Posted in Workflows

Analyzing frevvo Workflows With Google Data Studio

Through the years, we know that customers just want their data so they can use their preferred tools and methods to analyze it. As a result, our product strategy maximizes customers’ ability to push or export form and workflow submission data into other systems.

We provide a variety of connectors e.g. the SQL Database Connector, the Google Connector (Google Drive and Google Sheets), the File System Connector, the SharePoint Connector and others. While these connectors have varied capabilities , a common thread is that they can export your submission data into another system.

Continue reading “Analyzing frevvo Workflows With Google Data Studio”
Posted in Workflows

Introducing v8.0: Part 2. Redesigned Flow Step Properties

In Part 1, we described improvements to the Flow Designer to make it easier to understand routing for a workflow.

Flow Steps have lots of settings

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V7 properties (partial)

Another area that we’ve improved significantly in V8 based on customer feedback is the property settings for a flow step. The V7 and earlier properties panel (figure at left) had simply become too large and complex as we’ve added more and more features to frevvo workflows and customers were finding it a bit confusing and hard to use.

We’ve reorganized the properties and moved them into a new modal dialog accessed by clicking the desired flow step and then clicking the properties edit icon (the cog icon). Properties have been reorganized and the names changed to be more intuitive in some cases, but the requirements are generally unchanged for all properties.

Flow Step Properties Wizard

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The properties are organized on tabs (screenshot above) and nothing is saved to the editing flow instance until the dialog is submitted. Many properties also have explanatory text so it’s easier to understand what each property means.

If you Submit your changes with any invalid property setting, the dialog will not close and an error message will display. The wizard will automatically take you to the first Tab with an error. Tabs with errors and invalid properties will also display in red so there’s an immediate visual indication.

The wizard also guides the designer to prevent errors. A great example is Step Assignment (screenshot below). It was always possible to assign steps to a user, a role or an email address (no login required). If it’s assigned to a specific user, it does not make sense to also enter a role since it will always go that user. The wizard will grey out the irrelevant fields to prevent errors. The user and role fields also auto-complete with a list of valid users and roles.

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The Flow Step Properties Wizard has many more features and we’ll describe some of them in detail in subsequent articles. Suffice it to say that frevvo designers will find it much much easier to configure steps in their workflows using V8 compared to prior versions.

We’re excited about this release and think you’ll like the changes. Stay tuned for future articles and upcoming webinars on V8.0 – it will be released to frevvo Cloud this Fall. Exact date TBD and we’ll announce it here when firmed up.

 

Posted in Workflows

Introducing V8.0: Part 1. Flow Design Canvas

We’ve been hard at work on some big updates to the workflow designer and we’re excited to share some of what’s coming soon. The main goal of v8.0 is Phase 1 of simplifying flow design and improvements are based on extensive feedback from customers and our own Client Services team. We’ve also added a few oft-requested features that we’ll describe below and in future articles.

The improvements fall into multiple areas:

  • A redesigned Flow Design Canvas that makes the flow routing clearer.
  • Much easier configuration of flow step properties via a new Flow Step Properties Wizard.
  • At-a-glance view of properties for any flow step via a new Flow Step Navigator.
  • Vastly simplified routing – you can route to users, roles or an email address in a single unified Assignments UI that checks for and prevents errors.
  • Get a read-only view of any task that you completed while the workflow is waiting for downstream approval.
  • On-demand refresh of searchable fields for a particular form or workflow without requiring admin privileges.

We’ll preview these changes in this and future articles.

Flow Designer Canvas

flow-designer.pngThe canvas is redesigned to be more intuitive and familiar and to display the flow routing more clearly.

It now represents the flow in a flow chart like format with process flow clearly marked with arrows. The arrows are drawn automatically as the step is dropped on the canvas as shown in the figure.

As a designer adds a precondition to a step, the system automatically draws a precondition as a decision box (yellow diamond). The precondition is part of the step that immediately follows it. For example, it is not separately selectable. The designer can specify a user-friendly description of the precondition which is displayed in the decision box.

As before, when a step is selected, the relevant action icons become visible e.g. create a linked step, edit the form associated with a form step etc.

Linked steps display a double box indicating clearly that the step is a copy of a prior step in the flow.

