Friday, 19 November 2010

Introducing Pipelines and Activity Sets

We're introducing two new features today that really help you get things done faster and more efficiently in Insightly. They're called Pipelines and Activity Sets.

Pipelines

A pipeline is a linear series of steps (stages) that can be defined for both projects and opportunities. If you repeat the same series of steps over and over for different projects, you can define a pipeline for those steps so you can visually track progress and see exactly where you are, what you have already done, and what you still have left to do.

You can also assign tasks to a stage in a pipeline (via Activity Sets detailed below), and when you progress to that stage, the tasks associated with that stage are automatically added to your project or opportunity. When you have completed all the tasks for a stage, you can progress on to the next stage. It's a good way of mapping out a workflow and making sure you don't miss any important steps along the way.

Pipelines might be best illustrated with an example. A pipeline for creating a new software feature for Insightly might look something like this:

Step 1: Strategize and think about feature aims, whats required, how it might work
Step 2: Map out rough sketches for what screens might look and iterate
Step 3: Develop HTML screens for feature
Step 4: Write code for new feature
Step 5: Test
Step 6: Launch to Production
Step 7: Update documentation, website, and add blog entry

Now we have each step mapped out, we can input them into Insightly. The pipelines configuration is found under the Settings menu in the top right (gear icon) accessible to Administrators. Our new pipeline is for projects, because we will create a separate project for each new feature we add to Insightly.


Next we can add the steps (stages) to the pipeline that we just defined above. Click on the 'Edit Stages' hyperlink next to the pipeline to add the stages in. After adding in our seven stages, the pipeline looks like the screen below, and you can see Insightly visually draws the pipeline  for you above the stage list.


Now, when we create a new project we will have two extra dropdowns in the creation form which enable us to choose a pipeline and a starting stage to use for the project. We're going to create a new project for the awesome new 'Activity Sets' feature we're building, so we choose our new pipeline for this project.
Finally, when we view the Project details, Insightly visually depicts the pipeline and highlights the current stage in blue, so we can easily see exactly where we are up to in the workflow, what stage is coming next, and how far we have to go. Advancing to the next stage in the pipeline is as easy as clicking on the 'Change Stage' hyperlink to the right of the pipeline.


Activity Sets

Activity Sets are like a template for a series of tasks (activities). If you find that you repeat the same set of tasks over and over for different actions - like 'qualifying a lead', or 'developing an opportunity', you can create an activity set to save you the time of having to create each task individually every time you start the process. Activity Sets can be applied to contacts, organisations, opportunities and projects, and they can also be associated with stages in a pipeline.

Administrators can setup Activity Sets under the Settings menu (gear icon in top right). The first step is to specify a name for the activity set, and to choose what it applies to (contacts, organisations, opportunities or projects). 

We will use the process of hiring a new staff member to illustrate how activity sets work. First we create the activity set and give it a name, in this case we're calling it 'Staff hire', and it's for projects as we will create a new project for recruiting a staff member.


Next we add the activities involved in hiring a new staff member. Insightly allows you to specify the number of days after the activity set is applied for each task to fall due. Insightly also allows you to skip days like Saturday or Sunday so tasks don't fall due on weekends or when part time staff are not working. 

So our task list might look like the following:

Task 1: Review resumes (due after 2 days)
Task 2: Create short list of favored applicants (due after 3 days)
Task 3: Phone interviews of short list (due after 4 days)
Task 4: In-person interviews with potentials (due after 6 days)
Task5: Send out offer letter to successful applicant (due after 7 days)
Task 6: Confirm acceptance and schedule orientation (due after 14 days)

To add the individual tasks to the set, click on the 'Edit Activities' hyperlink to the right of the Activity Set details. After adding the tasks, the set looks like the illustration below:


When we create our project to recruit a new staff member, we can apply our new activity set to automatically add in the tasks. You can apply an activity set to a contact, organisation, opportunity, or project by accessing the Actions menu. We click 'Add Activity Set to Project' for this one.

The last step is to choose our new Activity Set from the list, and click the 'Add Activity Set to Project' button to add the tasks. We can see the breakdown of tasks to be created, when they are due, and who's responsible, after choosing our activity set from the drop down list.

Activity Sets associated with Pipeline Stages

Activity Sets can also be associated with pipeline stages. When a stage commences, the activity set is applied to the project or opportunity and all the tasks for that stage in the activity set are created. You can associate an Activity Set with a pipeline stage by choosing it from the dropdown when editing or adding pipeline stages, as shown below.


