Fine Tune Your Business Processes with SuiteFlow

One organization's business processes and workflows are rarely a perfect fit for another. It's an inescapable fact of an administrator or developer's life that every company has a slightly different way of doing just about everything. Knowing how to quickly and cleanly edit and extend workflows needs to be a fundamental skill for any NetSuite administrator or developer.

It is for this reason that NetSuite created SuiteFlow, a workflow management tool for tweaking and customizing out-of-the-box business processes and custom workflows.

SuiteFlow is a graphical point-and-click tool that speeds application customization, thus enabling businesses to quickly adapt their business processes to their real-time requirements. It's based on SuiteScript technology, but you don't have to know how to write code in order to use SuiteFlow. Here are six helpful tips for getting maximum benefits from SuiteFlow.

Customize business processes faster with visual aids. SuiteFlow is ideal for adding things such as an approval or requiring data validation when new data is entered. For instance, an expense report might require a manager's approval before it can go to accounting, or need an extra data validation step to guard against errors. Using SuiteFlow, even non-technical employees can modify business processes and add the necessary steps to make it conform to corporate policy.

Boost system performance. SuiteFlow has a Context multi-select that can be used to stipulate the conditions under which an action should execute. For instance, if someone creates a customer record, the workflow used to do it might also send an email to the sales rep, or print a copy for the rep's files. However, if someone is importing a batch of 100,000 customer records using a CSV import tool, you may not want the workflow to automatically print or generate an email for all 100,000.  SuiteFlow provides a Context multi-select field that can be used to stipulate the conditions under which an action should or should not happen. This feature helps reduce unnecessary workload on the servers and network.

Save time. The workflow condition builder is also useful in making an individual workflow useful for multiple situations. For instance, instead of constructing ten different workflows for submitting expense reports to different corporate department heads, it could use one workflow with multi-select conditions for 10 different management approvers. The workflow would select the right approver name based on department or other clue.

Trouble shoot problems faster. The logging tool in SuiteFlow has been updated in Version 2013 Release 2 to include more detail such as events triggered, action parameters and the results of condition evaluations. Even when the logging is disabled, such as when a process or application is moving from development to production, all errors are still logged to provide information on workflow execution. Business analysts as well as developers can troubleshoot with log viewer.

Build reusable workflows.Using SuiteFlow, you can create individual workflows that can be reused when needed. That means you can avoid making one huge workflow with duplicate processes, like in the days of mainframes and spaghetti code programs. Like object-oriented programming, workflow components can be mixed and matched, and one workflow component can be used by several other workflow actions and record types.

Learn more. Anyone who works with SuiteFlow should consider taking NetSuite's two-day training classes: Workflow Fundamentals and Advanced Workflows. Administrators and business analysts with little familiarity with SuiteFlow should register for the Fundamentals course, while developers and others with some knowledge of workflows will benefit from the advanced class. Contact Kerman Camacho, your NetSuite Education Advisor, for help with matching the right training to your needs and enrolling in classes.

Next month: How SuiteScript adds programming power to SuiteFlow

-Bruce Tanenholtz, Program Manager of Technical Curriculum, NetSuite

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