When dragging and dropping either new steps from the palette or existing canvas steps as part of a move operation, the UI will provide clear feedback regarding the drop target. When hovering over a step, the cursor will be modified as usual with the up or down green arrow indicating if the drop will be either above or below. In addition to this, the step that is the drop target will show a flashing green “bulls eye” to indicate the exact place where the step is to be placed. This is intended to head off any confusion about exactly where the designer is dropping and to make it clear that they cannot drop between a step and its precondition diamond.

Stay tuned for future articles and upcoming webinars on V8.0 – it will be released to frevvo Cloud this Fall. Exact date TBD and we’ll announce it here when firmed up.

 

Posted in Digital Transformation

A Modern Framework for delivering Digital Transformation

It’s 2018. By now, your organization surely realizes that digital transformation is no joke and an absolute must for business innovation. The momentum is too great and companies unwilling to embrace it will find themselves at extreme risk of digital disruption and will quickly fall to irrelevance. Those that fully embrace digital transformation will find that it gives them a massive edge over their competitors regardless of industry.

Download-White-Paper

So, what should you as a business leader consider as your organization races towards its digital future?

Continue reading “A Modern Framework for delivering Digital Transformation”

Posted in Misc

The Nightmare before “Workflow”

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That’s the start of one of the best Halloween movies ever made … or was it a Christmas movie? We changed it a bit.

We’re hoping you have a ‘spooktacular’ Halloween with costumes, treats and games galore. This time around, try our Halloween Quiz (click the image below) and discover how ready you are for workflow automation this Halloween and throughout the next year.

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No matter your expertise level, frevvo has a bunch of great resources for all your forms and workflow needs. So, click the button to take the quiz and find your Halloween treat.

And, if you have some time on your hands this Halloween, you could always watch The Nightmare before Christmas.

Happy Halloween!

 

Posted in Usability, Workflows

Get people to actually use your shiny new workflows

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Hint: It’s all about Usability!

You’ve invested in workflow automation. Looks great but sometimes getting people to actually use it can itself be a Sisyphean task. People resist change and will quickly fall back to bad habits like emailing PDFs and Excel spreadsheets around to manage key information.

So, how do you onboard your users?

1. Involve them from the beginning

This is a pretty obvious one. The earlier you get stakeholders into the process the more likely they are to adopt it. People are naturally more invested in a solution that they’ve had a chance to impact. Soliciting feedback and actually implementing suggestions are critical elements.

When we work with customers on a new project, we go to great lengths to set this up. We spend time upfront to make sure we’re building something users want and make sure there are at least a couple of UAT-Change Request Implementation cycles. That way, the people who have to actually use the new system can affect it.

2. Usability, Usability, Usability!

if_seo_web-34_1046124.pngI can’t stress this enough. It does not matter how robust and awesome your system is. If it’s hard to use, it will not be adopted. If it looks good and is easy to use, people will forgive other shortcomings.

Usability (for end users) should probably be your #1 criterion in selecting a workflow automation system. Some tips:

  • Great Looks: Employees are also consumers. They use slick apps everyday and get used to a fantastic UX. If work apps have old-fashioned, clunky UIs they’ll never catch on.
  • Sensible Terminology: Make sure your buttons, labels, messages are familiar and helpful. For example, if the workflow will route to the CFO for secondary approval the button should say “Route to CFO” rather than the generic “Continue”.
  • Help Text: Some fields require further explanation. The Label is not always enough. Take the time to add help and it can make a huge difference. Tooltips and placeholders are other options.
  • Mobile friendly: It has to work naturally on all devices. Buttons might need to be slightly larger on mobile so they’re easier to click using your finger. Forms may need to be broken up into multiple pages to avoid overwhelming smaller screens.
  • Speed: Don’t underestimate the value of performance. People love systems where they don’t have to wait around.
  • Consistency: A big part of great UX is consistency. Buttons should be in the same place, labels should follow consistent conventions, the look & feel should not vary dramatically from one process to the next.

3. Training / Feedback

1492276951_seo_web_3-01.pngEnd user training should be part of every rollout. But, it’s just the first step. Once people have used the new system for a period of time, they’ll have feedback for you. It’s worth going back and actually talking to stakeholders – is this helping you? Are you doing less manual work? Do you genuinely have more time for things that matter? What can we improve?

