Design Blueprint | Online Help - Zoho CRM

Designing a Blueprint

Building a process is largely a 3-step procedure. 

  1. Enter Basic Info:
    Specify the  module layout  and  field  for which the process should be created.
  2. Define the Process Flow: 
    In the  Blueprint Editor , define the process flow right from the  Starting or the Default State  (whichever applicable) through to the  Exit State .
  3. Configure Transition Settings: 
    Configure  Before During  and  After  Transition settings between different States in the process as required. 

Step 1 - Enter Basic Information

  1. Go to  Setup  >  Automation  >  Blueprint .
  2. Click  Create Blueprint .
  3. In the  Create Blueprint  popup, choose the module, layout and field for which the process is being created.

    In our scenario, since the process is Deal Follow-up, let us choose the  Deals  module,  Standard  layout and  Stage  field.
  4. Specify criteria for records to enter a process, if applicable. Example, Amount is >= 50000.
    If you don’t enter criteria, all records created in the layout will enter the process. Click  Next .

  • Under  Advanced Configuration , you can create a continuous Blueprint. A Continuous Blueprint is one that occurs without a pause - ideal for Sales Call Scripting.
  • The primary field of the Blueprint can be updated via
    • Transition API
    • Workflow API 
    • Custom Functions in Workflows. 
    Aside from these three ways, there are no other channels via which the primary field of the Blueprint can be updated.  

Step 2 - Define the Process Flow in the Blueprint Editor

  1. In  Blueprint Editor , drag and drop all the States (stages) that form a part of the process.
  2. Establish the process flow between the States by connecting the nodes in the  State buttons .

    Note that the  Start  State is the equivalent of " None " value of the chosen picklist field. 
  3. Create Transitions by clicking on the  +  button between two States.
    (To delete a transition, simply  Right Click  on the transition line and click  Remove Transition )

What does the above process flow mean?

This is a pictorial representation of the Deal Follow-up process followed in Zylker Inc. Deals entering this process will go through every stage in the order seen in the picture.

  1. The white buttons represent States in the Blueprint (Deal Stages).
  2. The green buttons represent Transitions (Conditions required to complete each stage).
  3. Each Transition you configure is displayed as a button on the record's details page.

  4. To complete a Transition, click on the Transition button and execute the actions mentioned in the ensuing popup window.
  5. Example, clicking on  Qualify  will throw up a popup window, which will guide you in executing this Transition.
  6. On successful completion of the Transition, you will move to the next State in the Blueprint.
  7. The blue button Deal Lost is called a  Common Transition  and will appear at all States of the Blueprint.
  • Click here   to see more sample process flows from various sectors such as Education, Real Estate, Insurance.

Step 3 - Configure Transition Settings

“Transition” refers to the change of state in a process. It is the connecting link between two States, where the conditions for the change are clearly defined. A Transition is made up of three parts -  Before During  and  After .

For example, let's look at the Transition between the States -  Qualified  and  Negotiation Done.  Let's name this " Negotiate ". In Zylker's example, following are some guidelines to be observed while configuring the Transition settings in this scenario.
Note : The length of the transition's name can be upto 50 characters. 

  • In order to complete the Negotiation Transition, a sales rep in Zylker must enter the  Discount  percentage and the  Closing Date.
  • As per Zylker's policy, discount for a product cannot be greater than 25%.
  • As soon as the  Negotiate  transition is executed, an email notification must be automated to the sales rep's manager informing him/her about the deal submission.

Let's see how we can accommodate all of these points in the Blueprint.

Before Transition

  • Specify  people  responsible to execute a Transition, CRM or portal users.
    Example, Record Owner. When you choose Record Owner, only the Record Owner (and those above the record owner in the role hierarchy) will be able to view the Transition.
  • Define  criteria  that dictates exactly when this Transition should be available for the records in a process. 
    Example criteria: "Product Demo is Completed".
    In this case, the Transition will be shown to records only when the  Product Demo  field is updated to  Completed
    If you have no such conditions, you can skip the criteria section. In such a case, the Transition will be visible on all records right away. 

During Transition

This section guides the Transition owners in completing a particular stage in a process by prompting them to enter specific fields, notes, attachments and other information contextually. For example, in the deal follow-up process, sales reps may be required to enter the discount percent, notes and attach a few sales documents according to the organization's policy. In such a case, all these details can be mandated in the  During Transition  section of the  Negotiation  Transition.

