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Top 5 Workflow Management Options for Google Apps

Every business process in your organization has a workflow, and each workflow is managed in a different way. Some are carefully planned, while others you may be using unconsciously. Here is a full picture of the workflow management options you have within Google Apps.

Workflow Management Evolution

Option 1: Gmail + Sheets

Gmail is ubiquitous for communication and collaboration. However, most of us also use Gmail to trigger workflows. For example, a travel expense approval email is sent to a manager with a templatized spreadsheet attached. The manager approves it and forwards it to the finance team for processing.

Using Gmail is the fastest way to get workflows done, especially in small teams. However, as your organization grows, and as workflows expand, things get more complicated.

Option 2: Forms + Sheets

In the first option, data goes from one person to another, but doesn’t require any special validation. Google Forms let you validate and control the information coming in with special fields. They also make sure the information is neatly categorized in a Google Sheet for easier record keeping.

A sales enquiry is a good example. Using a hosted Google Form, a company can collect specific details on a potential customer before contacting them. Enquiries automatically show up on the Sheet so that the team knows which ones they’ve handled already.

While this solves some of the chaos, it can also reveal more. The data is static; it sits on the form until someone acts on it. If you have multiple people involved in the process, your editable sheet might get altered and changed unknowingly. You also can’t show selective data to certain people in a workflow, not to mention audit trails and escalations.

Option 3: Apps Script

Up to this point, every step in the workflow has been manually done by someone. Google Apps Scripts allow you to insert a small bit of code to create an automated one-step workflow.

For example, a company might add a Script to automatically send a thank-you email after the Form is submitted. Or they could send commercial and residential requests to different departments.

Apps Scripts are often your first step towards automation, but they have their limitations. First, you need to have a basic level of coding knowledge. Second, Apps Scripts are easy to set up when you are dealing with one step at a time, but get very complicated if you are dealing with a multiple-step workflow. Third, all of your communication and clarifications happen outside of the workflow, likely in Gmail.

Option 4: Off-the-shelf Workflow Software

When you are ready to build a multi-step workflow, start with a solid workflow software built for Google Apps. Platforms like KiSSFLOW not only let you create as many workflows as you need, but they also come with additional features like enhanced forms, the ability to create parallel and other advanced workflows, permissions and visibility conditions, and reports to analyze the workflow.

For example, the details from the online form can be sent first to the data mining team who gather additional information on the customer who then forward it to a sales rep who has a three-step follow-up plan.

Workflow software can reduce the chaos in a process to the level that you hardly ever need to follow up on something. Good software will let you edit your workflow and form without needing to contact a software engineer.

Option 5: Custom Software

Some workflows are so specialized to the way an organization functions that an open platform like KiSSFLOW just isn’t enough.

For example, let’s say a landscape design firm wants to automatically include high-resolution satellite images of the property based on the address entered on the customer enquiry form. This level of specialization requires something more than most off-the-shelf workflow software can offer. In this case, the company would need to either find or commission industry-specific software to help meet their needs.

Think through all the workflows in your organization. Where do you see the chaos? Does your workflow need to move to a higher level of sophistication? Consider your options and discover what the next step is for your organization.

The post Top 5 Workflow Management Options for Google Apps appeared first on KiSSFLOW.

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More Stories By Suresh Sambandam

After an initial entrepreneurial stint for three years at the age of 19, Suresh Sambandam went on to work at Hewlett-Packard. Later, Suresh joined Selectica and rose to senior position, as Director of e-Insurance product division in a short-span. The e-Insurance division and its products were later acquired by Accenture. Suresh is a technocrat specializing in product engineering with expertise in software architecture for complex enterprise applications, inference engines, configuration engines, rule-based computing and enterprise middleware. He has applied for multiple patents. Suresh is passionate about entrepreneurship, technology startups and spends a significant amount of personal time in the start-up ecosystem in Chennai. Suresh is a member of the National Council for Emerging Companies Forum and also a core committee member of Product Forum at NASSCOM. He also does mentoring for budding entrepreneurs at IIT Bombay, E-Cell. Suresh is a regular speaker at various industry forums & academic institutions.

Suresh is the Founder & CEO of OrangeScape. OrangeScape is a platform (PaaS - Platform as a Service) to develop process oriented business applications that can be deployed "On Cloud" and "On Premise". OrangeScape supports platforms like Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure as cloud deployment option and Microsoft .Net and J2EE as on-premise deployment options. OrangeScape has 50+ customers including global brands like Unilever, Citibank, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Fullterton, etc. OrangeScape in the only Indian company has been featured in the PaaS research reports of Forrester and Gartner. OrangeScape has been featured as 'India's Rising Tech Stars' by Forbes(US) magazine. OrangeScape was showcased as one of the 3 emerging product companies in India by Nasscom and was also awarded 'Top IT Innovations' for 2 consecutive years.