As you learned last week, Smart Tasks have several new features that make it even more useful as you automate your routine processes. This week, we are taking a step back and a closer look at planning a Smart Task template. You’ll use the process introduced last week, map it out and learn more about the details to consider as you plan your Smart Task template.
Planning the Template
As mentioned last week, I’m going to use the following as a business case/example of how you might apply Smart Tasks to your business:
When a prospect purchases a product/service, you do the following:
Create a new contact (if one does not exist)
Update the Contact ID/Status field from “Prospect” to “Customer”
Create an Opportunity with associated Products/Services
1 day later, you E-mail the customer a Thank you/Welcome kit
Schedule a follow-up call for one week following the creation of the Opportunity
Before creating the task in Sage ACT!, you may want to map it out using Microsoft Word, Excel, Visio, or other process mapping tool such as gliffy (http://www.gliffy.com), or xmind (http://www.xmind.net/). Mapping the process will help you visualize, standardize, and communicate the process. It also serves as a useful tool for identifying how you will create the process in Sage ACT!. For example, the previously mentioned process might look like this when fully mapped out:
After mapping out your process, you may begin planning the Smart Task template that will put this process into action. Consider the following:
Will the template be accessible to all users in the database (Public), or only you (Private)?
In the above example, yes. It should be available to all Sage ACT! users.
Will it be based on a Contact or Opportunity? This is important because it impacts automatic run criteria, and fields available for update.
This is a critical decision point. If you choose to trigger the task based on field criteria, the fields available for your criteria will depend on this choice. Similarly, if you are going to use a “Field Update” step, the choice of fields you may update depends on this choice. For example, if you create this task for Contacts, your trigger criteria is limited to Contact fields, and any “Update Field” steps will only be able to update Contact fields.
For the above example, you may want to run the task against Opportunities that are “Closed-Won”, so selecting Opportunity is appropriate.
How will it be triggered?
Manually - users will have to look up Contacts or Opportunities, and then manually run the task. If the process is routine, but not something that you foresee running with high frequency, this may be appropriate. This enables you to standardize process without having to recall specific steps when the need arises.
Triggered Automatically based on Schedule - the task will execute daily, weekly, monthly or other scheduled basis if certain field criteria is met. For example, you may want Sage ACT! to run a query weekly, checking for any Opportunities that have been Opened within the past 7 days and kick off a series of steps. User intervention is not required, and it is possible for activities to show up on a user’s calendar if he/she has opened an opportunity within the past 7 days.
Triggered Automatically based on Field Data – the task will execute immediately if certain field criteria is met. For example, you may want Sage ACT! to kick off a series of steps immediately if a new opportunity is opened. User intervention is not required, and it is possible for activities to show up on a user’s calendar if he/she has just created an open opportunity. This type of trigger is not retro-active when it is run automatically. Only new opportunities with a status of “Open” would trigger the task steps. However, if a user ran the task Manually against all records, then past opportunities with a status of “Open” would trigger the task.
For the above example, you may want to trigger the template based on the Opportunity being Closed-Won within the last day.
Run only once for any record
The "Run Only Once" option prevents a Smart Task from being run against the same record multiple times by the same user. Other users can still run the Smart Task against the same record unless the Smart Task access is set to Private.
For the above example, selecting this option is a good idea.
After you have determined the Task Template properties, you can begin to consider the types of steps to automate. In Sage ACT!, you can create steps that schedule activities, send email via Microsoft Outlook, or Sage E-marketing for ACT! (if you are a subscriber), or update a field. Reviewing the process above, you are likely to manually create the Contact record if it does not exist, and also update the ID/Status field. However, after the Opportunity is created, you can have the remaining steps triggered by your Smart Task Template and automate the sending of the Welcome Kit email, and creation of the Phone Call activity, placing it on the user’s calendar 7 days from the date of closing the Opportunity.
As you can see, creating Smart Tasks can be easier if you take time to define, and map out your process. Not only does it help you document your best practices, but it enables you to communicate them with other team members, outside consultants, or others that may assist you in your business. Next week, I’ll show you exactly how to create the template in Sage ACT!. In the meantime, pick one or two of your routine processes and start mapping them out!