BoxWorks Digital: Automate your business your way

Workflow Header

When companies first made adjustments to adapt to the new normal, the focus was on ensuring business continuity to survive. Now, the companies that did so successfully are looking to accelerate and optimize their business. In a recent survey of top CIOs, CTOs and CISOs on what teams need the most right now from content collaboration tools to be successful, ‘boosting efficiency and productivity’ rose to the top of the list.

At Box, we’ve kept pace with our customers’ changing needs throughout their journey. Earlier this summer, we fast-tracked key capabilities in Box Relay to make automation across the enterprise easier than ever before. We launched a library of pre-built workflow templates for every line of business and integrated File Request into Box Relay to enable seamless submission and automation of content originating outside the enterprise.

As organizations look to expand the extent of automation, it’s becoming clear that every workflow has a unique signature – shaped by organizational structure, asset policies, team dynamics, technology stack, and available business applications. So, what appears to be the same workflow on the surface, is often executed quite differently across organizations.

For example, an HR policy document review and approval workflow at a startup may informally involve 2-3 people, and the final document stored in a shared company folder. The same workflow at a multinational company may involve several layers of formal approval, including legal and compliance review for industry and regional regulations, with the final document housed in an HRIS system like Workday.

Automation solutions need to be flexible and adapt to such unique needs to automate a wide range of business processes. To that end, we are excited to announce several new capabilities in Box Relay to enable process owners to customize and connect their automated workflows with ease.

Workflow 1

Standardized, yet customizable workflows

On the heels of pre-built workflow templates in Box Relay, we are announcing custom workflow templates. Organizations typically look to standardize workflows, so all teams use a fairly consistent methodology for automating their business processes. However, each team may choose to implement the workflow a bit differently.

With custom workflow templates in Box Relay, process owners create and publish templates for use by business users in the organization. These templates are added to the Relay template library under a separate 'My Enterprise' tab and are visible to all users. Business users select a template and make modifications easily to meet their needs, as opposed to starting from scratch. 

For example, a corporate marketing team can establish a workflow that requires business units (BU’s) to upload public-facing assets to a central intake folder for approval prior to publishing. The workflow template can pre-specify folders and routing of files to specific individuals within the corporate marketing team. Further, the template can give BUs the flexibility to tweak steps related to their internal process. For instance, a BU may have their Marketing Manager upload assets, while another BU may mandate approval from their General Manager prior to uploading assets for review by the corporate marketing team.

Custom workflow templates enable:

  • Process owners to standardize workflows and reduce business risk by eliminating circumvention of business rules  
  • Business users to get started quickly building workflows while following company guidelines and best practices
  • IT to roll-out and scale automated workflows easily across the enterprise

Custom workflow templates will be available in November 2020 and, continuing the customization drumbeat over the next several months, we will be launching additional capabilities such as custom-branded File Request pages, scheduled workflows, dynamic file/folder naming and referenceable workflow variables.

Connect and extend workflows

Box Relay addresses the needs of business users automating processes around their content in Box. However, a workflow within Box may be part of a larger business process that involves systems/applications outside of Box, and require extensibility.


The Manual Start API enables third-party and custom apps to trigger a pre-configured workflow in Box. For instance:

  • An action in ServiceNow triggers a ‘document review’ workflow in Box that assigns tasks for document approval
  • A new sign-up in a vendor portal triggers an ‘onboarding’ workflow in Box that creates a standard folder structure and populates with relevant files

Further, the File Request API enables third-party and custom apps to create, configure and manage File Request links on folders in Box for collecting files and metadata. Examples include:

  • A new supplier added in the SAP ERP system sends a File Request link to the supplier to upload invoices
  • A new insurance claim filed in a customer portal sends a File Request link for the claimant to submit evidence, and expires the link after a set period

These APIs are the first of many that will enable further extensibility in Box Relay and integration with external systems and applications. The File Request API will be available in October 2020 and the Manual Start API will be available by January 2021.

With customization and API extensibility, the future of workflow is more intuitive, collaborative and automated. When business processes are more efficient, tasks get completed on time, resource usage is optimal, business risk is reduced, and teams are able to focus on what matters most. In short, everyone wins.

Want to learn more about automation and how to unleash your best work? Be sure to tune into BoxWorks, and follow #BoxWorks on Twitter!