Most enterprises support makers—who can be roughly defined as people who are curious, inspired, and who constantly find themselves saying, “There just has to be a better way to do this—only in theory. For serious, enterprise-grade innovation, enterprise leaders seem to think tried and true methods are needed—you know, classically trained developers. Best to leave “making” to the hackers, solo-preneurs, and employees of early-stage startups. Makers are really only good at making toys, or, at best, apps that are admirable in intent, but that don’t quite solve enterprise-grade problems.
This is a mistake.
Thanks to the rise in no-code technology—which, leveraged correctly, is a bit like open source on steroids, making it possible for entire new categories of people to be technologically creative—makers can utilize their DIY-skills to create tools and solutions of real enterprise value. These tools can in turn be leveraged to make enterprise companies more capable, efficient, and innovative in the process. They can create immense value. Meaningful technological creativity is no longer just the sport of developers.
Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.
Here’s an example of a workflow solution I help enterprise makers create with Tonkean all the time. It automates general legal intake with but a few actions, triggers, NLP, and integrations with their favorite SaaS applications that they live in daily. Though relatively easy to create, it allows the maker to be a hero across several departments, because email intake affects finance, HR, sales, legal, etc. It’s a tool to help alleviate pain for numerous employees. In my mind, it exemplifies a kind of baseline of what’s possible to make with the right kind of enterprise no code platform.
Step 1: Makers, draw it out.
The first step in creating a cross functional workflow solution of any sort is envisioning what it should look like and how it should flow in its ideal state. How should the solution work, generally?
Personally, at the very start of my creation processes, I use Tonkean as a visual flow. I map out what the ideal state of the workflow solution would be in a perfect world, and I worry about actually mapping all the fields and putting all the cosmetics into place later. The important thing at the beginning is to simply tell the story of what you’re trying to solve. To draw it out.
This process of exhuming the idea from your mind and getting the pieces out into the world will help you make sure it actually makes sense in practice, and that it doesn’t create any surprises or pain for the involved moving parts, such as your implicated systems, or, more importantly, the involved people.
Tonkean is a great tool for this purpose. The Tonkean Solutions team likes to describe the Tonkean platform as a “Visio/LucidChart” diagram that actually works. And the reason is it allows more tactile functionality than your standard flow builder. Most makers know what the ideal process or flow for their dream solution could look like. What they need is a tool that helps them move pieces around and get a sense for how to actually bring it to life.
This is so easy in Tonkean because the “construction” process for workflow building is really just a matter of clicking boxes and moving them around. We read everything left to right, so it’s easy to interpret the flow of the process, no matter who you are or what your technical skill-set is.
Step 2: Start putting it together.
Once you’ve got a feel for the flow of your solution in a theoretical state, start putting it together.
What does putting the solution together entail? First, it means making sure you have the right permissions and authentications set up behind the scenes; this will ensure you can effectively plug into all the apps and access all the data systems you’re attempting to plug into or get access to.
It’s always good to work with your IT team to this end. But don’t worry: it’s not too laborious or too big of an ask. In Tonkean, to create solutions, makers only ever need very specific levels of access; you’ll never need access to every object in Salesforce, for example—more likely, just the Cases object.
In the case of legal intake and your intake solution, let’s say the teams who’ll be touched by your solution use email, but manage inboxes via a tool like Smartsheets, for purposes of easier triaging. In that case, all you need for your solution to do is monitor an inbox, such that when a new email comes in, the solution automatically creates a new row in the Smartsheet. That’s easy (and unobtrusive) to create.
Ok, but how do you create a new inbox data source? In Tonkean, it takes two clicks. You can direct your email provider (in the provider’s settings) to forward emails to Tonkean—and then Tonkean will monitor all the emails sent to it. (Of course, you can filter as much as you need to, so Tonkean only grabs what you need it to grab, and nothing more.)
Send a few test emails. Once you do that and confirm everything’s working, it’s on to figuring out what keywords and phrases you’re looking to triage, so you can put those into the NLP action block.
Step 3: Define Makers’ actions.
Once you’ve configured the variations of NLP you want your solution to auto-handle, you’ll want to make sure you instruct Tonkean what to do with all the emails that don’t match. (Hint hint: this is where your solution should prompt a human to get involved, but fear not, you can make these human actions as frictionless as possible. Via your solution, in instances of solution-to-human interaction, makers can prompt Tonkean to do things like surface buttons detailing potential actions, which the human can simply click. Or better yet, you can ask the human on the other end what they want out of their interactions with your solution in an ideal world, and then you can create that for them in Tonkean!)
Ok, let’s say you’ve got that down. Now’s the time to define the actions you want to take on all these variations.
- Maybe you just auto-reply to tickets with a templated email. You can always continue to monitor that email if they reply back with more questions—at which point you’ll get a human involved.
- Maybe you want to return a form to the requestor, asking them for structured information. (You can then take that data and route it to the right team or system.)
- Or maybe you just want to transpose this email into a ticketing system of the teams’ choosing, fill in all the relevant metadata, and alert the team to take action in Slack, MS teams, or whatever platform they choose.
Really, the options are totally endless, and more importantly, they’re custom to you and your business. Within just a few boxes, you should be able to take 100% of the human manual effort out of the equation and let folks do what they’re paid to do: make important, high value decisions.
Step 4. Test, iterate, test, iterate.
Then test some more. At Tonkean, we try to encourage and instill engineering best practices among makers—even in such an easy no-code environment. This is why we’ve provided things like build-mode and sandboxes: for makers to utilize when stress testing all the variations of their process solution, and to in turn capture all those edge cases.
Using the native “Test” feature, along with a killer worker history logging tool, you should be able to identify all the fun nuances that come with integrating many systems and reaching out to people on many different platforms.
Step 5: Do it live!
Once you’re happy with the process, and you’ve adequately tested with your users, let’s push this thing live. By publishing first the module, and then the entire Solution, your superhero tool will be ready for use.
But don’t worry, there WILL be small changes to make. Or big changes! Processes evolve as peoples’ needs change, and we engineered the platform with these inevitable evolutions in mind, ensuring it’s easy to make changes to your solutions, when you need to. Case in point: if makers need to change anything on the NLP, add more conditions that need to be met before actions should begin firing, or if you need to remove some messages because they’re clogging up a Slack channel—that’s no problem. With a few clicks you can make such changes, quickly test, and publish the solution and boom—you’re done. And your maker superhero tool is back to work saving time, energy, and headache.