Organizations that want to build simple applications in Slack to kick off processes or collect data can up their game with the use of a new capability--Slack Workflow Builder. Released last month, Workflow Builder gives companies a way to build simple applications without writing any code. For IT organizations, this no-code approach means they can empower users with the Workspace Owner role to build workflows that step end users through a set of tasks. For example, a company could put together a set of tasks that help onboard new employees by to acclimating them to the corporate culture and using Slack as a collaborative tool.
The core elements behind Slack Workflow Builder--triggers, forms, messages and a workflow menu--are the means by which non-programmers build and deliver applications. Essentially, users can create two types of applications: trigger-based and form-based. The builder provides a simple, wizard-driven tool that steps the developer through building the workflow. Triggers and forms kick off workflow mechanism, while messages, emojis and forms provide the interactivity and guidance through the workflow for the users.
As an example, you can build a workflow that is triggered by a user joining a channel. This trigger would then send a message to the new user that might include links to important documents or policies related to the channel. The trigger could also present the user with a form to complete. Adding more steps is as simple as clicking on the "add step" button and specifying the parameters of a new form or trigger.
The workflow menu allows a Workplace Owner or Administrator to create an application that is driven by a form, as well. For example, a company could build a simple travel request form application that collects basic information and messages it to an admin or travel manager channel to process the request. The message sent to the person booking the travel includes an emoji- or button-based trigger. Clicking that object would then initiate another step, such as escalating approval for reservations over $1,000 or sending a notification back to the requester that travel reservations have been booked.
Companies should look at this as a way to streamline processes that don’t require complex processing but do require notifications, ownership and simple approvals. Managers can miss email-based notifications about approving travel or small purchases, or they put them off because they involve clicking links and going to other systems. Building these simple apps, with approvals that can be audited, gives companies a way to speed up completing mundane tasks.
Slack Workflow Builder does allow workspace end users, owners and admins to collaborate on building a workflow app provided they have Workflow Builder access and permissions. Organizations running Enterprise Grid can set an organization-wide policy to control access or allow Workspace Owners and Admins to manage access at the workspace level.
Users can’t build complex forms in Slack Workflow Builder, as the form builder supports only up to 10 fields. Furthermore, the workflows are, in fact, workflows, not processes. This means workflows are linear in nature and not controllable through user-friendly business rules. Companies will still need to do some development if they want to send information captured in forms to third-party applications via the messaging API.