Getting Started with Catalytic

Get started with the basics of how to use and work in Catalytic. Dive into Workflows, instances, tasks, and other Catalytic basics.


Catalytic helps people, bots, + AI get work done better. Our platform gives you new capabilities to broadly apply automation to your day to day work. Catalytic is all about automation, and to get started with Catalytic, we’ll get started with some of the basics of process automation.

Automation can happen in all sorts of places. Updating spreadsheets? That can be automated. Deciding to approve or deny a request? That can be automated too. We know your day to day work is full of these tasks and more, so Catalytic created Workflows to help automate all types of work, from the simple to complex.

With a Workflow, bots and AI work alongside you, helping to automate over 30% of your most repetitive or mundane work activities; that means time saved, not jobs lost. We want to help you find time for more meaningful work.

You don’t need to be an expert of automation to use Catalytic; you just need to understand 4 key concepts: Triggers, Processes, Tasks, and Data.

4 Key Automation Concepts

You can understand Catalytic by understanding 4 key concepts: Triggers, Processes, Tasks, and Data. Once you understand how these concepts are already part of your work today, you’ll see how easy it is to work with automation.

To understand these concepts, consider the following scenario we’re all familiar with: scheduling a vacation.

Joe is ready for a vacation, he sends an email to his boss. His boss Mary adds the request to a spreadsheet for review from HR. HR sends a follow-up email to Joe asking for additional information. Joe responds back, waits for a response, and finally gets an approval. Vacation time!

Using this example of how Joe’s company manages vacation requests, let’s look at how all 4 key concepts from Catalytic are embedded in this average business process.

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The trigger is when Joe sends an email to his boss. This is the start of the chain of events.
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The process is what's completed after the trigger and made up of every step necessary to approve Joe's vacation.
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The tasks are the individual steps that make up the process.
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The data are the essential information that's collected and communicated throughout the process.

Most processes with tasks, triggers, and data can be automated. We start with the trigger (Joe needing a vacation), identify the process (all the steps to approve the vacation) then break it down into tasks (review the request, submit the approval..) and the data required (specific dates requested, deadlines, or manager name). Once this has been laid out, a Workflow is created that automates part of the work.

How a Workflow Works

Catalytic makes it easy to build automation and work with automation. Before automation, this is what the vacation process at Joe’s company looked like:

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In this example, requesting vacation takes 6 steps and requires up to 3 people.

Then, by creating a Workflow, Joe’s company replaced their own vacation approval process with a partially automated process that’s managed in Catalytic.

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In this example, 2 people only need to complete 1 task each to approve a vacation.

In the end, what took three people 6 different steps, is reduced to just 2 steps, with the rest left to automation. When we talk about this new, upgraded process that utilizes automation, we call that a Workflow. A Workflow is the new, automation enhanced version of your old business process.

So can a Workflow save you time? That’s what we do best! Free up your mental space to focus on important work? Of course, that’s second-nature. Make it easier to kickstart that vacation you’ve been planning? You got it.

Now that we’ve talked through the basics, let’s learn how you will use tasks to interact and work with a Workflow.

Tasks in Catalytic

Every Workflow is an automated process, and every automated process is made up of tasks. Tasks in Catalytic are just as simple as your typical day to day tasks, but in Catalytic they’re integrated with automation.

Sending an e-mail, updating a spreadsheet, and collecting data are examples of types of tasks. Tasks completed by a person are a Task Action.

A task completed by a bot or AI are either Automated Actions, Integration Actions, and Predictive Actions.

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Actions are part of Catalytic's Workflow Engine, the easy step by step system that makes automation people-friendly.

When a person completes a task action in a Workflow, like filling out a form to collect information, that data is stored and can be sent to a bot to do a number of automated actions, like working in Excel or looking up data.

Your Catalytic Home Page

The Catalytic home page is the starting point for managing your day to day tasks. From here, you can see an overview of all your work and the status of tasks, notifications, and any Workflows you’re involved in.

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You can access the home page at any time by click on the Catalytic logo in the top left corner.

Let’s focus just on the Tasks section for now.

Start, View and Complete Tasks

All of your personal tasks are assembled on your tasks page and are organized newest first, and are sortable and filterable by date, deadline, or status. To access the tasks page select Tasks from the top navigation bar.