4. Iterative improvement

Once people tell you what you can improve, it’s important to go back and actually address issues as quickly as possible. Nothing’s more frustrating than getting it 90% right only to see users abandon your system because you overlooked a couple of things.

5. Communicate success

Share meaningful success stories with everyone involved in the system. Recognizing people’s efforts (company meeting, spot awards) in bringing change to the organization will always be appreciated as long as you don’t overdo it and the recognition is for real measurable gains.

Ultimately, though, we’d advise you to focus hardest on Usability. If they find it hard to use the new workflows, the rest doesn’t matter.

 

Posted in Financial Process Automation, HR Process Automation

JPMorgan Software Does in Seconds What Took Lawyers 360,000 Hours

legal-1.jpgI came across this article yesterday and was amazed by the numbers. JP Morgan Chase uses software to perform a routine task in seconds instead of 360,000 hours. Imagine the ROI on this automation?

“The push to automate mundane tasks and create new tools for bankers and clients — a growing part of the firm’s $9.6 billion technology budget — is a core theme as the company hosts its annual investor day on Tuesday.”

Not everyone is as big as JP Morgan Chase. Automating your routine day-to-day tasks isn’t likely to save you that much but investing in technology, especially to automate routine tasks is an absolute must in today’s world. It’s amazing how much this waste actually costs you. Automation brings huge benefits and return on investment.

If your people are wasting their time on routine stuff like moving information from Point A to Point B, your company should be investing in automation. As we’ve said many times: is it better for your employees to focus on customers or chasing down an approval for that purchase order? Should teachers and faculty focus on students or on getting signatures for that conference travel authorization?

“People always talk about this stuff as displacement. I talk about it as freeing people to work on higher-value things, which is why it’s such a terrific opportunity for the firm.”

Like JP Morgan, which spends 9% of revenue on technology (double the industry average), you can’t sit around and wait to know what the endgame looks like. The environment is simply moving too fast.

Posted in business insights

Roadmap: Part 3 – Productivity Report

In earlier articles in this series, we took a peek at the Active Processes Report and the Submissions Reports in the upcoming Business Insights package. Today, we’ll take a look at the Productivity Report.

productivity-report
Workflow Durations (avg/max)

The goals are to analyze workflows, understand throughput and productivity of the team involved, and to find and eliminate bottlenecks.

This report initially displays a breakdown of the average and maximum durations of each workflow type for the previous 30 days in the Summary tab. This chart only shows workflows that completed within the time period (last 30 days) and does not include incomplete workflows. The user may change the time period (30, 60, 90, 120 days, 1 year) in order to examine different data sets. The chart is also organized initially left to right with flows with greatest average durations to the left and descending to the right. The chart can be ordered by max duration descending as well using the “order by” radio button.

The Details Tab displays the data in a tabular format. As described in Part 1, this table (and all tables in reports) have a Search field that acts as a filter. Anything typed in the Search field is checked against all the data in each row and only rows that have some data that matches are displayed.

Productivity for a specific workflow

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Time Stats

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Time Breakdown

Click any of the chart bar(s) for a particular workflow type to drill down into the statistics for that individual workflow.

You can view the information in two ways. Time Stats shows you the processing time average average and max for the various participants involved in that workflow. The chart makes it easy to see which participant (role or person) takes the most time.

Time Breakdown shows a histogram to identify bottlenecks. The processing times for participants involved in the flow type are “bucketed” into categories (< 1 day, 1-3 days, 3-5 days, 5-10 days, ≥ 10 days) and then the counts of workflow instances for each of those buckets is displayed. It’s easy to visualize bottlenecks and get an idea of which users are under/over utilized, etc. For example, the HR Manager in the above graph is almost always taking at least 5 days and in many cases more than 10 days to approve. That could be a bottleneck that needs to be eliminated.

As before, the Details tab displays the raw information in a tabular format and you can examine individual submissions.

Upcoming frevvo releases will continue to add functionality focused on improving the task list (related to reports but operational in nature), saving your own custom filters as a new report, creating your own report in the designer, using form data (current reports only work over operational data) to filter your reports and more. We’ll publish updates on this blog regularly.

