I recently came across Sparqlight on my exploration on the convergence of the enterprise social space and workflow tools and after a brief mention on a previous post I was contacted by Michael Weir from the Sparqlight team who was keen to show off their little wonder. Who am I to refuse a peek at something less than traditional that crosses into the workflow and process industry !
Sparqlight is the latest in a line of enterprise social workflow tools that claim to liberate you from tedious tasks, and make work a joy! My initial reaction was that it was another one of those dreaded gamifried tools that reward people with Moshi Monster stickers for doing the job they’re paid to do but thankfully I was proven wrong.
Michael explained that Sparqlight is built from the ground up with the social enterprise firmly at the centre of the experience. The enterprise version offers integration with Yammer, Google Apps and Salesforce (a massive boost for them already) with Box and LinkedIn around the corner and more importantly mobility is on the development path.
The web interface is split into a number of sections, the main panel is where the workflow creation and update actions take place and are displayed in a Timeline fashion; the left pane is for invoking certain functions like Analytics and for managing your enterprise connections; the right pane is for task and notification status and a Facebook-esque ‘Who I follow’ area.
The main ‘timeline’ of tasks and goals (Sparqlight calls it “your workflow”) is a real-time record, according to the view you set up using the various filters (tasks assigned, due date, overdue, owners, those sorts of criteria) and whether you are viewing your own personal,stream of work or a group or the company-wide one itself. The social layer on top of all of this works well. You can follow people within your organisation much like in Facebook, create Groups of people that you interact with (for example on a project by project level) and control privacy for each.
Users can create one of four task types to work on; Goals, To Dos, Ideas and Notes.
I want to talk a little more about the Goal functionality in this review because this will appeal more to the organisation as a workflow and task manager. I have to admit that whether by design or fluke, calling the main task type ‘Goal’ will certainly resonate with some of the Case Management crowd and on the surface Sparqlight seems to handle the ad-hoc and unstructured nature of task based work rather well.
You can either use an existing template for capturing the task and work item or create one yourself (and as a result make it available as a template for others to use). Creating a Goal is as simple as recording the name, information around the task itself, assignment of the goal, when the goal needs to be completed and priority. You can attach further ToDo lists within the goal and assign these to other individuals to complete but the goal will not close until all actions have been resolved.
I’m going to tread on a few toes here and the puritans can baulk all they want, but Sparqlight is a case management tool. The Goal itself is the case folder and all the tasks contained require to be completed before the case is closed. It’s as simple as that.
A goal can be shared with anyone who is not directly a participant in completing it, so it’s a useful feature for those who are interested to know the outcome of a piece of work but not necessarily wants to be involved in every action.
Sparqlight wouldn’t be a workflow tool without automation and here it’s a straightforward affair to set up via conditions; who you want to inform, what status you want to set etc. An action will then trigger the configured automation. Where it gets clever is the Salesforce integration; if the Salesforce record is attached to the goal the workflow conditions can be set and triggered against any field in the record giving rise to complex scenario handling.
Dashboards are a fairly standard KPI measurement affair but it’s good to see it included in social workflow tools rather than how many badges I earned today. You can take the standard out of the box reports or again, like a goal, create templates and configure how you like then save and make available to everyone else. It’s lightweight analytics and resource planning but it doesn’t mean they can’t add new features if the user community drives for it.
I have to admit to liking what Michael and the Sparqlight team have done and what’s on the horizon. It takes the social enterprise a step closer to real world application of workflow and task management (dare I say Case) and the integration with Salesforce won’t hurt its ambitions one bit. Michael said they want to aim to sit on top of the systems of record, whether they be CRM, Supply Chain, whatever, and be the tool to handle the flow of work.
For those already investing in SF and Yammer in the organisation and are looking to reinforce the social layer with real workflow capabilities then I’d definitely give this a tour.