Probably the biggest complaint I run into for anyone who has tried working a Redtail Workflow into their practice is the due dates. How do I structure a timeline when steps in the process are outside my control? How do I know how far apart to space everything? What if I need to jump to the next step?
Workflows are best utilized by templates, but the template is entirely predicated on the timeline. Timelines are based on two things in Redtail: 1) the "Target Date" and 2) the "Due Date" for each step.
In this article, I'm going to detail how workflows used at HQ function, and why that works best for our team.
Building a workflow
A workflow is made of a list of Steps, which must be completed chronologically. Each step has a set of underlying tasks that can be completed individually and in any order; you cannot see the tasks in the next step until you complete all of the tasks in the current step.
Thus, step 1 of building a workflow should be brainstorming and listing out every single task involved - build a list of all of the smallest pieces of the puzzle. Step 2 then is grouping all of these smallest pieces into logical steps: which pieces can be (or usually are) completed all at once?
Step 3 is determining who the tasks are assigned to, so that you can start building the blocks within Redtail. You can assign by User, Team, Role OR a new feature called 'Creating User'. This is how HQ is able to utilize the same workflows - whoever assigns the workflow is automatically assigned all of the tasks under it.
Step 4 then is outcomes. It is time-saving to wait to do outcomes until the very end - be sure you have all the pieces of the puzzle assembled in Redtail before assigning any outcomes. Outcomes can be complicated or simple, and control what step follows once the current step is completed. Outcomes can be utilized to control what steps actually have to be completed prior to completing the workflow; say you have a workflow with 7 total steps. The first step has two possible outcomes, and depending on which outcome is selected upon the completion of the first step, you'll either be led to a series of 4 additional steps or 2 additional steps. If led to two additional steps, outcomes will let you be guided through the 7 step workflow while only having to complete 3 of the steps - the rest are auto-completed by the other outcome not having been selected.
For Example: CGN utilizes a client onboarding workflow. As part of the 2nd step of the workflow, there is are two outcomes: 1) 'Client is over age 60' and 2) 'Client is under age 60'. If 'Client is over age 60' is selected, then an additional set of steps appears in order to complete Trusted Contact. If 'Client is under age 60' is selected, the additional steps are skipped.
But wait, you say, at no point did you mention the timeline - when do you build out all of the due dates? How do I best establish the timeline to utilize a workflow?
Here's the punchline: In my experience, there's only two effective ways to manage due dates.
- No due dates at all.
- All the same due date. This is my personal preference, and what the majority of our workflows here at HQ are built on.
No due dates at all.
If you assign no due dates, then everything will show in your Workflow Tasks tile in the top right of your screen.
Some like to utilize this as a running list of all current workflow tasks. ONLY tasks on current steps will show on this list, effectively making it a hot list of where you are in every single outstanding to-do item. You can then go to that tile daily, and see what can be marked off in order to move to the next step.
Personally, I find that this way works better for people who do not have a long list. In the picture above I show 67 - this is a manageable size to skim through on the daily. In the dead of tax season, that list is 350+. Day-to-day tasks quickly get lost in the shuffle of the longer term workflows intended to run the length of tax season.
To establish this on your workflow templates: Target Date field should be empty, and each step's Due Date should be empty. Tasks are always due on the step Due Date.
NOTE that this means none of those tasks will ever show on your 'Workflow tasks to do today' tile on the landing page in Redtail. That tile is solely based on the due date, and will not sure either past due or future.
All the same due date.
Like I said - this is my personal preference for the majority of workflows. To structure this one, Target Date should be set to Date Assigned, and each step Due Date should be set to On Target Date.
Functionally, this means that you should interpret the Target Date as the date you want the workflow to appear next on your 'Workflow tasks to do today' list. If no tasks can be completed that day for that workflow, or it will not be completed that day, then you should click into the workflow, and reset the target date to the next date that you want to check on that task.
In this way, you can use that tile on your dashboard to keep a running list for each day of what needs to be completed, or reassigned and checked at a later date.
As always, feel free to submit a Help Ticket with additional questions, or email Nicola directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.