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The task page is like a checklist. If you have a task you're responsible for in a process that's been created, your task will appear here when it is your step in the process.

Joe’s vacation request task is listed here. The Workflow was started from a trigger and the first task was assigned to Joe. Let’s take a look into this task by selecting it.

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Tasks will have fields for you to complete. Some tasks require you to select options, type in text, or enter in numbers. For example,

  • If you’re part of a Workflow that automates updating a spreadsheet, you may enter in numbers or values that will get automatically added to a report.
  • If you’re part of a Workflow that sends out a team wide e-mail, you may enter in mailing list recipients or a custom attachment.

When you’ve finished filling out a task, you can go ahead and select the button to complete the task. As well, if you’re not the best person to complete the task, you can the task to another team member, or a task if you can’t complete it yet. Snoozed tasks are hidden from your task list until the selected time.

Collaborating on an Instance

Most Workflows have a mix of different task types, both manual and automated, like Joe’s vacation request.

With this emphasis on helping people, bots, + AI work together, collaboration is essential in Catalytic to help make automation easy and help everyone save time. Let’s look back at the process above that outlines Joe’s vacation

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There are four total tasks in this example, one assigned to Joe, one assigned to Mary, and two automated actions done by a bot.

For the Workflow to move forward, each task needs to be completed: If Joe never completes his first task and fills out a vacation request form, the next automated action would never start, which means Mary can approve the request.

Let’s start by checking the status of this Workflow and see every task in context together. We’re going to check the specific Workflow instance that Joe is involved in. When Joe requests a vacation, an instance of the “Vacation Approval” Workflow is started to manage his approval; if someone else requested a vacation, they would have their own instance.

When you’re viewing a task, the instance that task is from is always right above the task title.

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This page shows the details of Joe's Vacation Request instance.

On the instance page, you can see a summary of the instance details, with the owner, date started, and a progress overview at the top.

Every step in the instance is broken down into a simple checklist where you can see exactly what’s happened like who’s working on what and what’s coming next. Joe has the first task in this instance; this was the task we looked at earlier. After his Vacation Request task, an automated action “Add to Spreadsheet” would start.

From here you can comment on the instance to interact with other members of your team. Comments appear at the bottom of the page. You can include the @ symbol plus a teammate’s name to tag the team member you want to interact with, like @mary or @joe. The team member you tag will receive an email notification about your comment if their notifications are turned on. You can also leave comments on individual tasks.

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In this case we're asking Mary to confirm if she wants any specific information.

Notification preferences are included in your profile settings, located in the menu the top right of the screen: It will show a general icon until you set a profile picture. We’ll review the settings next, but let’s jump straight into My Profile and then Notification Preferences near the bottom. Notifications can be set for Task Assignments, Reminders, Run Completion, Daily Summary, Weekly Summary, and Others. All notifications are sent as emails but if your team uses Slack, you can receive them there too.

Check in with your team to decide how notifications will work best for each of you. At Catalytic, we find that some people prefer to set their homepage to Catalytic and turn off daily summaries.

There are a few more settings available to configure as a new user which we’ll take a look at next.

Day to Day in Catalytic

Our goal is to help you have the best experience using Catalytic day to day. There are a few extra recommendations we like to make that can really help while you’re getting familiar with Workflow.

Your home page is a great place to keep referring back to throughout the day: that’s where most of the work in Workflow is done! Every task, instance, or notification you get will appear on the home page, this is a great place to set as your browsers homepage, or to bookmark, or keep on an open window.

Another helpful tip is a quick way to check out the progress or status of an instance you’re involved in. Any time you have a task assigned to you, you can jump to that task’s instance from the home page in the Instances section; select View All to open up the instances page.

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The next two recommendations are in your profile page up in the top right menu. On your profile page you can make some helpful changes to your Catalytic settings.

If your team uses Slack and has the Slack integration enabled, you can add your Slack username, like @Arnold, and set up task assignment notifications inside Slack. Once you’ve added a username, you can head to Notification Preferences and set up your task assignment notifications to go straight into Slack.

As well, a quick way to get support is through our help site; you’re here now! You can always get back to help quickly through Workflow. Quick access to help is always available from the menu in the top right of any screen.