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How to Use a Single Slack Bot to Craft Powerful Slack Workflows

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An increasingly popular enterprise collaboration tool, Slack offers business the opportunity to make internal communication quick and painless. But if you’re not using Slack as a workflow hub — a central place from which to do work across your apps — you’re not using it to its fullest potential. If you’re new to Slack, integration, or chatbots, however, you might not know where to start. Here are three things to consider when building your own Slack workflows.

  1. What apps do you want to connect and why?

It’s no secret that cloud apps all have their individual strengths and specialties. Salesforce is an excellent CRM; Workday is a world-class HR app; Shopify is a leader in eCommerce. And Slack is the world’s leading enterprise collaboration platform. But combining these programs into a cohesive workflow is what unleashes their true power. And what better workflow hub than the chat app you use all day, every day?

When you designate one app as your hub and complete your work without leaving that hub (by using a bot to fetch information and execute tasks in other apps), you can be truly productive.

But before you get started, you need to think about what your primary aim is. Do you want to view daily sales reports? Do you want to approve time fof requests? What are all of the apps you need to move data between or execute actions in? And who needs to be notified — a single person or a group? Will you need to create a dedicated channel? These questions will help you map out your business logic, which is key to constructing a robust Slack workflow

2. What’s your level of chatbot experience?

Technology should make your life easier, and Slack workflows can absolutely simplify some complex tasks into a few keystrokes or clicks of the mouse. The key is to choose a thoughtfully-designed Slackbot — one that’s built to complement the way humans work. You shouldn’t have to be a developer to create powerful Slack workflows. At the same time, developers should be able to easily extend a bot’s capabilities through code.

We kept this principle in mind when creating Workbot, our customizable Slackbot that you can use to get work done between cloud apps. We intentionally chose to integrate Natural Language Processing (NLP), so you don’t have to remember specific formal commands; Workbot will respond to everyday phrases, like “check Salesforce leads” or “show me my Zendesk tickets.”

But bot commands are just the surface; to build great Slack workflows, you need a bot that is easily configurable, so it does exactly what you want it to do when issued a command.

For example, we built Workbot to run on our integration and automation platform, Workato. We call our integrations recipes, because they’re plain English instructions that get work done between apps and databases. A recipe begins with a trigger, something that gets the ball rolling — whether that’s a new support ticket or a converted lead. The recipe then executes a series of Actions based on what you want to accomplish, like triaging the ticket or automatically sending a welcome email. Together, you can use recipes to construct comprehensive Slack workflows without needing to code.

At the same time, Workato is extensible and therefore Workbot is too. Developers can program Workbot to do exactly what they need it to without starting from scratch.

3. What security provisions do you need?

Any time you connect apps to another program, you need to think about security. Approving expense reports from Slack is handy and simply — unless you accidentally give the wrong people access to complete that action. No matter the workflow, you need to make sure that your information and processes are secure.

The Slackbot you’re working with needs to be enterprise-grade and handle permissions and access in a special way in order for the bot to be secure. If your Slack workflows involve approval — such as time off requests, expense reports, or sales discounts — you’ll want to make sure that there’s a way to authenticate the user’s permission to approve a request.

For example, Workbot uses a patented technology called Verified User Access (VUA) to ensure that only the right people can respond to requests. The VUA feature requires you to log into the app you are trying to take action in the first time you attempt to “approve” or “reject.” This ensures that only the managers who are authorized to approve or reject these requests have the ability to do so. Verified User Access allows you to take actions inside of other apps — like NetSuite, for example — from Slack but requires that you authenticate by signing into your NetSuite account so that it can check if you have clearance.

From there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to creating powerful, customized Slack workflows for your every need!

magnoliaHow to Use a Single Slack Bot to Craft Powerful Slack Workflows

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