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our SaaS product has a very interesting 'workflow' pattern, and we are looking for examples of how other products might have handled this.

It works like this:

  1. User fills out a short form (5 fields) that contains their credentials and basic configuration.
  2. We generate a tempalte file based on this input. User has to download it.
  3. User has to go to a third-party platform and upload it there. They might not do it immediately. WHen they do, uploaded tempalte will launch an asynchronous process that might take 5-10 minutes.
  4. Once the process is done, user has to go back to our platform and trigger a 'handshake' – validate that the deployment was successfull.
  5. After the validation was successfull we fetch the list of items from the third-party platform and present them to the user.
  6. User has to select at least one item from the list, but can choose to select more.
  7. We generate yet another template based on their selection, that they need to download.
  8. They need to again go to the third-party platform and upload it, which again will launch an asynchronous process that might take around 10 minutes.
  9. They again need to return to our platform and Validate that the deployment was successfull, at which point the workflow is over.

We have so far two designs that handle this – one long form, where each action, including validations, is presented as a step in a multi-step wizard. It flows quite nicely, but the issue is with the cases when user chooses not to perform evey action immediately one after another. Once they leave the form, they need to go back to 'Edit' to carry on from where they stopped, which does not flow nicely at all.

We have also tried to split the workflow in two, with each successfull validation event being a stopping point. It makes thigns less jarring, but introduces a disconnect betwenn the two steps and we rely on user interacting with a small CTA in the table next to the item they need to finish (they can repeat this flow multiple times).

We would appreciate pointers to other complex asynchronous workflow examples, especially those that handle input and output scenarios well.

Thank you!

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I am curious as to whether you have a true asynchronous workflow where some of the steps can be performed in parallel, or whether it is being broken up due to the fact that there are third parties involved and so it is out of your control for some of the steps. From the user's perspective, it might just feel like a transaction where you have to submit something, wait for something to come back, and then submit something again because of dependencies.

I can think of government processes where different departments have to co-ordinate their processes and data to provide services that behave in a similar way. For example, in order to obtain a new passport, you register an account on the passport portal, you then print out a form with a unique id you use to apply for the document. Next you need to gather your identity documents (or your old passport if renewing) and complete the application form, go and take new photos and attach to the application, get someone else to verify the photos, and then submit the application for review (or go through an interview process if it is the first time). If everything checks out, then you'll receive your passport in the mail.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether there is a specific reason to break up the steps (e.g. for security reasons or to make the workflow more efficient), or whether it should be streamlined to create a better user experience. From what you have described, it sounds more like a checklist of action items you need a user to complete rather than a linear workflow, so you can design the interface accordingly to reflect this if it will lead to a higher completion rate.

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