7 Ways to Use Dynamic Due Dates For Enhanced Process Flexibility

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You’ve just closed a major deal.

It’s taken months of hard work to successfully convey the value of your product and negotiate a solid agreement. The sales team are pumped, managers have a big smile on their faces, and the customer success team are readying themselves to take on a high-value customer.

Ensuring a smooth handoff from the account executive (AE) to the relevant customer success manager (CSM) is now the priority. This critical process cannot be overlooked if you are hoping to build a trusting, long-term relationship that keeps both parties happy.

There are numerous tasks that need to be completed during the handoff, and they must be done efficiently or the customer could get the wrong impression.

What are dynamic due dates?

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Everyone has deadlines. At some point, we all experience what it feels like to be stalked by a due date pushing us to reach the finish line for a particular task or project.

In the example I described above, it’s imperative that the CSM not only knows the right moment to come in and begin the onboarding process, but also when to complete tasks for which the due date is dependant on a prior action.

Setting a static due date for the completion of a handoff doesn’t quite cut it because there are specific tasks that need to be completed within quick succession of each other, and some that need to be completed a certain number of days after a certain activity.

That’s where dynamic due dates come in. Simply put, they enable you to automatically adjust a task’s due date based on actions taken throughout the progression of various tasks involved in a process.

So, for example, if you’d like the AE who closed the deal to post links to all relevant calls, emails, and notes in your CRM within 1 day of the contract sign date, you can set that due date as easily as creating a new checklist in Process Street.

Process flexibility is the key to execution

The whole idea behind dynamic due dates is to make your processes more flexible. How things get done in reality will always be more complex and nuanced than a list of 50 tasks getting checked off one by one in regular sequence.

Nevertheless, while a checklist cannot perfectly encompass every aspect of what needs to be done, when and by who, to consistently complete a process on time, it can get pretty close.

Features like conditional logic and dynamic due dates provide a deeper level of flexibility that is transforming how much value you can extract from accurately documenting processes.

We wrote an article on process flexibility a few months ago, which I’m going to use a foundation for explaining the value of dynamic due dates, along with a number of powerful use cases that may just get you thinking about what kind of impact this feature could have on how efficiently your processes get executed.

The main approaches to process flexibility

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According to a research paper by Schonenberg et al., Process Flexibility: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches, there are 4 main approaches to process flexibility:

  • Flexibility by design – The ability to incorporate alternative execution paths during the design of a process, allowing the selection of the most appropriate execution path when the process is run. This is most suitable for situations wherein the flow of a process depends on real-time variables.
  • Flexibility by deviation – The ability for a process instance to deviate at runtime from the execution path prescribed by the original process without altering its process model. This is most suitable for processes in which tasks may need to be completed in various different orders.
  • Flexibility by underspecification – The ability to execute an incomplete process model at run-time, i.e., one which does not contain sufficient information to allow it to be executed to completion. This is most suitable for complex processes that are unpredictable and highly prone to variation.
  • Flexibility by change – The ability to modify a process model at runtime such that one or all of the currently executing process instances are migrated to a new process model. This approach lies separate to the other three in the sense that it is broad and applies equally to all kinds of processes. It really comes down to building a process that can be and is refined over time to improve execution.

Which approach applies to dynamic due dates?

Dynamic due dates are set up when you are designing a process, specifically a Process Street checklist. In the case that real-time variables influence the due dates of various tasks, dynamic due dates can be implemented. Therefore, it is the flexibility by design approach that applies to this feature.

Why is this important?

Beyond the benefit of classifying it against a defined set of approaches to process flexibility, it helps you better understand when it is most appropriate to use the feature, particularly when thinking about how it can be applied to various business processes run in your team or organization.

What are dynamic due dates in Process Street?

Dynamic due dates let you easily adjust a task’s due date based on a varying factor unique to each checklist, like a date field or a task that has yet to be completed.

You can set dynamic due dates based off 4 different triggers:

  • Any date form field
  • The completion of a previous task
  • The checklist due date
  • The checklist created date (available on free and business plans)

Note: Dynamic due dates are a business pro feature only.

7 ways to use dynamic due dates

1. Employee onboarding

Use case: Manager of a new hire is expected to assign training material within 2 days of granting the employee access to all of the software tools they need.

Let’s say you are employing a new marketing coordinator. Task number 6 in the employee onboarding checklist requires you to grant the new hire access to all of the software tools they need. Task 14 in the checklist is titled “Assign training material”. You have determined that you would like the employee’s manager to assign the training material within 2 days of granting them access to the software tools.

To set this up, you would follow the simple process described in the how-to section at the end of the post, selecting “2 days”, “after” and the specific task “Give access to any tools they need”.

2. Sales training

Use case: A new sales rep is expected to deliver a full practice demo of the product within 5 days of presenting the sales pitch.

