Most practice management programs have the ability to use workflows, including Clio. Though Clio doesn't use the term workflow, and it may not be obvious to new users. Clio has tasks and tasks can be organized into templates called Task Lists. The thing that ties it all together into a workflow is task dependencies.
Let's say you always have a list of things to do upon obtaining a new client. And maybe some of those items need to be done in a particular sequence. Instead of creating the same tasks each time you obtain a client, you can create a Clio Task List once and use over and over. You will save time and won't accidently forget to include all items. You may be thinking that you don't need to this if you are already using a spreadsheet as a checklist. There are two issues with spreadsheets: the first is that it is much easier for staff to see the tasks when they pull of the matter in Clio and the second is that the spreadsheet won't automatically assign dates to your tasks.
To create a list, you need to click on Tasks in the main menu across the top of the screen. You will then see a submenu of Upcoming, Completed, Lists and Feeds. Click on Lists, then click the green Add button to the right.
An Add List Template popup box will appear. Name it, enter a description and set a practice area if so desired. Then click the green Save List Template button.
This will act as the container for your task list, and you'll be brought to a screen containing any lists you've created. Now it's time to add the individual tasks to the task list. Click on the name of the task, not the edit link. (The edit link is to change the name, description or practice area of the list.)
After clicking on a task list name, a new page will appear with a green Add button to the right. Clicking the button will trigger another popup box where you add the task name, description, assignee, and priority.
Now to the essence of the workflow. You can choose to set a due date, or not, and the date can have a dependency. For the first task you enter, the only dependency possible is the assignment date. For each task created thereafter, the due date can be dependent on the assignment date or another task in the list. You can choose the number of days before or after the assignment date or task due date. (I suppose if you're a psychic, you can take advantage of the ability to set a task to be due before it's even assigned.) As far as choosing the number of days, your choices are calendar days, business days, calendar weeks, calendar months or calendar years.
To use an example, when a client retains me to obtain a loan modification, I always send out a Request for Information (RFI) to the mortgage servicer asking for information about the mortgage. By law, they must send an acknowledgment within five days. So, in this case, I would set my first task in the list to be "Send RFI" and I may set the due date to be one day after the assignment date. I would then set the second task to be "Check if acknowledgment arrived" for five days after the Send RFI task. In my practice, I have a whole sequence of tasks that all depend on the Send RFI date. In other lists, my tasks depend on a combination of the assignment date and task dates.
One item of note is that all of the dependency dates in Clio rely on due dates, not the date the task was actually completed. So if you have a task dependent upon on a prior task being completed (rather than the original due date) you're dates are going to be off if you complete the task before or after the expected due date. I haven't been able to figure out a workaround for this situation, and if any readers have one, please contact me.
When creating an individual task in a list, you have the option to choose a default assignee for each task if you have more than one person involved in completing the list. At the time you assign the whole list to someone, you have the option to override the individual assignments and assign everything to the list assignee.
For individual tasks, you can choose to be reminded via email or popup in the web app, and you're allowed to set more than one reminder. Your options are to be reminded before or after the item, and you can choose the number of minutes, hours, days or weeks to be reminded before or after the due date. It would be nice if you could choose the time of day to be reminded rather than number of minutes or hours before or after the task is due since tasks can only be assigned a date and not time of day.
The bottom line is that if you have a list of tasks that you need repeated in many of your cases, you should be creating task lists both for expediency and to make sure you don't miss any. Other practice management software have similar features and I'll show you how to create workflows in other programs in future posts.
You can find Clio's help files for task lists here.