on the Job stage groups tab.
- Click on create new group and name your new group.
- The order value dictates the order in which the groups appear. Once you have added some groups ensure the orders are correct, your completed group should come last, which means it needs the biggest order value.
- Leave End zone group as No. Any group set to yes will serve to mark jobs that arrive in it as complete. In the vast majority of workflows you only need 1 x end zone group and in this example we already have one.
- Back on the workflow elements tab you can edit stages by clicking on the pencil icon to the right of the stage. You can then allocate the stage to a different group. Job cards order the stages first into groups and then by the stage order and so be careful not to contradict the stages order values you set earlier at this point. If you glance at the job card as you make changes you'll see the order the stages are in. The order the stages are presented in on the job card does not effect how the job progresses however, this is totally controlled by your progress buttons.
We shall be adding a few more articles in this VAT Tutorial example workflow system so that we can explain more common workflow configuration tasks. Once we do we shall link to them here.