Workflow Best Practices

I often get asked to help clients untangle their workflows. It could be to support a revamped sales process, or it could be because something small changed and suddenly things don’t work so well anymore.

It can be very scary, staring at list of a hundred workflows and not knowing where to start. Even if you created the workflows, its hard to keep on track of them all.

If you are just starting out with a new implementation, or you want to get your house in order, here are some steps to follow. (Note I will use HubSpot terminology, but the process applies to any CRM platform)

1. Document your sales process

  • The steps your team must follow.
  • The Deal Pipeline and Deal Stages.
  • The specific Contact, Deal and Company properties that are updated along the way.
2. Write up a data blueprint
  • List all the Contact, Deal and Company properties are you using.
  • What is the property type e.g. drop-down menu or free text?
  • Are your pre-defined values consistent?
  • Which values are populated by integrations?
  • Check your internal values if you are using an API.

TIP: Any field you use for reporting or in workflows should have pre-defined values as opposed to free text.

3. Document your lead nurture process

  • Lead sources
  • Triggers and enrollment criteria
  • Internal notifications
  • Internal tasks
  • Properties and values that change
  • Client emails
  • Goals
4. Map it all out in flow diagrams
  • This step is important because you need to be able to walk your teams through the whole end-to-end process.
  • Most people are visual, so use colours and shapes to distinguish between actions/teams/source.
  • Don’t expect to get all the nitty-gritty details in the diagram, but it probably will cover several pages.

5. Audit your workflows

In HubSpot you can export a list of your workflows to Excel.

  • Write notes on the purpose of each workflow.
  • Note enrollment criteria, re-enrollment, goals etc.
  • Add a separate column for each property that is impacted in the workflow and make notes e.g. if your workflow sets the Lead Status field, add a column for Lead Status and note the value.
  • Review each workflow for things that might be outdated: fields, emails, users, other workflows that might no longer exist.
  • Look at the history of the workflow and check it is functioning as you expect.
  • Filter for errors.
  • Review your naming convention. (Keep an eye out for my next post all about naming conventions).
  • File workflow into folders

6. Compare your workflows to your flow diagrams and sales process

  • This is where you will be glad you made a column for each property!
  • Be methodical. Tick off each workflow as you go along.

7. Make your changes
I could write pages on this step. I probably will, so keep a look out.

  • Don’t change live workflows. At least not yet.
  • Don’t delete workflows. In fact, NEVER delete workflows (except your tests) but rather archive them.
  • Create your new desired workflow as a test
  • Write out a detailed test plan. Trust me, this is worth spending time on.
  • Consider very carefully how you will transition from old to new. It might require deactivating a workflow and activating your new one, or it might be better to run old and new in parallel. Or you might need to tweak an existing workflow.
8. Get someone to check your work

It is worth getting an expert to review your work. There might be simplifications, or ramifications, you might not have spotted. If your documentation is solid and you have a decent test plan, this won’t take long.

9. Keep an eye on things
Set up some dashboards for health checks. Insert tasks into workflows at key stages. Enlist the help of your sales team to check the history of key fields. But don’t go live at 4pm on a Friday.

10. Review and finalize your documentation
When the dust has settled, wrap up everything in a neat bow and save to a shared file. Keep your flow diagrams up where people can see them. Laminate cheat sheets for sales process and naming conventions. Your CRM is only as good as your team’s commitment to keeping data clean, so try and make it easy for them.

These steps will help you understand all the inter-related parts of this ecosystem, so you can keep on evolving your CRM to keep pace with your needs.

Perhaps you need some help with HubSpot workflows? Have a look at my Getting Wild With Workflows service bundle. 

Or, if you have another technical or custom HubSpot request, send me a brief and I'll get back to you.

Posted by Josie Hill on Jul 6, 2020 5:15:49 PM
Josie Hill

Josie Hill

Josie has more than 20 years of marketing experience, from running paid search campaigns to doing A/B testing. She worked with big brands all over the world. Josie's background in life coaching and counselling gives her a deep insight into human needs and emotions. She loves language: "I devour the written word. You are what you eat."
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