Do it as soon as (and solely as soon as) with workflow automation

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There’s an idea in productiveness philosophy that means you “solely deal with it as soon as” (OHIO) — the concept is that you simply instantly take care of no matter crosses your desk fairly than losing time by setting it apart and getting again to it later. When designing workflows for myself and my group, I wish to take this a step additional and arrange processes in such a manner that folks want solely do a easy process a single time. 

“Why would you do one thing greater than as soon as?” you would possibly ask. You could not consider it that manner, however, in lots of circumstances, on a regular basis work entails doing the identical factor a number of occasions. For instance, you mark a process as finished in your product administration software program, then ship an e mail to your colleague to allow them to understand it’s full. You enter content material into the CMS in your web site, then copy the identical content material to the system you employ in your cellular website. Not solely is this sort of factor inefficient, however each time you’re coming into or copying knowledge from one system to a different, you danger introducing errors. 

In my final article, I defined how I save new contacts’ info by coming into it right into a kind that then updates quite a lot of completely different programs. This time, I’ll stroll you thru a number of extra examples, explaining the automation instruments that allow them. 

Cross-posting from one web site to a different

At one time, we’d often cross-post content material from certainly one of our websites to a different every time the article can be of curiosity to each audiences. Somewhat than begin utterly from scratch, I designed a workflow the place editors would choose a sure class in WordPress (which wouldn’t be displayed on the location) to point {that a} piece needs to be printed on each websites. 

The annotated screenshot above, together with this shared Zap, offers you a way of how this labored. The set off setting the workflow in movement was the publication of any article on the primary website. The very first thing Zapier did, utilizing its built-in filter perform, is to see whether or not the requisite class was checked. If not, nothing extra would occur. 

If the Zap continued, it subsequent copied over the featured picture related to the article. This took a number of steps, partially as a result of we have been getting plenty of time-out errors on the second website. We solved this, for probably the most half, by getting the identify of the featured picture file, downloading the picture to our Google Drive if there wasn’t already a file with that identify within the folder, then importing that picture to the second WordPress website. 

We continued to have time-out issues, so I arrange a step whereby if the picture wasn’t uploaded efficiently to the second WordPress website, a default generic picture can be chosen as a substitute. This saved the method rolling alongside fairly than getting caught on an error. 

Lastly, the system would create a brand new publish on the second WordPress website, copying over the headline, physique copy and featured picture. The remainder of the photographs inside the article have been nonetheless hosted on the primary website, which we’d determined we have been OK with. The ensuing publish was set to Draft standing fairly than robotically printed as a result of we did should do a number of issues manually. 

The handbook half (and why)

First, you could discover the method doesn’t deal with the query of authorship. As a result of WordPress shops authors as ID numbers, and since our creator IDs differed from one website to a different, we couldn’t simply copy an ID over. At one level, we did a lookup in Google Sheets that matched ID numbers from one website to a different, however that ended up being tough to take care of so we went with deciding on the creator by hand.

Our classes and class IDs differ from one website to the opposite, too, which implies we categorized the articles after they’d been copied over to the second website. As well as, we went into the Yoast search engine marketing plug-in and designated the unique URL as canonical. This additionally gave us the chance to examine the article over to make sure all the things functioned as supposed earlier than publishing. 

Making kind submissions go additional 

The submission of a kind is a implausible time to set off different occasions. For our MarTech Intelligence Stories, we use a kind to assemble details about software program distributors within the classes we cowl. When somebody we’ve requested to fill a questionnaire hits submit, this triggers a variety of processes. 

  1. The corporate brand they’ve uploaded will get added to a Google Drive folder arrange for this goal.
  2. The solutions are copied right into a Google Doc, which serves as the start line for a vendor profile. Inner events obtain an e mail notification with a hyperlink to the draft.
  3. The submitter receives an e mail acknowledgment.
  4. The standing of the ClickUp process representing that vendor profile is robotically up to date to point that we’ve obtained the shape submission
  5. A remark is posted to the ClickUp process with a hyperlink to the draft doc. 
  6. The seller’s evaluation of business traits goes into my unstructured knowledge retailer device, Mem, so I can faucet it when writing the analytical a part of the report. 
  7. The submitter’s identify, firm and e mail deal with are added to my listing of contacts.

I’ll stroll you thru a number of of those processes so you may see the way it all occurs.

