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Empower Teams to Move Ideas Forward With Automation

by Scott Willeke

Editor's note: This post is the second in a series we ran during the Smartsheet ENGAGE customer conference this year. You can read the first post here.

The promise of automation doesn’t just lie in self-driving cars. Here at Smartsheet, we believe that there is a great opportunity in automating the sophisticated team processes that information workers need to follow every day, regardless of which department they work in, what organization they work for, or where they are located across the globe.

Last year, at our inaugural Smartsheet ENGAGE customer conference, we introduced automated update requests and approval requests to start accelerating the execution of repeatable business processes.

That was just the beginning.

Empowering Everyone to Harness the Power of Automation

Since our initial release, we’ve been working — with feedback from many of you — to empower our customers to automate more processes, while making it even easier to set up that automation. Today we’re excited to share some big announcements from yesterday’s ENGAGE’18 opening keynote.

We introduced our new, more intuitive workflow builder to empower more teams to automate repetitive processes and workflows, including automated alerts, update requests, approval requests, and more.  

The workflow builder breaks out the components of each automation rule in a visual and logical manner, so it’s easy for you and other process owners on your team to set up your workflows.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Select a trigger: When do you want the automation to occur?

  2. Add optional conditions: Should the automation only occur in certain rows?

  3. Choose the action: Do you want to request information from someone? Alert someone of an update? Lock or unlock a row?

Walk-through of visual workflow builder for automated actions

Here’s how one customer describes the value of empowering everyone on his team to automate their work:

“Managing process improvement projects can be cumbersome and usually requires tenured team members [to work] on building new processes. With the visual workflow builder, I can deploy newer team members to create and test improved processes.”

Faizur Rahman

Manager of Customer Service, RedHat

Building Key Capabilities to Speed Execution

During the last year, one of our most frequently requested product enhancements has been the ability to trigger automation based on a date. We were pleased to announce in yesterday’s keynote that date-based workflows are now available.

Screenshot of date-based triggers

You can choose a specific date or select a date column in your sheet to trigger automated alerts and actions. For example, when a task hits its deadline but the status isn’t marked as complete, you can have Smartsheet automatically ask the task owner to update the status or provide more information in a comment.

“As part of a mission-critical team focused on supporting field operations, it is imperative that we continuously improve and innovate on how we work. Date-based workflows will help us track our impact on a timely basis without needing to manually chase down each piece of feedback."

Sean Crookston

Senior Manager of Product Marketing, VMWare

We’re also making it possible to automate more in your team’s workflows. Earlier this year, we released the ability to automatically lock rows in your sheets, and you can now also unlock rows based on specific criteria. Together, these automated actions help you control when contributors can and cannot make edits to your sheet. That’s particularly helpful for enforcing stage-gate processes, quiet periods, and similar scenarios.

Continuously Improving Automation

We’re always looking for new and powerful capabilities we can build to help you save an hour or more a day with automation.

In our keynote yesterday, we announced the upcoming release of multi-step approval workflows, which will provide a comprehensive view of the more sophisticated processes you can automate. You will be able to build a single workflow that combines multiple approvals and other automated actions, instead of having to set up an automation rule for each step separately. This improved visibility will help you and your team create, edit, and troubleshoot automated solutions.

As we head into 2019, we’ll continue to enable additional actions that automate direct changes in sheets. But we know it’s not enough to build powerful capabilities if most business users can’t figure out how they work. That’s why we’ve remained committed to empowering everyone to automate their processes in Smartsheet — whether or not they know how to code.

Read the third post in our series here