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Decision Trees for Business Processes – The Zingtree Task Manager Tool

Business Process Management with Zingtree

Overview

One of the more common, interesting uses for interactive decision trees is as an online task management tool for streamlining recurring business processes. These are standardized workflows that have a series of repeatable steps, which may need to involve handoffs to different people on a team or even in another department. For example, your company may have an approval process for:

  • making purchases
  • approving project budgets
  • hiring or firing employees
  • creating blog posts (like this one!)
  • and any other repetitive tasks or processes your business uses

The Zingtree Task Manager is a dashboard for guiding your coworkers through decision-tree-based processes created using the Zingtree tools.  This makes it easy for everyone to be held accountable, and to follow standard operating procedures.

Here’s a diagram of a simple purchasing process:

In this case, if the item is under $100, then the request is approved automatically. Otherwise, a manager needs to approve the order.

Set Up

Creating your first business process with interactive decision trees is not complicated. It involves these steps:

  1. Enter your “agents” – the people who act upon your processes – and assign them to groups.
  2. Create a decision tree, and assign each node (step of the process) to one of your Agent Groups.
  3. Assign your tree(s) to various Agent Groups. Only people in those groups will be allowed to start or kill a project.

This article has full details on how to set up your first business process.

The Task Manager

The Zingtree Task Manager was built with full-team functionality in mind. Anyone involved in a work process can use standardized decision tree workflows to navigate through the procedure. Certain steps can only be completed by specific people, and once you reach a step where it’s no longer your responsibility, that task is assigned to someone else.

This article has a video and full reference for the Zingtree Task Manager.

For example, in the procurement process diagrammed above, an employee creates the purchase request and a manager approves or declines it if over $100.

Here’s how the Task Manager could appear for an individual:

When someone Takes or Resumes a task, it looks like this:

Groups

Each person involved in a process (an “agent”) can belong to one or more groups. You can configure people and groups via Account > My Agents. So for example, a small team with two employees and one manager is set up like this:

Note that “Bill Zing” belongs to both the manager and employee groups.

When creating your process trees, you can tag each tree with the groups that are allowed to start the process.

Assigning Steps in the Process using Tags

Each node of your business process tree needs to include the Agent Group(s) allowed to act on that step of the process. You can see how our procurement process tree’s groups (outlined in red) are set up here:

 

The initial request step (node #1) is tagged with “employee”, so only people in the employee group can initiate a request. Node #6 – the Manager approval step – is tagged as “manager”, so only a manager can approve the purchase.

Assigning Agent Groups to a node is done using the Groups tab when editing a node. Here’s how node #1 is set up for an employee group:

 

Project Status: Success, Failure or In-Progress

At the end of a workflow, a project is either successful or a failure. When building your process tree, you can assign a result to each node in the node editor – like this:

Once a node is reached with a success or failure result, the process has ended.

Notifications

A notification can be sent when any node (process step) is reached so that the next person can be alerted and step in for their task. Notifications can be sent in a few different ways, including:

  • A text message
  • A simple email notification
  • A Slack notification
  • A customized email (using an email node)

Task Manager Operations

Your agents – people involved in your processes – can perform the following operations on each task:

  • Start: Begin a new task, and assign it a name.
  • Take: Take over the next step of a task. Only one person at a time can move a task to the next step.
  • Release: Release a task so another person can complete the step.
  • Resume: Continue with a task that you have previously taken.
  • Revisit: Go back to a previous step in the task you have permissions to act upon.
  • Reclaim: Take back a task from someone who has taken it.
  • Kill: End a task early, without following all the steps to completion.

Go here for a full reference on the Task Manager


Got questions about using Zingtree for streamlining your repetitive business processes? Reach out to our team!

Using Zingtree’s Task Manager for Your Business Processes

Business Process Management with Zingtree

Once you’ve been set up as an “agent”, you can log in and start using the Zingtree Task Manager. You can easily check for tasks that are awaiting your action, see other tasks of interest and revisit them.

Watch this video for a quick two-minute tour of Task Manager basics:

This video shows more advanced operations:

 

Task Manager Test Drive

Want to use Task Manager just like a real person?

Try a working version of the Task Manager here.

Operations Reference

Click on any operation below to learn how it works:

Opening the Task Manager

To start, open the task manager and log in from here.

