Manual tasks, data entry in particular, is one of the main problems of field service industries, such as construction, energy, aviation, etc. Manual activities, paper document management, commuting for signatures and approval, task notifications through emails or phone calls, reprint of edited forms, etc. consume time and slow down the overall performance.
Workflow automation can be a solution. It offers tools to standardize repeatable procedures, providing flow templates for all of the business processes. Workflows automate work tasks and, as a result, improve process management, making it more transparent, coordinated, and error-proof.
When set properly, business process automation lets companies save time, create new growth opportunities and manage operations with minimal human intervention.
What Is Taskstream?
Taskstream by Fluix is an advanced workflow functionality that automates repetitive tasks with a fixed and predictable path of completion. A taskstream (workflow) is a sequence of steps that route data to the right people through a lifecycle, and get tasks from being undone to done.
Before building a taskstream, you need to predefine this sequence, and the people responsible for each task. Then you design a flow, and set up the rules that will route data or files between people, and coordinate collaboration between them.
An example is a punch list process taskstream. It configures communication between two groups of people – contractors and subcontractors. It has fixed paths with some variations that are processed within a single taskstream.
What Processes Can be Automated with Taskstream
Workflow automation can be used across any kind of business or industry, from construction to health insurance. The more labor-intensive repetitive processes an organization has, the more it benefits from automation.
Here are some processes that can be optimized using Taskstream:
- Work order
- Jobsite inspection
- Asset maintenance
- Quality control
- Audit & compliance
- Procurement & expense management
- Budgeting & billing
- Employee management
- IT service requests
- Legal reviews
Taskstream vs. Regular Fluix Workflows: What’s the Difference?
Put simply, Taskstream is an evolved version of traditional flow charts, which has advanced features and characteristics, both visual and functional.
In the image, you can see the visual difference between the two functionalities. The block structure has transformed into a process-based swimlane diagram, and task paths have become easier to track. Swimlanes also indicate the areas of responsibility more clearly, highlighting steps that need to be completed.
And the below table gives explanations about tech characteristics – differences and similarities. This isn’t an overall list but it will give you a general idea of what you get when using each tool.
|Swimlane flow based on users and groups||BPM (business process model) swimlane diagram based on process steps|
|Forms||Fillable PDFs||Fillable PDFs & web forms|
|Support of multiple field types (text, number, email field, photo/image, signature, QR and barcodes, dropdowns, radio buttons, checkboxes, and more)|
|In-built PDF form builder||In-built PDF & web form builder|
|Online and offline mode|
|Access to multiple read-only file formats||Access to read-only attachments (PDFs & image files)|
|Limited access to forms for specific users||Limited access to forms for specific groups|
Document & Data
|Recurring processes (workflows) assign forms to users or groups||Recurring processes (taskstreams) attach forms to tasks, which are assigned to users or groups|
|“AND” and “OR” steps can be added in the process|
|Submitted forms can be reassigned to individuals or groups||Submitted forms can be reassigned to groups with optional conditional logic|
|Custom notifications on task assignments|
|Several groups can fill in one form simultaneously|
|Documents can be sent for legally valid e-signatures to external recipients (customers and clients)||N/A|
|Each process is focused on the workflow regarding a single form (though users on mobile devices can optionally attach files to the form before submitting)||Each process can involve data capture from multiple forms. Different tasks within the process can have different attachments for review|
|Every workflow has a “document history” that authenticates when and who completed each step in the process||Every taskstream has a “process status” that authenticates when and who completed each step in the process|
|N/A||The total duration of each process is quantified in order to identify process improvement over time|
|Platforms||Web, iOS||Web, iOS, Android|
|Integrations||Connection to a third-party cloud storage to push
completed forms to
|Data extraction from completed forms for analysis
|Data from completed forms can be sent to webhooks
and directly to third-party APIs
Both traditional Fluix workflows and Taskstream have more to offer than provided in the table. To get the fullest info, you can contact our sales team or customer success team at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
How to Create a Taskstream
Despite the complex functionality, creation of taskstreams doesn’t require tech or code skills and is user-friendly. In the video above, you can see that the Taskstream builder has 3 drag-n-drop modules – Task, Submit Actions, Branches – each having its own settings. Using them, you can design taskstreams of different complexity and tailor them to whatever processes you aim to automate.
- Design a step sequence. Identify tasks, people and documents to establish the framework of the flow. Drag and drop corresponding modules in the required sequence.
- Upload ready forms or create new ones in the in-built form builder. Create professional forms in the in-built editor that supports images, signature, checkboxes and other basic fields.
- Add actions. Add actions so that your team members can fill in forms, sign them if approved, or assign them back for rework.
