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Five “W”s to set up your own workflow...

Q: How do you define a workflow?

A: Use the five “W”s to setup your own workflow: Why, Who, Where, When, and What.

1. Choosing Why 

Choose the Why first, as it helps identify the steps in the workflow. Here are some examples of Why: “New listing”, “45-day escrow”, “60 days to close”, and “Prospect follow-up”. You can even focus the workflow more narrowly, such as “45-day escrow, seller”, “45-day escrow, buyer”, “45- day escrow, buyer and seller.” Typically, the Why becomes the title of your workflow.

Once you’ve identified the purpose of a workflow, you can focus on the tasks required to achieve its goal. A workflow typically requires many tasks, where each task requires one or more of the rest of the “W”s, Who, What, When, and Where.

2. Identifying Who

There are two parts to this… Who is doing the task and Who is the task being done for? Every task has to be done by someone on your team — this is the first part of the Who equation. If you are an individual agent, you’ll likely perform every task in the workflow.

However, if you are part of a team, a task might be assigned to a teammate or specialist. A workflow action can represent the job or role of one person on your team. The second “Who” of the equation represents the person(s) receiving the action. Most often, a task is performed for a client, a buyer or a seller, however a task can be for any party member involved in a listing or transaction. Additionally, you can select a group of contacts using a TAG as an identifier.

3. Picking Where

The majority of workflow activities likely concern a property. The property is the Where— it’s the context in which the work is performed. The Where is selected when you start using a defined workflow.

4. Choosing When

“When” dictates the timing of a task. “When” can be expressed in a couple different ways. For instance, “October 15th” and “Three days before closing” are both supported. The former is an example of an absolute date. Some tasks have absolute dates, such as the start of a Holiday like New Years Eve or Thanksgiving.

However, most tasks occur after some time has elapsed from the start of a project or at some point before the end of a project. These dates are called relative dates or calculated dates, because the actual calendar day on which the task falls is derived from some other date. For example, consider the task “Send a reminder to buyer three days before closing.” Here, the When is “3 days”, “before,” “closing date.” If the closing date is scheduled for December 10th, the reminder is scheduled for December 7th. Calculated dates are essential to the construction 16 of a workflow. A workflow is intended to be used time and time again. It’s a template. A calculated date is a formula: it computes “When” given one or more absolute dates.

As you’ll see briefly, tasks with absolute dates are scheduled when you start a new workflow. For instance, if you start an “Escrow” workflow, you’ll be prompted to schedule the date of closing. A task with an absolute date must be scheduled manually to reflect the terms of your deal. However, a task with a calculated date is automatically scheduled according to its formula.

It’s usually easy to discern when an absolute date is appropriate. The examples that follow can provide inspiration and instruction.

5. Specifying What

Finally, the “What” of a task dictates the actual work to be performed. What might describe a phone call to make, an email to send, a document to send for execution, or a lunch meeting.

Realvolve provides a great many attributes to describe the What of a task. Attributes include a title, a type, a checklist, and automated actions to run on completion of the task.

● The title is a brief description of the activity.  Type is a handy classification like: Anniversary, Appointment, Birthday, Call, Email, Follow Up, Lunch, Meeting, Text, To Do, Travel.

● The checklist defines one or more actions that must be complete before the task can be marked done. A task checklist is optional, but consider using it to break down a complex task into its constituent parts.

● A task action performs an activity on your behalf whenever its associated task is marked complete. For example, say you want to send email to your buyer after closing. Attach an Email action to the closing and choose the email template to use. In most cases, the template is some form of a document with merge fields. Hey <>, Just wanted to say congratulations on the purchase of your new home. I’m so glad you found the right one. If there is anything that I can do to make the move easier, please let me know.

Here, the placeholder <> would be replaced with the first name of the buyer of the property. The resulting text is sent via email to the buyer’s email address.

Other actions can add or remove tags, post to Facebook, as well as start other another workflow. Actions are done automatically for you to reduce the time it takes to reach your goals.


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