This use case is relatively similar to the previous example.

There are various key steps that need to be completed in order to successfully train a new sales rep. One of the most important aspects, at least in my opinion, is having them deliver a full demo of the product to 5-10 colleagues about a week after they have got a good grip of the high-level sales pitch. This puts them in a high-pressure situation, providing an opportunity to build their confidence and showcase their product knowledge to other team members.

To set up this dynamic due date, you would go to task 15 of the sales training process, and follow the procedure described in the previous use case, selecting task 7 (Presentation of product) as the trigger task.

3. Sales to service handoff

Use case: The AE who closed the deal is expected to add links to all relevant calls, emails and notes to the customers CRM profile within 1 day of the contract sign date.

This example goes back to the situation I illustrated in the first few paragraphs of the article. An AE has just closed a deal, and now it’s all about ensuring a smooth handoff to a CSM. No time to waste! As part of the handoff, you require that the AE add links to all relevant calls, emails, and notes from interactions with the customer to their account’s CRM page, providing the CSM with easy access to valuable information.

To set this up, you would select task 7 of the sales to service handoff process, and the “Contract sign date” form field (in task 5) would be the trigger.

4. Tenant screening

Use case: A property manager is expected to complete a background check within 2 days of receiving a rental application from a prospective tenant.

There’s quite a bit of work that goes into screening prospective tenants. From verifying their identification, employment status, background, credit status, and previous track record as good or bad tenants, property managers need to be on point if they want to find suitable tenants quickly and effectively.

In this example of setting up a dynamic due date, an employee at a property management firm is expected to complete a background check within 2 days of receiving a rental application. This would be done by selecting task 20 of the tenant screening checklist, selecting the time frame of your choosing, in this case “after 2 days”, and task 10 “Collect and review rental application” as the trigger.

5. Budget preparation

Use case: The finance department requires that a departmental budget is finalized and has been submitted for approval by senior management at least 3 days before the checklist due date to give enough time for a detailed review.

You are writing up an annual budget for your department. It’s an important time of the year and making sure senior management have enough time to review the budget carefully, discuss any minor adjustments and confirm approval, is number one on the priority list. To make sure you are fully aware of when the budget needs to be submitted, a dynamic due date can be set against the checklist due date.

To set this up, go to task 22 of the budget preparation checklist, titled “Request approval from top management” select “3 days” and “before” as the rule. Then select “checklist due date” as the trigger to finalize the dynamic due date.

6. Event planning

Use case: You and the rest of the event management team need to start publicizing an event at least 2 months before the event start date.

There’s a big event coming up and preparations are about to get underway. While the process may well take 4-6 months from start to finish, a critical checkpoint is when the event is just a couple of months away and its time to begin publicizing. This will likely include press releases and circulating material to your partners, affiliates, sponsors, speakers etc.

To set up this dynamic due date, select task 18 of the Eventable event planning checklist, titled “Start publicizing the event”, select “2 months” and “before”. Then, choose the “Event date” form field in task 2 as the trigger to confirm the rule.

7. Daily store opening

Use case: Store managers require that employees opening a store must check the cash registers within 15 minutes of their time of arrival.

It’s company policy that every morning when an employee clocks in and registers their time of arrival, they are required to check the cash registers within 15 minutes. This ensures that any discrepancies that may have occurred regarding the management of cash from the previous day are quickly identified and reported to the store manager.

This rule can be set up going to task 10 of the daily store opening checklist, titled “Check cash registers”, selecting “15 minutes” and “after”, followed by selecting the “Time of arrival” date form field in task 4.

How are they set up?

Now that we’ve been through a set of simple use cases, let’s quickly go through how they are set up. It’s easier than you might think.

Dynamic due dates are created and modified in the same way that regular due dates were before the new feature was released.

From within the template editor, select the task you want to add a due date for and then click the ‘due’ button with a clock icon next to it. From there you can set up the variables to determine which rules will automatically adjust the due date of tasks as various actions are completed.

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You can set dynamic due dates to trigger before one of these items:

  • A date form field found in the checklist
  • The checklist due date

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You can also set dynamic due dates to trigger after one of these items:

  • The checklist start date
  • The completion of the previous task
  • Any date form field

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Conclusion

The primary purpose of dynamic due dates is simply to inform people of the right time to do a certain task or activity. In this sense, it is not different to a regular, static due date.

What makes dynamic due dates so powerful is their ability to account for and adjust according to all kinds of variables that are determined in real-time, as a process moves along. With the 7 basic use cases I went through, I have only scratched the surface of what is possible.

I hope you found this article helpful and somehow applicable to your business processes! Are there any other use cases that you find particularly relevant to dynamic due dates? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Alex Gallia

Alex is a content writer at Process Street who enjoys traveling, reading, meditating, and is almost always listening to jazz or techno. You can find him on LinkedIn here


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