Flows

In this article

Flows overview
Creating a Flow
Adding Flow Stages
Adding actions to a Stage
Adding contacts to a Flow
Removing contacts from a Flow
Duplicating a Flow
Processing contacts through a Flow
Flows completed
Communication with Flow contacts
Intended functionality of Flows

Flows overview

Flows are a function of the Address Book module and work by breaking a repetitive contact-management task down into stages; each stage has pre-set actions that can be processed - everything from assigning a Tag, Key Date or custom field value to a contact, to automatically sending a preset email or SMS. Using Flows you will be able to easily move a contact through a process, managing the actions that run at each stage. Importantly, Flows will help you manage multiple people who may all be at different stages with your processes.

Creating a Flow

In "Address Book" > "Flows", click "Add flow". Note also that we've provided some example Flows that can be created simply by selecting them from the list. Give your Flow a name.

ChurchSuite lets you assign overseers to monitor how a Flow is progressing. When actions are due or overdue, overseers receive an email, keeping them informed of what actions are outstanding and which Users (if any) the actions are assigned to. The notification emails contain hyperlinks from the email direct to the Flow or the contact's Process window within the Flow. Set your Flow reminder frequency next. 

By default, a Flow is visible to all Users with Address Book use and manage module permissions. Flow visibility can however be restricted to just one (or more) User Groups by selecting them from the drop-down list. Restricting visibility has the effect of hiding the Flow from the "Address Book" > "Flows" list, and any contacts in that Flow will not show as being in that Flow when viewing their contact profile in the Address Book.

Finally, set the Flow status to active. The system only generate automated reminders for active Flows. When using the "Add to Flow" functionality in ChurchSuite, only active Flows will be available.

Warning - before you delete a User Group!

Before deleting a User Group, consider whether any Notes, Tags or Flows have their visibility restricted to just that User Group. If you proceed with deleting the User Group, no users or administrators will be able to view those tags, notes or flows - they will be hidden from view. This is intentional in order to respect the original visibility restrictions that were intended to ensure privacy of those items.

Before deleting a User Group, update the visibility restrictions of your Notes, Tags and Flows - either to "All Users", "Just me" or to an alternative User Group; then proceed with the group deletion.

Once a User Group is deleted, only the ChurchSuite support team can restore the visibility of those hidden tags/notes/flows.

Working with User Groups

You should also be careful when restricting the visibility of a Flow that is dependent on another Flow. For example, a Flow that has an "Add to Flow" action to process people from one Flow in to another Flow that has restricted visibility will cause issues to users who are not part of at least one user group that is being used for Flow visibility restriction.

Adding Flow Stages

In Edit Flow view, simply click "Add Stage" to create a new, next stage in your Flow process. Flow Stages can be re-ordered easily using the up and down chevron handles, or removed entirely by click the "x" next to the Stage name.

Individual Users can also be assigned to watch over each Flow Stage and the individual actions of that Stage, allowing you delegate certain tasks or actions to the best suited members of your team. Those Users will also receive update emails on days that tasks they're assigned become due or overdue, showing them just the actions that they're responsible for processing.

Adding actions to a Stage

Choose actions and any related settings from the drop-down lists - a full list of actions and explanations is provided on the right hand side of your Flow set-up page. 

Remember to include "Move to stage" actions that will allow contacts to be moved forwards (or backwards). Note that you can re-order actions by simply dragging the handles to the left of an action, and you can specify the default state of the action - either checked or unchecked by default.

Actions can be deleted by pressing the "x" next to any action in the Edit Flow view.

Flow actions always relate to the current Flow, therefore when adding redirect actions e.g. "Add to Flow", you may wish to provide the equivalent navigation action within your other Flow so that you can "Add" a contact back to the original Flow, should you need to. When processing people through a Flow that includes an "Add to Flow" action, the user will have the opportunity to select which stage within that Flow they should be added to - the default being the first stage of the Flow.

Make sure that your final Flow Stage has a "Move to stage" > "Flow Completed", so that your contacts will exit the Flow once they are processed through the final stage. You might also find it useful to record a Key Date for "Completed Flow XYZ".

Adding contacts to a Flow

You can add individuals or Tag groups of contacts to a Flow in the Flow view.

You can also add a contact directly into a Flow from their profile page - click "Add to flow" from the drop-down list.

Additionally you can add groups of contacts to a Flow, either directly from "Address Book" > "Tags" (when viewing the Tag), or from the sign-ups section on an event page in the Calendar module.

Whenever you add groups of contacts to a Flow, you'll receive a feedback message confirming the actions, so you'll always know which people were added, and which people weren't, and the reason why!

