Question: What is the difference between 'Send To' and 'Reply To' on Action Items?
When configuring Action Items, one of the first tasks you need to complete is to build out the steps associated with that Action Type. Part of this process is determining what role each step will Send To and Reply To.
The Send To field designates what Role receives an Action Item at a particular step, and in some cases, is responsible for any Outbound communication. In the example above, a General Question is created in Step 1 - Owner Question. This step will appear in the My Action Items page of users with the Customer Support role (depending on additional factors, such as portfolio.)
When a user steps that Action Item to Step 2 - Question for Manager: that Action Item is no longer in the Customer Support role's My Action Items, but has moved to the Manager's My Action Items. Depending on that User's Communication Preferences, they may have received a notification about the step change.
Finally, stepping the example Action Item to Step 3 - Response to Owner, the action item will send an outbound communication to the homeowner via the appropriate channel. Typically, this would then automatically advance to another step, such as a Closing step.
Note: If you have multiple people or roles in this step, it is important that the users in those roles have good training in place so that everyone who receives the action item has a clear understanding of how to proceed.
Example: When a violation is sent to the Manager and the Assistant Manager at a company for follow-up. At this company, the Manager always reviews the violations in the Follow Up Step, and then the Assistant Manager is only included in the event the Manager needs back up. If in this company, the Manager is the one that needs to review it, but the Assistant Manager closes the action item because they want the notification to disappear from their Action Items page, the Manager will no longer be able to see it. Thus, the organizational review process that is set up will not work well without internal training because the Assistant Manager will skip a step and the Manager will not be "in the know".
Based on these scenarios, it is advised to avoid putting two roles on one step and instead, creating two steps that are attached to different roles when possible.
The Reply To field determines who gets a message that shows on the 'Unread Message' screen on the Dashboard when a non-user (ex. Homeowners or Service Providers) reply to the action item.
There are two ways these replies may get into the system:
- Email replies from outbound communications
- Using the Reply option on the Homeowners' Portal
In either case, the Action Item will send a "New Message" to the person in the Reply To field of whatever Step the Action Item is currently in, NOT necessarily the step from which that communication was sent. Because of this, its important to think about who you want to receive Homeowner Replies at that point. It may be best to think "who would best answer a homeowner question at this point in the process?"
Example: Using the example of an ARC Request seen below, a Homeowner receives a notification at the New ARC Request step. The Action Item then goes to the Assistant Manager to review, and is sent to the ARC Committee for a decision. While the request is with the ARC committee, the Homeowner replies to the initial email asking for a status update. While the Send To for this step should be the ARC Committee because they are the ones doing the work, any replies or messages should be directed to the Assistant Manager as the liaison between the Homeowners and the Committee.
Note: It is a common misconception that the Send To and Reply To should always be the same. While in many cases that makes sense, there are times when this is not the case. For instance, it would not make sense in most scenarios for the Reply To to send to Homeowner.