Following are the details that you can mandate in the During Transition section:
  • Mandate and validate fields from the primary module and related modules, including multi-select lookup and multi-user fields. 
  • Include checklists
  • Mandate Associated Items
  • Add a message to Transition owners
  • Make notes mandatory
  • Make attachments mandatory
  • Make tags mandatory 
  • Add Widgets 
  1. For during transitions extended to portal users, modules like Activity and Solutions, as well as attachments, tags, owner and user lookup fields, which are not compatible with portals, will not be visible to them, regardless of their presence in the blueprint transition process.
  2. Portal users won't be supported blueprints inside sandbox.
Mandate and validate fields across modules
You can guide your sales reps to enter information required as part of your process by mandating fields at the appropriate stages. These could be fields from the primary Blueprint module or related modules. For example, in the Negotiation stage of the Deal follow-up process, you can mandate the following fields:
    • Deal Discount
    • Related Account Name
    • Annual Revenue of the Account
    • Contact person's title and phone

    To mandate fields of the Blueprint module and related modules

    1. In the  During Transition  tab, click  Add .
    2. Choose the required module from the drop-down list.
    3. Select the field to be mandated.
      Repeat this action for the number of fields required.

To mandate fields of the Blueprint module and related modules

  1. In the  During Transition  tab, click  Add .
  2. Choose the required module from the drop-down list.
  3. Select the field to be mandated.
    Repeat this action for the number of fields required.

    You can also mandate MxN and MxU fields as part of the Blueprint. That is, multi-select lookup fields as well as multi-user fields   along with Single User lookup. 
    However, note that you cannot validate them. 
  4. Validate fields to ensure that your sales teams enter acceptable values.
    • Example: Discount cannot be greater than 20%
    • Closing date cannot exceed 30 days.
Include checklists
Checklists are nothing but To-do items to help your sales teams keep a clear track of the number of tasks and items they must complete in order to get through each stage of a process. This helps you better streamline every tiny step that you take towards executing a stage so that you never miss what’s important at the moment.

Checklist will be part of your During Transition, which, when configured by the manager or the process architect, will be shown to the eligible transition owners.

For example, in our Deal follow-up process, the following items could be part of a  Negotiation Transition  Checklist.

  • Finalize discount percent
  • Attach Negotiation documents as mandated
  • Check competitor's discounts

To mandate checklists

  1. In the  During Transition  tab, click  Add .
  2. Select  Checklist .
  3. Add a title for the checklist and the list of To-do items.

    This will be displayed to the selected Transition owners. Only when the Transition owner "checks off" these items from the list, will he/she be able to proceed to the next State in the Blueprint. This gives you a solid, clear picture of progress of each stage. 
Mandate the Creation of Associated Items
Apart from fields and checklists, you can mandate the creation of items associated to the Blueprint module as listed below:
  • Tasks
  • Meetings 
  • Calls
  • Quotes
  • Sales Orders
  • Cases

For example, once the discount has been approved and the deal is in the Contract stage, you may want the sales reps to associate the Quote and schedule a call with the customer to proceed with the legal requirements. So here, you can mandate Task creation and PO association.

This will be contextual and guide the sales teams in breaking down a possibly overwhelming process into smaller pieces and doable action items.

To mandate the creation of associated items

  1. In the  During Transition  tab, click  Add .
  2. Select  Associated Items .
  3. Choose from the  Associated Items  dropdown list: Tasks and Quote.

Add a message to Transition owners
There's nothing like clear instructions to sales teams to make sure they execute a process efficiently. Include messages to sales teams at each stage, so that every Transition owner knows what's expected of him/her.

To add a message to the Transition owners

  1. In the  During Transition  tab, click  Add .
  2. Select  Message.
  3. Write a suitable message in the text box.

Make notes mandatory
You may want to know additional details about various aspects of a process, such as why a sales rep entered a particular discount, why a particular task is pending and so on. These additional details could be added as notes - and these notes could also be mandated in the During Transition stage of a process.

To make notes mandatory

  1. In the  During Transition  tab, select the  Make Notes as Mandatory  checkbox.

    So here, while executing the  Qualify  transition, the transition owner will be required to enter details of the customer requirements as notes, as outlined in the message.
Make attachments mandatory
Any process, be it sales, insurance, manufacturing or real estate - any business process for that matter brings with it the need for several documents. Sales contracts, Service Level Agreements, Legal Documents and so on are required at different stages of a process. You can mandate them at the required stage in a Blueprint.

To make attachments mandatory

  1. In the  During Transition  tab, select the  Make Attachment as Mandatory  checkbox.

    So here, while executing the  Negotiate  transition, the transition owner will be required to attach the documents as mandated in the checklist.