 

Posted in business insights

Roadmap: Part 2 – Submissions Reports

In Part 1 of this series of articles, we took a peek at one of the reports (Active Processes) in the upcoming Business Insights package. In this article, we’ll look at submission-related reports. The goals are for customers to easily analyze workflows that have completed recently and figure out which ones ended with an error and what the error was.

Recent Submissions Report

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Recently completed workflows

This report displays information about all recently completed workflows (or forms). You can get a quick picture of completed activity and overall system usage.

The Summary Tab displays data for 7 days and all forms/workflows by default but you can change the time period and select a particular form or workflow to update the chart.

The Details Tab displays the data in a tabular format. As described in Part 1, this table (and all tables in reports) have a Search field that acts as a filter. Anything typed in the Search field is checked against all the data in each row and only rows that have some data that matches are displayed.

rs_summary_2
Completed forms/workflows for a particular day

You can also click on any of the bars in the chart to drill down into submission activity for that day.

The report will display a pie chart and table with submissions for that date broken down by form/workflow type. The pie chart shows the data broken down by percentage for the top 9 + an Other category. The table to the right represents the same data, but shows the actual counts including a break down for the Other category. As with all tables, you can narrow the results simply by typing in the Search field.

Submission Failures Report

sub-failures
Workflows with errors during submission.

The Submission Failures report displays information about workflow instances that had an error occur during submission. There are many possible causes of errors: workflow/form design bugs, misconfigurations, temporary runtime failures etc. This report can be used to determine if there have been recent errors and to investigate the exact causes.

The report initially shows all error data for 7 days and all forms/workflows but you can change the time period and select a particular form or workflow to update the chart.

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Details with exact error description

Clicking the Details button drills down into the error data. It displays a chart of errors by day in the Summary tab but you can also view a table with the details about each failed submission.

Each item contains the exact error description so administrators/designers can determine what is causing the error and take corrective action.

We’ll discuss the Productivity Report in the next article where you can analyze your workflows and find bottlenecks, see who’s taking the most time to complete things etc.

Upcoming frevvo releases will add functionality including the ability to save your own customized report, reporting over form data (current reports only work over operational data) and more. We’ll publish updates on this blog regularly.

Posted in business insights

Roadmap: Part 1 – Active Processes Report

active-processes
Which processes are active right now?

At frevvo, we’re hard at work on some of the most frequently requested features – Business Insights, Task/Submission search and others.

Customers have built many real-world business applications but it hasn’t been easy to see what’s going on operationally, find tasks & submissions etc.

In the first release, we’ll focus on business insights reports over operational data (metadata). The goals are for customers to easily answer questions like:

  • Which processes are active right now?
  • Who’s involved in these active processes?
  • Which processes have ended with some sort of operational error and what are those errors?
  • What processes have been completed recently?
  • Where are the bottlenecks?
  • Who is taking the most/least time to complete tasks?

active-table

We’ll describe several built-in reports over a series of articles. This Part 1 is about the Active Processes Report. You can use this to view what’s currently active in the tenant. Active workflows are those that have started but have not yet reached the final (SUBMITTED) state. Forms can also be active if they have been partially filled in and saved i.e. in the SAVED state.

The initial Summary tab shows all active forms & workflows in your tenant as a pie chart as well as a table (see Figure above). This table (and all tables in reports) have a Search field that acts as a filter. Anything typed in the Search field is checked against all the data in each row and only rows that have some data that matches are displayed.

There’s also a Details tab with a table that displays detailed data for all of the active workflows in the tenant. This is the detailed data that is summarized on the summary tab. For example, if a particular form/flow had a count of 3 on the summary tab, then there would be 3 rows for it in this detailed tab.

customer-registration

From the Summary tab, the user can drill down to individual workflows. The report changes to display data only about that selected workflow as shown in the Figure. At this level, the dashboard displays information about the people (or roles) that currently have assigned tasks for the selected flow. The pie chart displays the break down and the table to the right displays the summarized counts of assignments per user or role.

There are several other built-in reports that provide useful information and we’ll talk about them in future articles.

Upcoming frevvo releases will continue to evolve reports to add functionality including things like creating your own customized report and saving it, using form data (current reports only work over operational data) to filter your reports and more. We’ll publish updates on this blog regularly.