Over the past few weeks, we’ve been sharing our love of 17Hats with you by giving you an insider look in how to set up Emails, Projects & Leads in Part 1 and then Quotes, Contracts, Invoices & Email Templates in Part 2. Now it’s time to put it all together and get to our favorite part of the entire 17Hats system: Workflows & Lifecycles. This stuff can revolutionize the time you spend tracking, responding and sending tasks, documents & emails out to clients, so brace yourselves – this is going to rock your world!
You’ve got a system for how you do things in your business – an order in which you do certain things, send certain documents or emails. This is your Workflow. Your Workflow helps you keep track of getting everything out to your clients and accomplishing your projects in a timely manner and order. The Workflows in 17Hats will not only allow you to completely customize multiple Workflows but will also help you automate your process so that you don’t forget a single piece and can take back the time you spent sending it all out yourself. So, let’s look at all the amazing things you can do when you create your Workflows.
To create a new Workflow, you can click on the Workflow section in the left of your dashboard and then the + button. You can have multiple Workflows, so don’t feel like you need a “one-size-fits-all” solution. When creating your Workflow, you can choose which calendar it is automatically associated with. We find it’s best to leave this as a default calendar and not your regular work calendar as this will be where many of your notes show up. You can set specific items within your Workflow to show up in different calendars – this is just how you set the default calendar for this specific Workflow.
Each Workflow can be separated into phases – these are just groups to help you with organization. For example, for a wedding photography Workflow you could have a Booking Phase, Planning Phase, Editing Phase, Album Design Phase & Delivery Phase. Each phase can have however many Workflow items inside it that you want or as few as you want. You don’t need to use phases if you don’t want to – they are just for your organization.
There are three types of Workflow items: To-Do Items, Pause Items & Action Items. To create your Workflow, you will use a combination of these beautiful things, so let’s look at each of them and all of their options.
To-Do Items are simple, checkbox items on your to-do list that YOU will be taking care of that can’t be automated. For example, you could have a checkbox for the day you mail out a client’s package or when you hold a consultation. These items will show up on your dashboard and inside your project as a checkbox that you can just click to mark off whenever it has taken place.
When setting up any item in your Workflow, you can set specific Due Dates for that item. This is a beautiful thing!! These due dates are set to correspond with one of the following of your choice: after activating the workflow, Before the project date, on the project date, or after the project date. So, if you set a To-Do Item to be 7 days before the project date and the project date is March 14th, that To-Do Item will be due March 7th. This is so awesome, because it’s pulling in the dates that you set up in your Project sections and will update to the right date for each Project you attach the Workflow to!
You can also set the item to automatically do something upon your completion of the item (checking the box) by using the When Done feature. Upon completion of each To-Do Item, you can choose to:
To make things even better, you can decide to have the action automatically happen upon your completion of the To-Do Item or you can have it pending your review upon completion – which basically means 17Hats will send you a reminder to take a quick look over the action you’ve attached and then with the click of a button, it’ll be completed. Want to have an email sent automatically once you deliver a package to the post office so your client can know it’s on its way? Done as soon as you check the box!
Pause Items allow you to pause a Workflow’s timeline until you check the box to unpause. This is perfect when you are waiting for a client to respond to a quote, schedule a consultation or meeting, etc. For wedding photography, this works well when waiting for a client to schedule an engagement session since oftentimes it’s not done right after booking. Just as with To-Do Items, you can use the When Done feature to automate further.
The third type of Workflow item is an Action Item – this is where Workflows really pack a punch! Similar to how you could have things automatically sent or created once you completed a Pause or To-Do Item, Action Items will automatically (or upon review) send or create different things for you. This is where all those templates you created will really come in handy: for each Action Item, you can choose to Send an Email, Send a Questionnaire, Send a Quote, Send a Contract or Send an Invoice with your choice of templates to choose from. This is an amazing tool for invoicing, but is also great for sending emails with instructions for various stages of a project, questionnaires and any other important details that are pretty standard across the board.
Here is an example of one of the phases in a wedding photography Workflow. Your options are basically limitless with these Workflows and how much – or how little – you choose to use them is entirely up to you. It takes a little time to set up and perfect, but once you’ve got a system down that works for you, you will be amazed at how organized, on-top of things and less-stressed you feel as you get back some of the time you lost trying to keep up with your business workflows on your own.
Here’s a look at the current Workflow templates set up for a wedding photographer. You can have as many Workflow templates as you want, so feel free to go nuts! You can set multiple Workflows for one client, so if you were doing a couple different projects for them, you can keep track of them all without having to create an entirely new Workflow customized for them – or you can make a custom one. Find what works for your business and go for it!
Now that you’ve got your Workflows figured out, it’s time to wrap up this blog post series with one of our favorite simple features in 17Hats: Lifecycles.
We are all about simple, visual organization, and 17Hats has done a fantastic job at giving you a quick look at where you are at with each of your Projects & Workflows thanks to Lifecycles. Once a Lifecycle is activated for a Client/Project, a progress bar will show up in various views of that Project to show you where you are with an “at-a-glance” style meter. Some pages, the meter is very small to show you a quick look at your progress, but when you are on the actual Client/Project page, you will see a bar just like above which details the progress a little more for you.
To create a Lifecycle, head on over to My Account –> Account Settings and you’ll see Lifecycles show up on the left hand side. Just like with Workflows, you can have multiple Lifecycles, however only one Lifecycle can be applied to a Project at a time.
Creating a Lifecycle Stage is fairly simple and each stage can be rearranged at any time. After giving your new stage a name, you can choose when that stage should start, and your options are:
Remember when we mentioned that you could change the calendar a Project or Workflow item shows up under? Well, you can also do that automatically within Lifecycles! For example, a photography business may have one calendar for Prospectives and another for Clients – once a contract has been signed, you can set the Lifecycle to automatically change that Project’s calendar from Prospectives to Clients without you having to lift a finger. Fantastic, right?!
Here is a look at a completed Lifecycle for a wedding photography company. All the stages can be rearranged, edited or deleted at any time. To add a Lifecycle to a Project, go to the Project and on the far right, click Edit –> Add Lifecycle.
Once you have your Lifecycles created and in place with your Projects, you will receive reminders on your Dashboard when a Lifecycle phase has been stagnant for a certain period of time. You can easily dismiss these to send you a reminder in another period of time (1 day, 1 week or 1 month) to make sure you stay on top of Projects that haven’t moved on from a certain phase.
And there you have it! 17Hats is the perfect all-in-one business tracking & organizing tool – and it’s great for all types of businesses. We have taken you from start to finish with 17Hats and we know this tool can transform your daily business. Now, go on – go sign up for a 14 day free trial over at 17Hats and take it for a spin with your own business processes and systems!
Not wanting to invest the time it takes to set up 17Hats for yourself? Worcus now offers basic setup of 17Hats and we would be happy to chat with you about setting up your revolutionary business system with 17Hats. Shoot us an email and we’ll be in touch!