    You can reorder the items to be displayed in the popup window by using the UP and DOWN arrows. You can also make use of merge fields to display data from CRM on the screen.
Make Tags Mandatory 
As part of the During Transition settings, you can also mandate tags to be entered.
When a user performs this transition, they will be prompted to enter a value for tags, as part of the Blueprint. 
Add Widgets
You can also mandate widgets as part of the During Transition settings in Blueprint.  

By mandating a widget, you can define your own parameters that need to be entered as part of the process. Not just fields and notes but completely beyond the standard pieces of CRM data. You can mandate location on a map. Or a calendar appointment.

This, in addition to your own fields and notes, as defined by the widget's functions. 
Here's an example of widgets that are mandated as part of a Blueprint:

Available from the Enterprise Edition onwards

After Transition 

Define actions to be automated after the Transition. Actions that can be automated in the After Transition section are:

  • Send email notification
  • Assign tasks
  • Create a meeting
  • Schedule a call
  • Update fields
  • Create a record
  • Trigger webhooks
  • Trigger custom functions
  • Add tags
  • Convert Record (Applicable for the Leads and Quotes modules) 

In Zylker's example, an email notification must be automated to the Sales Manager regarding a deal submitted for discount approval. So, choose Email Alerts and associate the required email template.

In a similar manner, you can build conditions for each Transition until the end of the process.

Common Transition

A Common Transition is a Transition that can be executed from all States in a process. 

For example, in a Deal follow-up process, you typically know if you have won or lost a deal after the record goes through several stages such as qualification, negotiation, discount approval and so on. So  Deal Lost is a Transition that is available only towards the end of the process. But assume that a customer shows no interest and you want to drop a deal at the Qualification stage itself. In such a case, you must be able to execute the  Deal Lost  Transition right then - rather than go through all the intermediary stages. 

To make this possible, you must make  Deal Lost a Common Transition by selecting the checkbox as seen in the following image. Once you do, you will see the  Deal Lost  Transition in all states. 

Automatic transitions

Automatic transitions have been introduced in Blueprints, to help you combat process delays. Often, a record that traverses through a process tends to stagnate in a particular state and you may not even realise it. This causes unwarranted delays. One thing you can certainly do is set an SLA for the state and be notified whenever there's an escalation.

But ultimately, SLA is also a notification or a task/field update of sorts— the record at the end of the day, needs your manual intervention in order to progress further in the process. If you only want to be notified of escalations, you may configure SLAs. On the other hand, if you want the system to act and automatically move a record from one state to another at any point, you can now create automatic transitions.

So what are automatic transitions and how do they work?
An automatic transition is one in which a record in a Blueprint automatically moves from one state to another, after a specified "Wait" time has elapsed.
As per the process, in order for a record to go from State A to State B, you will have to perform a Transition A. If this Transition A has not been executed within a said time period, say, 5 days, then the Automatic Transition configured for that state will get executed and the record will be pushed forward automatically to another state in the Blueprint as per the configuration.

For instance, in the following screenshot, CRM will wait for one of the transitions to take place: Either "Confirm Interest" or "Drop deal". If no action is taken on this record until a said date, the record will be moved to the "Price Quote" stage automatically and the users can take it up from there.

To configure an automatic transition

Select the  Automatic Transition  checkbox as you create a regular transition.

Then, mention a  "Wait time"  and corresponding automated actions.

According to the following screenshot, the deal follow-up process flow has a handful of major steps to be performed before a price quote can be drafted — namely, Contact establishment, qualification, needs analysis and value proposition. If a particular deal has moved to the "Contacted" stage but the user has not taken the action required for Qualification, Blueprint will wait for 5 days and directly move it to the "Id.Decision Makers" state. From there the user concerned can take over drafting a price quote.

A price quote cannot be created without knowing requirements, contact details etc, so there the action items from previous states can also be done altogether at this point, without wasting any more time.      

Same-state looping

A process often contains steps which you have to attempt multiple times for it to be successful. A typical example would be an attempt to contact a customer. In order to gather their requirements you will have to call them. But often they may be unavailable or may ask you to call later. Unless you speak to them you cannot go to the next stage, so you have to stay in the same State until they answer. However your staying in the same state doesn't also mean you did not do your job — you just have to try multiple times until you are successful.

In such cases, you can now create a transition that "loops back" to the same stage. The From and To state is the same. For example, in the following deal follow-up process, you can use the "Retry contacting" transition infinite number of times, until you are successful in which case you will select Customer Available and progress further.