When tasks associated with a pipeline stage are added to a project or opportunity, they show a blue 'S' and the number of the stage in the pipeline in the task list as illustrated below.


Pipelines and activity sets are a great way to capture and save repetitive workflows, and to visually see at a glance where in a workflow you sit and what actions need to be performed next. They can be a great time saver and a powerful way to automate repeat actions in your business.

27 comments:

  1. Amazing!, this kind of features makes insightly ever sexier every day

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  2. Hey Great Guys,

    This is exactly what i was looking for. These 2 great features will simply increase the performance of my team at least 10 times. You guys rock.

    Now every time i start a new project, i just have to add the correct pipeline and activity set and i can actual focus on the work rather than spending precious minutes recreating the same set of steps every time. This is really powerful.

    I sincerely thank the Insightly Team!

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  3. Another great feature....Thanks Insightly Team

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  4. Thanks for the great comments. We really appreciate the feedback.

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  5. Great job!

    Suggestion/idea: Having more visual prompts as to how far along we are in a stage or project would be great. It is always nice to be able to scan through task and see which ones are almost completed so that we can target them.

    Having a dashboard that shows all of them would be great too. I like visuals. :)

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    1. I agree that we need a visual pipeple for stages on the dashboard - with the option to turn it on or off as needed.

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  6. Love this enhancement!

    Would be great if you would display the current pipeline stage on the main projects and opportunities pages (so we could see at a glance where things stand).

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  7. Excelente, se nos presento un requerimiento en el CRM hoy y al entrar al CRM veo esta funcionalidad que es lo que necesitaba. Voy a probar y les comento. Gracias!!.

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  8. Having done project management on projects of varying size, I love this feature! This is a critical piece to managing work flow and you did an awesome job of thinking it through.

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  9. Hi,

    New user, great product! Will greatly simplify my life!

    Great feature. Would be fab if pipeline status was displayed in opportunities / project list, next to status for example.

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  10. i dont see the gear icon, turns out im a system user. how do i make myself an administrator?

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  11. extra ordinary....
    we swear by insightly!

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  12. Jim, ditto here. We have multiple team members who perform the same activity sets on different projects. As-is, all the tasks in an activity set have to be assigned to someone and only that person can check them off.

    LOVE it otherwise.

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  13. This is and awesome feature - one enhacement though please - how to order tasks when they are on the same day - either add some 'order' flag or a nominal hour / time delay - how about decimal days ! (tried that it didn't work!)

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  14. Hi, Please can u add a feature on activity sets where a task can be allocated automatically to the person responsible for the project. as the administrator i am setting up the activity sets for a few ppl who do the same tasks.

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  15. Hi, How to change the start of activitive set date?

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  16. I would like to be able to control the close percentage by pipeline stage. So each stage has a percentage assigned to it which updates the deals close likely hood percentage.

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    1. This would be a good feature if we had the ability to set the percentages per stage as a "set it and forget it" feature. I find it rather annoying that I have to manually set the stage percentage for each opportunity when it is always the same percentage.

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  17. Great feature.. and can see how this would be great for applying to one-off replicated projects as needed

    Is there a way to setup a monthly reoccurring pipeline for projects?

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  18. my issue is can i assign tasks to people that are now in my organization.
    i have projects that i need to assign to people that are not in my google apps so how do i??

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  19. I would also love to know whether you are planning on introducing the ability to change the start date of an activity set. For some reason, the start date is always set to the day the activity set was added to the project and I can't figure out how to change it. Activity sets are useful but find it annoying having to manually edit all the due dates for each task.

    Am I missing something?

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  20. As long as we're asking for coolness - I'm evaluating using insight.ly as a tool for lead nurturing on a small scale. I create activity sets for each new person I add to insight.ly and have scheduled tasks for follow up with those people so that I have at least 5 touches over 7 weeks. Statistically speaking, this leads to more sales.

    Today I create a task saying "send email #2 to this person after 10 days" - I'd LOVE it if insight.ly could do that automatically - you've already got the recipient email and the rules engine to generate the task - would it be a big feature to allow sending emails to contacts automatically?

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    1. I agree. This would help if we could automate this email feature.

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  21. hey guys, your images are not loading!

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    1. this is true...all we see is a grey triangle with an exclamation sign inside. Would be helpful to see these images - even on the older posts.

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