Getting started with CityGrows

If you're brand new to CityGrows, you might like to check out our quick intro video before starting this tutorial.

Once you have a basic understanding of what CityGrows can do for you, you'll want to pick a process--something that you or your organization do on a regular basis--and build a template for it on CityGrows. Or you can start with one of our pre-made templates and adapt it to your needs. Here's one for film permits, and another for procurement, as a sample (FYI you'll be asked to create an account before you see the template).

If you 'd like to create your own template from scratch - read on!

Building a template

First, map out your process

For the sake of this example, lets pretend you work for The Department of Energy Conservation (DoEC). Among other things, your department is responsible for helping businesses install solar panels in exchange for a tax credit. Here's what that process typically looks like:

  1. A business owner submits an application and someone in your department records the information.
  2. A case manager is assigned
  3. If the business qualifies, you send out a guy to evaluate their physical location and determine the approach needed
  4. Instructions are sent out to the applicant on how to proceed with installation
  5. Applicant indicates installation is complete
  6. Your department sends an inspector out to sign off on proper installation
  7. Your department head reviews the completed process and gives final approval

There are quite a few moving parts here. Let's get this process set up on a CityGrows template.

Create a new template

Before you can create a template, you must register for a CityGrows admin account - it's free and takes 2 seconds. Once you've logged in, create a template by visiting the process templates page and clicking the new template button. You can give your new template a name in the top left corner.

Create some steps

1. Record information

Since the first thing we need to do is record information from an application, we'll add a Collect / Record Information step by clicking Add Step and selecting it from the list.

You can name your step, and you have the option to add a description, instructions, timeframe, and automatic email notification components (all optional, but often helpful!).

One thing you'll need to decide is who is adding the information - an external person (the applicant) or a team member (someone from inside the organization).

Next, we need to tell our template what information we want to collect. For the sake of simplicity, let's pretend our application asks for Applicant name, Email, a description of what the business does, and a photo of the business.

Click Add new section, then give it a title, then click the Add New field button, and fill out the field so that it looks like this:

When you click on the 3 dots at right, you'll have the option to make the field required, and to decide whether the field information should be included in open data visualizations and to the public. While we encourage our clients to keep as much data as possible public, some sensitive data (home addresses, phone numbers, personal emails) may be appropriate to redact/ not include

We'll do that three more times to enter in all of the information we want to collect. When finished, our fields will look like this:

In this case, all the fields are required, and everthing except for the email field will be included in open data.

There's no need to save as you work: everything is saved automatically.

And if you ever need help, you can click on the "chat" icon at bottom right and we'll do our best to answer your questions.

2. Assign a case manager

Next we want to assign a case manager for this process. (To learn more about assignments, read How assignments work.) To do that, we'll click Add step and select the Assign someone step type. We'll name this step, "Assign a case manager."

Next, we want to choose who will be responsible for assigning the case manager. We have two options:

  1. Whoever is currently assigned. This means that whoever is currently assigned to the active process will select who to transfer assignment to. This option makes sense if in your organization, assigning a case manager is usually left up to the person who received the application.
  2. A specific person or people. This means that every time a process gets to this step, the same person will always make the assignment. This option makes sense if, for example, you have a coworker who's job it is to pick a case manager for all the new applications.

At the DoEC, whoever receives the application gets to pick the case manager, so we'll select Option 1: Whoever is currently assigned.

3. Review application

Next, we need to review the application to make sure the applicant qualifies. Let's pretend that's Bob Smith's job. We'll add a Require Review step and assign Bob as the reviewer.

4. Send out an inspector

There's a couple different ways you could go here depending on how your organization is run. Namely you could use either a Basic step and specify that an inspector is being sent out, or you could use another Review step and explicitly require that the inspector mark his inspection as reviewed before advancing.

For the sake of simplicity, let's create a basic step. We'll add a description to the step so that everyone knows what's supposed to be happening.

We'll also add a timeframe to this step since we want to make sure it doesn't take longer than a week to get an inspector out.

5 - 8 Build out remaining steps

The rest of this template can be build out using similar techniques to those above. For the sake of brevity, here's what the template will look like when complete.


Your template is now ready to go. Next, learn how to launch a process.

Have questions about this article or comments on how it can be improved? Send us a message using the chat icon in the bottom right of the screen.