Organizing and color-coding transitions

Blueprints exist to improve the efficiency of your company's processes and ensure compliance — but only if your users follow them promptly. More often than not, your users may find it challenging to adopt your processes and follow through on them, especially when they are complex. You may find that many transitions are yet to be executed and records get stagnated at different stages. One of the many reasons could be that your users find it hard to navigate the UI and are sometimes unsure of which transitions to execute. So here, we bring to you a couple of improvements in that department. You can address this challenge by reordering and setting color codes for Transitions in Blueprint. This will be useful in organizing transition buttons on the record detail page based on your process needs.

Color code your transitions

Consider that there are several transitions emerging out from a specific state in a process. They are all currently displayed in a particular color and order. What if there's more than a handful of transitions, which may yield positive and negative outcomes. For example, a deal currently in the "Negotiation" stage could emerge out to be approved, rejected, on hold, reassigned and so on.

For a sales rep looking at these transition buttons, it could be overwhelming or confusing as to what possibilities there are for the record at that stage in the process.

So, instead of all the transitions being a default blue, if the "Approve" transition could be displayed in green, and "Reject" transition could be in red while "On hold", "Reassign" could be in orange — this color coding could give the sales rep a quick sense of possibilities and outcomes from the stage.

How it works

While configuring your Blueprint Transitions, you will now have an option to choose from a color palette, the specific colors you would like for that particular transition.

As you build your transitions, you could also define their color codes, so that it enhances your sales reps' user experience and improve the adoption of your processes.

2) Reorder your transition buttons

You can also reorder transitions to decide the order in which they appear on the detail page.
Simply head over to the specific State for which you want to order the transition buttons. Hover over that state and click the Reorder Transitions icon.

  1. The Reorder Transition icon appears only for States that have more than one transition.
  2. This color-coding and reordering has no interference whatsoever with Canvas, as the Blueprint widget is a single unit in an overall Canvas editor. While you can move around the Blueprint widget in Canvas, you cannot edit within the widget. For that, you can make use of the color and order preference of Transitions within Blueprint itself.

Configure SLAs for States 

When you put a process in place in your organization, you need to ensure that it also gets done on time. SLAs help you do exactly that. "SLA" stands for Service Level Agreement - and is usually understood in the context of a service provider and customer. This term in Blueprint stands for an agreement of sorts between teams within an organization to communicate the maximum time a sales rep/team can keep a particular record in a said state. For example, if a deal is the "Qualification" stage for too long, the sales manager or the record owner must be notified of this. But how long is too long? If it does stay in a State for too long, who should be notified and what should be done about it? These details can be configured as part of the Blueprint via SLAs. When you configure an SLA, CRM watches the records and how long each record is in a particular state. If it exceeds the time limit mentioned, the system will send alerts as configured to the users mentioned in the SLA settings. This helps you be transparent with the progress of a process across your organization and get things done on time. 

To configure SLA for a State 
  1. In your Blueprint Editor, click the State for which you wish to configure the SLA. Example,   Negotiation/Review.                       
  2. Set the maximum time limit for which the deal can be in the Negotiation State. Example, 5 Days. 
  3. When the deal exceeds the SLA time limit, specify who should be notified and when. 
    Example, escalate on the 5th day to the record owner. 
  4. In addition to this standard notification ON escalation, you can set an additional alert to be sent before or after the SLA time limit. 

For example, notify the record owner about the SLA time limit 2 hours before the limit expires.

This will help you take prompt action before it's too late.
You can also select further user-defined SLA actions to be automated apart from the standard alerts.
These user-defined SLA actions include custom email notifications, tasks, field updates, webhooks and custom actions. 

For example, let's say that as per your process, you want to be alerted whenever a record has stayed in the Negotiation State for more than 5 days. For this, apart from the default email alert you can choose to automate a field update where a field called "Urgency" gets updated from "Mild" to "Severe" whenever a record has stayed in the Negotiation state for more than 5 days. Later you can filter out records for which the urgency is severe and prioritise their transitions first.

User defined SLA Actions are available from the Enterprise Edition onwards  

Reordering Blueprints

Create Blueprint in Sandbox

While formulating a blueprint for your sales process, there are chances that it has to be frequently modified to find the right one. Zoho CRM provides a testing environment called Sandbox for you to check how your blueprint works, without affecting the live data.
See also Sandbox

Sample Process Flows

In the following slide deck, you will find sample process flows for business from various sectors such as Education, Real Estate, Insurance, Banking and Finance. These are generic process flows meant to give you the perspective you need to start designing your own Blueprints. You can tweak the States, Tranistions and flow based on your unique needs. Start browsing the gallery now!

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