- Add task description. Add descriptions to tasks, when needed, to let people know what to pay attention to while performing the job.
- Attach files. Attach manuals, guidelines, photos or other files your remote team might need while working on site and filling out forms.
- Track task status. Set instant notifications that will let people know when they’re assigned a task. You can also set up reminders to close tasks on time.
- Use smart search. Go to specific tasks applying search filters by name, status, or due date.
Watch this video to get a better understanding of how these functions work together.
Task Automation Examples: 5 Taskstreams to Get Started With
The onboarding process starts before a new hire comes to the office on the first day. The HR department needs to prepare all the legal documents, an employee handbook, work instructions, safety talks, etc. and distribute them before all teams involved. Then there is a process of welcoming a new member and introducing them to the team and company.
Employee onboarding isn’t a formal procedure, but rather a strategic investment in the team’s success. The smoother it goes for a person, the higher the working experience and eventually the retention rate are.
The bigger the size of the company, the more important it’s to automate record and approval of employee work hours. Paper-based time cards and even spreadsheets have disadvantages like cost, waste of time, complexity of the approval process, human error, mess with files and folders.
Task automation helps reduce paper usage, record work hours properly, show project status, analyze employee performance and predict HR budget. Employees can fill in digital timesheets using mobile devices and their managers can check and approve them from anywhere.
Big projects that consist of different stages require commissioning. This process includes planning, documentation, maintenance schedule, testing, and verification of the equipment’s compliance with the project requirements and regulations.
Such a complex process is often managed by distributed teams, each responsible for their own task. The successful teamwork can be achieved by using automated workflows that facilitate collaboration between teams, and allow for a transparent process lifecycle.
4. Safety Talk
Safety talks are short team safety meetings held to discuss safety hazards and safe work practices. They serve to improve safety at the workplace, instruct team members on possible risks, and improve the overall employees’ wellbeing. Safety talks also help companies comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.
Automating safety talks can reduce the whole procedure at the same time increasing its effectiveness. People can get familiar with digital hand-outs in advance, consume information when convenient, and participate in general discussions more effectively.
Quality control refers to all activities across an organization that ensures that the work environment, manufacturing, used materials and the final product are compliant with the quality standards, national policies and client expectations.
Quality control checklists are one of the main elements of any quality inspection. They help communicate critical issues and enable field crews and subcontractors to better understand whether all acceptance criteria have been met, and the project is ready for the closure stage.
Benefits of Taskstream
- Reduction of repetitive tasks. To conduct a procedure, let’s say, a safety inspection, you don’t need to design a flow from scratch every time. Instead, you have a ready workflow that specifies what actions are performed by what people, and who are responsible for each task.
- Faster and convenient data capture. Digital forms simplify data collection a lot. Imagine you need to inspect new drains of a condominium building before covering them up. Checklists for this kind of inspection can be pages long and consist of hundreds of fields to fill. Instead of carrying out packs of paper and manually writing every line, you can enter data faster carrying only one mobile device.
- Reduced data entry mistakes. Manual entry is associated with misplaced data, misspelling, illegible handwriting, eros while reentering data into databases. Digital forms allow for more accurate data collection, and auto-populated fields save time and reduce the workload, reducing the chances for people to make mistakes due to the lack of proofreading time.
- Collaboration between distributed teams. Complex projects may include different models of hybrid teams: remote and in-office, outsource and in-house, office team and field crew, full time workers and freelancers. They often work from different locations and use different devices. Software with unified and standardized processes can play the role of “headquarters” for all parties involved, ensuring that all data is synced, stored in one place, and everyone has access to it.
- Progress visualization. Workflows allow you to monitor the progress and visualize the steps, decisions and interactions needed to get a document from assigned to completed.
- Data security. All documents are stored on a cloud, and you control people who have access to sensitive data. Collaboration on the document happens within a single system, and there are fewer possibilities for data leakage or exposure during document transfer, including through emails.
To Sum Up
Any company looking for efficiency improvement should start considering workflow automation. Without it, you’ll continue spending time on manual entry and repetitive tasks no matter how much you think you’ve standardized them.
By adopting Taskstream, you can better manage your projects, leverage operations, and maximize the performance of the existing IT investments on the enterprise level.
What’s more, automated workflows remove the load of mundane work from your employees, making them more satisfied with their role and activities. The ROI of this advantage is hard to calculate, so it’s often underrated, yet its effect on employee retention is significant.
To test Taskstream in action, you can create a trial account (valid for 14 days) and try mapping your business processes with taskstreams. The time you’ll spend on exploring a new feature will pay off immediately.