The task manager appears like this:

Starting a New Project

  1. From Task Manager, click Start a New Project.

  2. Click the Start button next to a business process workflow. The Start New Project screen appears:

  3. Give the project a name, and click Start New Project.

You can now click through your task steps in the project.

Taking or Resuming a Task

The task manager shows you tasks which require your attention, under My Tasks Needing Action.

Click Take It to act upon the task. If you’ve already taken a task, you can click Resume to continue the task you’ve taken.

Releasing a Task

If you’ve previously taken a task, but now you want to let someone else in your group act upon it, you can Release it. In the above example, if you click Resume, your task screen will have the option to release the task via the orange Release Task button in the upper right:

Reclaiming a Task

If someone else has taken a task, and you want to act upon it and override them, you can use the Reclaim option. Here’s how to do it:

From Other Projects in Progress, click the info button to the right:

This opens the project info pop-over:

Click the Reclaim button to give yourself access to this task.

Killing a Project

Sometimes a task will get started, and it turned out to be a bad idea. Using the same process as above, you can click the red Kill button to kill a project.

Killed projects will appear under the Completed Projects tab in Task Manager.

Revisiting a Task

There may be times when you want to go back to a previous step in a project. For example, in the PC Purchase project, the manager may have declined a purchase and then changed her mind.

When a task is opened, the Task Progress accordion shows the steps taken previously. Click the brown Revisit button next to a step to go back to that part of the business process workflow.

Viewing the History of the Project

The Task Progress accordion also shows each step in the project, who acted upon it, and when (see above). You can get even more history by selecting Show Click Detail at the bottom of the Task progress area. This shows you EVERY operation on the project, not just the summary.

See more about our online task management tool for streamlining business processes

How to Setup Zingtree Decision Trees for Business Processes

Business Process Management with Zingtree

Getting your organization ready to use business process decision trees via the Zingtree Task Manager is relatively simple.

Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. Setup your organization to use the Task Manager.
  2. Create your “agents”, and assign them to one or more Agent Groups.
  3. Create your decision trees for the workflows your agents will follow.
  4. Assign decision trees to your Agent Groups.
  5. Assign the steps in your workflows to your Agent Groups.
  6. End the workflows with Success or Failure.

Setting Up Agents and Task Manager

To enable your organization top use Task Manager, start by going to Account > My Agents. Select Task Manager for agent logins, like this:

Next, you’ll need to add agent logins – one for each person who will be using the system. Click Add One New Agent, the enter the agent’s name, a login (usually their email), a password, and what groups they are assigned to, like this:

The groups will be used later to determine who is allowed to act on each step of the workflow. In the above example, Joe Smith is assigned to the employee group.

Assigning Decision Trees for Agent Groups

Each tree you create can be assigned to one or more groups. Any agent in the assigned group can start a new project using that tree as a business process workflow. This is done via the Settings tool.

For example, if we want Joe Smith to be able to run a procurement process decision tree, we would assign that tree to the employee group, as follows:

  1. Select the tree from My Trees.
  2. Open the Settings tool.
  3. Under the Groups tab, enter the group or groups to assign to this tree.

Here we entered the employee group:

Be sure to click Update All Settings when finished!

Assigning Nodes to Agent groups

Each step in the business process workflow corresponds to a node in your decision tree. And just like trees, you can assign nodes to agent groups. This has the effect that only agents in that group can act upon a specific node.

Here’s how to assign a group or groups to a node:

  1. Edit the node.
  2. Go to the Groups tab, and enter the group or groups that are allowed to act on this node.

It will look like this:

Click Save Changes when finished.

Now, repeat this for the other nodes in your tree.

Setting Endpoints

A project ends when you reach a node that has a “success” or “failure” result on it. You can set the result of the node as follows:

  1. Edit the node.
  2. Set the Result to Success or Failure, from here:

Handy Tips

Tip #1: The name of the current task can be used as a variable in your tree. Just enter #task_name# where you want the name of the task to appear.

Tip #2: You can see the results and the groups for every node in a tree from the Simple Overview tool. Here’s a procurement tree with the Results and Groups highlighted:

Tip #3: For all your trees, you can see the Agent Groups allowed to start a project via My Trees. Like this:

See more about our online task management tool for streamlining business processes