Removing contacts from a Flow

When viewing your Flow, click the cog-wheels drop-down menu on the right-hand side, and select "Remove from Flow".

Duplicating a Flow

Having created a Flow, perhaps for a particular ministry, there are times when it is useful to be able to duplicate that Flow for another ministry which may have similar processes (i.e. similar Stages and Actions). To duplicate a Flow, navigate to the Flows page, and select "Duplicate flow" from the Flow option cog on the right-hand side.

Note that only the Flow structure is duplicated, not the contacts who may be in the Flow being duplicated from.

Processing contacts through a Flow

As a Flow Stages become due for a contact you can quickly and easily process them through the actions of that Stage. Begin by clicking the "Process" button. The option cog on the right-hand side of each contact, gives options to remove the contact from the Flow or to move the contact backwards within the current Flow to the previous stage (not backwards to a stage in another Flow, if the contact had been there previously).

Note: You can easily batch process contacts within a stage, making processing of actions for multiple contacts quicker. Within a stage, select the contacts to be batch-processed by ticking the checkbox to the left of their name; then select "Process" from the drop-down "Actions" menu.

In the batch process window you can now select which actions are to be performed for all the selected contacts.

When processing individuals (rather than batch processing), the Process window includes helpful contact profile information at a glance, with instructions of what you need to do. You can also see notes that have been made about the contact, and add further Notes (e.g. notes about telephone conversations).

The Process window also lists the Actions that will be performed when the "Run Actions" button is pressed. Tick or untick all the actions that apply - ticked actions will be run. For example, if the instructions for this Stage were to make a "welcome" telephone call and the contact wasn't in when you rang; for example, you might record a Note that you tried to call, but then untick the "Move to next Stage" action so that the contact remains at that Stage while you try another time. Having added a Note, you also have the option of 'pinning' a Note to the top of the list. Pinned notes always stay at the top of the list so that your important notes always get seen! Pinned notes can also be unpinned if needed. Once unpinned they take their place back in the date order of your other notes.

While most actions require little intervention in order to be actioned, the "Add Key Date" action allows you to specify the Key Date that should be assigned when the Actions are run. By default, when processing a Key Date action, today's date is suggested; however using the 'date picker', the user can select a custom date or over-type the date. For example, in this DBS Flow example, the Key Date to be assigned might be the date that is printed on the DBS Certificate. Note also how the key date Description can be added, in this example to record the DBS Certificate number.

If no actions are ticked, the contact will remain at that Flow Stage when you "Run Actions". If you find that contacts are not moving to the next stage when you process them, check to ensure you have added a "Move to Stage" action to each stage in your Flow set-up.

Top Tip - personalise your email or SMS before you process

Whilst Flows allow you to send Preset emails and SMSs as a Process Action, did you know that you can personalise those communications before you click "Process" and send the message? In the Process window, simply click the "Personalise" button next to any "Send email" or "Send SMS" actions. This opens the Preset email or SMS allowing you to personalise it further prior to it being sent.

A Flow Stage can easily be delegated to another User, or deferred, simply changing the assignee and/or the due date, and then un-ticking all the actions before clicking "Run Actions"; in effect performing no actions but reassigning to a new User.

Flow Completed

A complete report of contacts that have completed a Flow is maintained in "Address Book" > "Reports". Scroll down to the Flows section and open the "Flow Completed" report.

Selecting a Flow and filtering by date you can generate a list of contacts that have completed the Flow. For each contact in the report results, the date they completed the Flow is shown and the total number of days each contact was in the Flow for. Clicking on the number of days opening a window showing the complete tracking history, the users, stages, dates and actions performed.

Note that the report only shows contacts that have completed completed all stages of your Flow and exited the Flow in the final stage. Contacts that have been removed from the Flow will not be included in the report results. Therefore, instead of using the "Remove from Flow" action (see above), you might encourage your Flow users to get in the habit of processing contacts all the way through a Flow, even if no process actions except "Move to next stage" are performed.

Communication with Flow contacts

You can easily communicate with all contacts in any Stage using the "Communication" button located at the top of each Stage.

Intended functionality of Flows

Flows are a User function (requiring a user to log in to ChurchSuite in order to process contacts and perform stage actions); therefore Flow reminder notification emails are sent to the user's email address; not the email address of any contact linked to that User. Flow reminders are therefore not recorded in the User's linked contact communication log.

Furthermore, Flows are an Address Book function for adult contacts only; it is not currently available for child contacts in the Children module. For safeguarding reasons we encourage churches not to add child contacts to the Address Book in order to use Flows.

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