Regardless that we cowl plenty of completely different software program sorts in our MarTech Intelligence Stories, we use a single questionnaire to assemble information from distributors. That questionnaire makes use of conditional logic to make sure the fitting questions seem for the right class. Because of this after we make a change to a query that’s required for each vendor, we don’t want to alter it 12 occasions in 12 completely different varieties. We additionally use a hidden subject to hyperlink the shape to the duty for which it’s being submitted utilizing a process ID. 

Importing the corporate brand (number one above) makes use of a easy JotForm perform to name a webhook on the time of submission, sending the uploaded picture to the right Google Drive folder. 

Making a Google Doc draft from the shape enter (quantity 2) makes use of native JotForm performance to ship an e mail with kind knowledge when it’s submitted. One normal problem with these kind submissions is that despite the fact that the conditional logic prevents sure questions from showing to the particular person filling out the shape, these questions (and clean solutions) are output everytime you export the shape knowledge. And as we develop to cowl new classes, this subject grows bigger. 

We get round this by using the native e mail notification characteristic, which is ready to solely embody fields which are accomplished. The e-mail goes to a Zapier device known as “E mail Parser by Zapier” that parses the e-mail with all of the questions and solutions (however solely the related ones, as a result of the clean ones weren’t despatched over) and copies plain textual content right into a Google Doc.

It’s not formatted very properly, however it’s a very good head begin, placing the solutions into the device we are going to use to put in writing the profile. That very same Zap emails the group engaged on the report with a hyperlink to the Google Doc so we are able to get to work.

Automatically setting the standing of the ClickUp Activity (quantity 4) is one thing I’ve solely lately applied and I’m actually discovering it helpful. The shape submission triggers a webhook from Zapier that passes over the duty ID quantity from the hidden kind subject. That units off a POST to the ClickUp API that checks a field within the linked process to point that the shape has been submitted. 

I’m utilizing the API as a substitute of the native Zapier ClickUp integration as a result of the native connector requires me to designate an area, a folder and a listing for every Zap. Due to the best way our duties are organized in ClickUp, this implies I’d want a separate Zap (or another performance) for every report. With the API, I solely should specify the distinctive ClickUp process ID to work with that process.

For no matter cause, although, the API doesn’t permit me to alter process statuses. So I’ve a checkbox inside the process report that basically asks “is the shape submitted?” and that field is checked by way of the API when it’s. Then, I exploit native ClickUp automations to alter the duty standing to “Information Submitted” and put somewhat touch upon the report alerting the assignee. 

This course of doesn’t “know” concerning the different Zap that creates the Google Doc, nonetheless, so one other API name (quantity 5) is for connecting the duty and the draft. Every time a brand new Doc is created within the designated folder, Zapier parses the title of the doc and extracts the duty ID (which I’ve set as much as be the final a part of the title).

With that process ID, it makes use of the ClickUp API to POST a brand new remark to the duty offering the assignee with the Google Doc URL.

The way it seems in ClickUp

As I clarify this, I notice that I most likely ought to mix quantity 2 and quantity 5 right into a single Zap. See? We’re all studying collectively!

Is all this definitely worth the hassle?

As you may see, there’s plenty of element work concerned in organising these workflows and, like every other pc course of, it’s not very forgiving — embody an additional house or go away off a slash mark and that’s the entire thing scuppered. 

That mentioned, in the event you’re automating processes your group encounters again and again in the middle of their every day grind, it’s nicely definitely worth the hassle of the preliminary setup. We’re doing 12 MIRs this 12 months and every certainly one of them has someplace between ten and 22 profiles, so it’s price it to me to set this up as soon as and probably profit 286 occasions in 2022 alone. As soon as automated workflows like this are functioning easily, they get rid of plenty of mind-numbing repetitive work and allow you to give attention to extra inventive, strategic duties. 


About The Writer

Pamela Parker is Analysis Director at Third Door Media’s Content material Studio, the place she produces MarTech Intelligence Stories and different in-depth content material for digital entrepreneurs along with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Previous to taking over this position at TDM, she served as Content material Supervisor, Senior Editor and Govt Options Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital advertising, having reported and written on the topic since its starting. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has additionally labored on the enterprise aspect serving to unbiased publishers monetize their websites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a grasp’s diploma in journalism from Columbia College.

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