Enhancing productivity in the workplace frees up more time for employees, which means you can do more with less resources – something everyone is striving for these days. You may be well on your way to a more efficient workplace, via means such as more productive communication (like implementing Microsoft Teams) and utilising Business Intelligence to give you better insights into business streams, time and project tracking, and predictive analysis. So what’s next? Now comes building data workflows.
What are data workflows?
Data workflows are connectors between or within apps that take data from one app and send it to another app (or the same app), sometimes adding a transformation (or multiple transformations) along the way. You can even string them together for multiple different steps, with multiple different apps. It can even be a way to sync data between apps.
For instance, if you use Outlook at your workstation, but like to use Google Calendar on your phone, then you can use a data workflow to sync the two – or just do a one-way sync if your Google Calendar also includes personal info you don’t want to add to Outlook.
Or, if you have a spreadsheet in Excel that needs a numeric value copied from a specific column each time new info is added, then added to another column in another spreadsheet and multiplied by a value in another spreadsheet, you could do that with a data workflow too.
With really clever data workflows, the data may even be contained in a single store, instead of being duplicated across apps. This is generally only possible within specific ecosystems, such as the Office 365 business environment.
Why data workflows will skyrocket productivity
Let’s take the examples from above and see how they’d help productivity.
For the Outlook/Google Calendar example, this could mean a few things:
- Not switching between Outlook and Google Calendar on your phone if both are installed
- Access to work appoints via phone if Outlook isn’t installed
- Not being boxed into using Outlook on phone if you don’t want to
Each of these would boost productivity, or in the last case, reduce frustration.
For the Excel example, this would mean there is no need to open three different spreadsheets and copy and paste between them each time the action is performed.
And these are just two examples! You can connect up pretty much any popular app or software program and any other one.
How do I make these connector workflows?
In the past, you’d need to employ the services of a software developer to build workflows for you, which made the process simply not economically viable for most small to medium businesses.
The good news is that now there are specific apps that will do it for you, meaning people with little to no software development experience are able to create workflows themselves.
One of these apps lives within the Microsoft suite: Flow. Flow can connect apps within the Microsoft suite, as well as an ever-growing range of third party apps such as Asana, DocuSign, Gmail, LinkedIn and more. You can browse some of the Microsoft pre-prepared Templates as well as develop your own data workflows with the app. If many of your business apps live within the Office 365 ecosystem then Flow is a really good place to start.
Other apps that do similar things include IFTTT (If This Then That), one of the original entries into the data workflow marketplace, and Zapier. Both are available on business subscription plans, although you can try a personal plan out yourself on your own apps to see how they work – as it can take some patience and getting used to before you get it right.
Who should build data workflows in your business?
It can take a while to get the hang of building workflows. It makes sense to either do team or personal training for using these apps, or designate tech-savvy people within the business to build out workflows on the request of other people. It’s not always possible to do exactly what you want with any of these apps; you may have to use more than one, or ask the company itself for a feature request.
If you would like help with training for building data workflows for your business, then A1 Technologies can show you how. If you have some workflows in mind that you’d like built out immediately, then we can even do that for you, too. Let us show you the way towards enhanced workplace productivity with data workflows. Chat to us now.
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