Data Store allows for truly data driven process mapping. Items created within the Data Store are visually identifiable, easy to understand, ready for validation, and flexible.

Rather than creating new elements ad hoc for each Process and Task, you can create replicable Data Store Items that can be used and reused across a Process in a variety of useful ways. For example, Data Store Items can be used in reporting to create dashboards, enriched data analysis, and many more ways.

Making use of Data Store Items will involve a bit of an adjustment period for people who've used Atlas prior to it's implementation. So, for old and new users we've got you covered in this how-to article.

How the Datastore works

Now that we understand how important Data Store is, we're going to take a look at how to use it, what makes it tick, and best practice for making use of Data Store Items.

Creating a Process with Datastore in mind

Rather than creating fields in your Tasks that then become elements within the Atlas pipeline, Data Store Items need to be created ahead of their use and slotted into your Process.

This means when mapping a Process you'll need to follow this four step plan:

  1. Layout a basic map of your Process, annotating as you go the Data Store Items you'll need within each element of the Process

  2. Create the Data Store Items based on your understanding of how the Process will operate

  3. Insert the Data Store Items into their relevant elements (Tasks, Gateways, etc.)

  4. Head back to step one and two, reassess what additional data would improve the process to iterate and continually improve your Processes!

The key to getting the most out of Atlas is starting small and building to complexity. Every time you begin mapping, layout the outline of what you want to do. Then follow the logic of the Process and see if there's anything you've missed. Once you're happy with the Process flow, you're already well on your way to implementing something game changing for your business.

With a mapped out Process, you can start creating the functionality in it you'll need to bring the Process to life. HR Processes might need date and time inputs for start dates and DOBs, quality assurance Processes might need text input options for product feedback.

All of these and more can be created in the Data Store and added into the elements within your Process. Once they're in, you can Run the Process and see how it performs. If it works, great! If not, you'll have to investigate and fill any gaps there might be.

Remember though, iteration is the key to agile success. Perfection is a point on the compass, not a destination. Head back to the first step and see if you can't improve your Process in version 2 and beyond!

So long as you follow these steps, you should be iterating ever more effective Processes in no time.

Creating a Data Item

Once you've mapped the outline of your Process, annotating along the way what functionality needs to be added, you'll need to start creating the Data Items that will bring your Process to life.

To do this, click on the Data Store tab in the Properties Panel. Once you're inside the Data Store view, you can hit the "Add New Data Item" button to add a new Data Item.

You'll be able to choose the Data Type, which is the type of Data Item you'll be creating. For more information on Data Types, please read our article Data Store - Data Types.

NB: We would suggest you begin with String, Number, or Boolean types as they are the easiest to understand and get to grips with.

The Item Format option allows you to get even more specific with the type of Data Item you're creating, depending on the type of Data Item you’re creating. In the below example you can see all the different types of String items you can create. For more information on the String Data Type Item Formats, please read our article What are the different String Data Types.

The Title will be the name of your Data Item and you can also add in a Description for future reference, as well as a Default Value on many of the types of Data Item you can create. In the below example, it would be the text you'd like to display. It might also be, for example, some instruction on what to enter or a pre-poulated value.

Naming Conventions

When it comes to naming your Data Store Item, it's important to remember that whatever you name your Item, will be how you find it when Mapping your process.

If, for example, you want to capture an employees name, you could name your Data Store Item "Employee Name". Then when you create an Entry Field you can use this Data Item to allow a user to enter the appropriate name. Then later in the process, you can use that same Data Store Item to display the name entered using a Display Field.

However, if you simply name your Data Store Item "Text Entry" that might be too generic to find in a complicated Process. You might also get confused when coming back to it later in the Process to make use of it in a different type of field.

Once you've added all the necessary details, you must hit 'Save' to save your new Data Item to the Data Store.

Editing and re-ordering Data Store Items

Once you've created a Data Store Item, it is possible to edit some aspects of it, though important to note, the Data Store Key will remain un-editable. That means you need to be very aware that whatever you name your Data Store Item initially will dictate what that Data Store Item's key is at all times.

A Data Store Item's key can be found by clicking the icon below in the Data Store.

To edit a Data Store Item, you can click the pencil icon to the left of the information icon. This will take you to a similar interface as the one you use when creating a Data Store Item.

To re-order Data Store Items, click and hold the three vertical dots to the left of the Data Store Item's name, and that will allow you to drag the Data Store Item up or down in the order.

How to use Data Items in your Processes

Once you've created your Data Items you'll want to put them to use in your Processes. Doing so is pretty straightforward, so lets take a look at how you go about it.

Head over to an element you want to insert a Data Item into, such as a User Task, and look at the 'Sections Tab'. You can either add a new section or make use of one that's there already. We will also cover adding Data Items to Function Tasks and Gateway Expressions in another article.

Once you've gone into the edit section view, you'll see the 'Add New Field' option, give it a click and you'll see the following view.

The 'Select Field Mode' offers three options:

  • Display - For fields where you just want to display something, whether that's a text, image, or something else.

  • Entry - For general entry options, such as a text entry field, a number entry field, or a Boolean if you'd like a two option dropdown (e.g. yes or no).

  • Entry - Select - For fields where you want the User to select an option from a drop down.

Once you've chosen the type of Data Item you'll be adding as a field, you can select the Data Item from the drop down.

From there you can add in your description, any default values you might want to enter, and then you can hit 'Save' and you're Data Item is now integrated into your Process!

NB: It's important to remember that you have to hit 'Save' every time you create, update, or make changes to a Task and/or expression within map. The Atlas Play AutoSave feature will save your Process Map, but without saving the Task or Expression you're working on, the update will be lost.

Making the most out of Data Store

As you can see, the above example is using an Entry Field. We chose this one in particular as it highlights one of the most significant improvements that comes with Data Store.

By creating this Data Store Item and inserting it as an Entry Field, it operates in much the way you would expect. When a user Runs the Task, they'll be able to enter the appropriate data into this field. But, because the entry field is tied to a Data Store Item, the Process Mapper can then use the data that will be entered in interesting ways.

For a simple example, if we think again about an HR Process, someone might have entered their name in one field, their DOB in another, their qualifications in a third, and so on.

What the Process Mapper can do from here is create a Task further down the Process that uses those same Data Store Items to produce display fields. This might be used to have the user confirm their entries from earlier.

This is just one simple example of how Data Store Items can be used to provide value throughout a Process, but the utility is nearly limitless. Have fun!

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact our dedicated support team using the Intercom Icon at the bottom left of your screen!

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