Best Practices For A Successful Workflow In Sitecore

How To Keep It Simple

Sitecore is a great content management tool, but not every company manages to use it successfully.

If you're looking to use Sitecore for content management within your organization, a successful workflow is key to adoption. Get your workflow right, and you can enjoy the Sitecore benefits of simplified content management and marketing automation.

Here are some Sitecore workflow concepts to help you.

What Makes a Successful Sitecore Workflow?

What Makes A Successful Sitecore Worklow

Before we get to those, think about the hallmarks of a successful workflow. There are three key features to assess to see if your workflow is working for you – or against you.

  • A successful Sitecore workflow doesn't get in the way of your existing processes for content creation and approval. It's an enhancement, rather than a complete replacement (more on that in a moment).
  • When your Sitecore workflow works, everyone who needs the information knows what's happening with content at all times.
  • A good Sitecore workflow achieves exactly what the tool is designed for: it simplifies the publishing process.

This simplicity is one of the key Sitecore workflow secrets. Here are some concepts to guide your Sitecore usage and help your ensure that your workflow remains simple.

1. Keep it Simple

It's worth repeating that simplicity is key. The built-in Sitecore workflow includes only three stages. These are editing, waiting for approval, and approved.

If you have been using other content management tools or processes, or are trying to integrate Sitecore into an existing workflow, you may be tempted to add other stages. Don't do it: at Fishtank, we believe that 3 is the magic number to keep your workflow simple and make sure that it works.

Of course, there is some room for customizations. But the key point is to keep your workflow targeted and purpose-built. It makes the content process easier to manage and makes using Sitecore itself much easier too.

2. Remember, The Workflow Only Publishes To The Web

It's important to remember that we're talking about managing content within Sitecore – that's what these workflow tips are for.

Outside the Sitecore workflow, you may have a much longer content life cycle. This might include multiple article drafts, input from editors and writers, checking for compliance with the style guide, searching for sources and resources, and more.

We strongly recommend that the larger content lifecycle takes place outside Sitecore. Don't attempt to integrate Sitecore into that process. Sitecore is not a tool to manage business processes.

Workflow is best used to approve near-finalized content, evaluating how the content looks and functions within the website. This is the opportunity to test imagery, interactive elements and your copy is mobile friendly.

3. Enhance Your Workflow Emails

However we feel about it, email is still an extremely effective communication tool.

That's why it's important to make email work within the context of Sitecore. The content management system includes the facility to send email notifications about the content authors, editors, and approvers.

Don't expect people to login to Sitecore to check their workbox; most people won't do it.

But they will check email, so those emails need to be effective. Ideally, you want to give content authors all the information they need to move content along to the next stage of the approval process.

Sitecore libraries like Fishtank's Enhanced Email Action can provide information like the author's name, comments, a preview URL, and more and can be customized to suit your organization.

Authors should never have to login to Sitecore to see the status of their content. The less they have to check, the more effective the workflow.

4. Use the Executive Preview

When it comes to high-value content, you may want to bring new eyes to the approval process and make sure that people at a high level in the organization are able to see and approve content.

In most cases, managers, directors, executives, and the C-Suite may not have Sitecore logins, and they won't be familiar with the content management system. That's a challenge that's easy to overcome with a feature built right into Sitecore.

Use Sitecore's "preview publishing" or what we call executive preview as part of your workflow.

No Sitecore access is required. This feature lets people see content internally via preview URL and comment on it outside of Sitecore.

That keeps workflow simple and means only editors and authors need to work with content within the Sitecore system.

Workflow is Key

In any large organization, having a workflow that works is the key to success. The more complicated it is, the more there is to get in the way of that success. Let's recap the key tips:

  • Keep workflow simple and easy to interact with for best results.
  • Make sure complex content processes happen outside Sitecore.
  • Information is power, so ensure that workflow messaging provides context, so people know what actions and next steps they need to take even when they are operating outside Sitecore.
  • If you need content approval from people outside the Sitecore system, use the "executive preview" function.

Thanks for reading.

This article was authored using Markdown for Sitecore.

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Meet Dan Cruickshank

President | Sitecore MVP x 11

Dan is the founder of Fishtank. He's a multi-time Sitecore MVP and Coveo MVP award winner. Outside of technology, he is widely considered to be a top 3 father (routinely receiving "Father of the Year" accolades from his family) and past his prime on the basketball court.

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