Box adds new capabilities to its Relay workflow engine

The additions include a set of templates, file request integration, and multifile support.

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Box announced improvements to its workflow engine, Box Relay, on Tuesday. The cloud content management provider added new capabilities including a library of templates, the integration of File Request, and multifile support, according to a press release. 

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"Relay is our code-free workflow builder, which allows not just folks in IT, but any business user across functions, sales, marketing, finance, HR, legal procurement, etc., to their content-centric workflows," said Varun Parmar general manager of apps and enterprise at Box. 

First released in June 2019, Box Relay offers the benefits of the Box Cloud Content Management platform including security and compliance, extensive APIs, pre-built productivity integrations, and collaboration features. 

The updated capabilities, however, bring Box Relay to a new level of functionality. With most organizations working from home, the need to digitize is more relevant than ever, according to the release. 

"There's research out there that shows that over 80% of content review and approvals today happen over email," Parmar said. 

"We've taken those emails-centric content approval and review workflows and automated them," Parmar said. "The reason why it's pretty transformational is that you can't rely upon IT to go find those hundreds, if not thousands, of use cases that exist across the organization and manually automate all of them." 

"The second thing is that when these things live in email, there can be variance in terms of sort of response times. In some cases, for example, relatively regulated industries, we find that compliance becomes a big aspect," Parmar said. "Anytime you make any edits to that document, it needs to be logged and tracked because external auditors come and review the updates on that. Things like those that happen over email can be then moved over to Relay."

This tool is even more relevant as businesses have been forced online due to the novel coronavirus. Before the pandemic, industries such as financial services, insurance, and healthcare had very content-centric processes that happened in physical stores. 

For  example, if someone was applying for a mortgage or getting insurance on a car, individuals had to walk into a retail outlet, hand over a slew of documents, get those documents verified, and so on. 

"That was the trigger point for the business process to start," Parmar said. "With everything going on now, how do you take all of those hundreds of processes, which are important for the existence of these businesses, and transform them overnight? And if that wasn't enough, you're trying to do that while IT is upholding just basic systems."

New Box Relay features 

  • Template library

Box introduced the templates for Box Relay for common workflows throughout company departments. The templates help users build workflows in minutes, saving the time of manually building them. An updated welcome page allows users to develop new workflows or select from a library of templates, according to the release. 

The templates consist of 24 common line-of business use cases. Users can modify workflow steps, add pointers to related content, quickly add the correct collaborators and task assignees, and more. The templates rapidly automate simple and common business processes, while integrating best practices for designing workflows. 

"We've published a number of templates where I, as a business user, can go in and see what that workflow is. Let's say it's a content submission workflow," Parmar said. "I can continue to review it. I can say, 'yes, this makes sense. Here are a couple of things I need to edit or modify.' And literally in less than 60 seconds, I can say, 'I'm good with this. Let me go ahead and publish this.'" 

The release used a legal team's project as an example. Legal teams can choose from a variety of templates that help review and approve customer contracts, finalize patent submissions via external counsel,  and handle the review of sensitive external communications, according to the release.

  • File Request integration

File Request integration into Box Relay streamlines workflows from initial content submission to automated downstream processes. The feature gives customers a secure way to get files and metadata from external partners and vendors. The integration results in an automated handoff between File Request and Box Relay workflows, according to the release.

A previously configured File Request can now act as a trigger for a Relay workflow. Users can also specify conditions on the submitted metadata to efficiently route and process the submission. 

"We are enhancing our workflow capabilities, where if you have a collection of documents, you can quickly create a webpage, a form, where you can upload these files," Parmar said. "Then, you can take this collection of files and convert it into a package and then load it to a business process." 

For example, when a vendor uploads a completed application into a specific intake folder on Box, a Relay workflow is automatically initiated. The workflow then moves the application to designated folders based on the requested metadata and assigns tasks with deadlines for individuals and teams to review or approve. 

This process allows for a virtual and digital experience instead of in-person exchanges and paper-paces processes, reducing turnaround times and creating a better experience for remote  workers, according to the release. 

  • Multifile support

Box also announced the addition of multifile support to the workflows, allowing users to package multiple pieces of content together to  move easily through a workflow as one item, including assigning a single task for review and approval, according to the release. 

Multifile support simplifies the entire document handling procedure that involves multiple files such as vendor applications, product launches, and expense reports.  

The release outlined an example of how multifile support could be used in Human Resources departments. HR departments could process multiple documents such as an application form,  not from a medical provider, form of ID for a leave of absence through multifile. The feature  simplifies the process by routing the accumulation of files through a single workflow so the HR  team can review the items with one click. 

"Everyone in these entities are getting stressed because of the new ways of doing work," Parmar said. "If you can actually automate this as a business, you can start to meet the demands of what your customers, vendors, partners, and contractors are asking for." 

These new features are included with Box Relay at no additional charge. Multifile support for Manual Start workflows will be available at the end of June; the new library of templates and File Request integration will be available at the end of July, according to the release.

For more, check out Box announces new features including annotations, Zoom integration, and greater personalization on TechRepublic.

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