Is Coda a good idea for BPM? Or should I look at other tools?

Hi Codans!

I’ve been using Coda for about 2 months now, coming from the Google Suite, I’ll never look back. I absolutely love it.

Now I want to make a very complex process management doc for content management. I’ve mapped it out in BPMN, but now feel like it’ll be hard to scale it once it’s made and more and more collaborators get added. On top of that, the lack of granular permissions will make it a mess if someone makes a mistake.

As I lack a lot of practical knowledge in enterprises, I never really learned about tools such as Zoho Creator and KissFlow. When looking at them now, they seem to be more what I need, a literal translation of a mapped out business process, with more permission settings and scaleability. But I’ve never actually used them, so I wanted to hear what’s on Coda’s mind.

Would you recommend using Coda for business processes? Or are you just aiming to be more like a project management tool combined with a wiki? And should I focus on using tools such as KissFlow to avoid running into scaleability issues later on with Coda?

The reasons why I ask first and don’t immediately decide to go for KissFlow are:

  • The love for Coda and the ability to make my app into a wiki
  • Pricing, it’s slightly cheaper, but that’s not the biggest factor
  • Integrations
  • Customisability
  • The time invested into learning Coda so far

I’m very much looking forward to a response.
If it would be possible to jump on a call with someone that would be even more awesome, I would gladly answer any survey in the meanwhile :wink:

Thank you,

Could you please tell us more? What about your content management that makes it complex? how many collaborators are you thinking? if you could share your BPMN, it would be much easier to give you guidance.

also regarding permissions, we do have protection features that should help with other collaborators accidentally changing the document.

Hey Krunal,

Of course! I’m afraid I can’t share the model because of private information.
We are thinking about 10 collaborators at first, but it’s a scaling start-up so might increase fast.

The Coda doc I’m talking about would probably have about 50-100 table views and 30+ sections. It’s a content management system that starts with the content (multiple hours), dissects into edited content and then into shorter clips/trailers/socialmedia content. All managed within Coda. There will be producers, revisors, editors, managers, writers, etc. collaborating with one another.

Ideally and on the long term, it’d connect to all the other processes of the company that touch the content.

Regarding the protection features, I indeed found the locking working relatively well, but as everyone can unlock there’s still mistakes to be made. It’s already a huuuuuge improvement on what it was though! Everyone can still read all the sections and get distracted by the many things happening, or even see information they shouldn’t. And as long as Cross-Doc doesn’t sync two ways, there isn’t another effective option than having all the information in one doc.

I am not looking for guidance on how to implement the process in Coda. I know how to do that. I’m wondering if Coda is actually the right tool considering other tools on the market. Mainly because of scaleability. Will the Coda doc be able to handle a scaling startup without having someone work on it all the time?



This is a great line of questions and it’s rational to walk through these to be sure about your next steps. Here are some observations from a user/developer/consultant concerning Coda and business process automation -

At the outset, my deep accounting background will quickly jump into action to remind you that this is a sunk cost. This should not be in your decision matrix - it is a retrospective cost.

Once again, while this is compelling, be careful about emotional attachments. I love Coda too - I get it. :wink: The only sway that this “feeling” should have in your calculous is that other makers will likely love it too. But what you actually build with Coda may not necessarily be equally loved by your enterprise users. Just sayin’ …

Indeed, for any information management objective, we can generally find tools that are more completely “baked” to meet specific BPM objectives. But they come at a price and often the pricing components are hidden. For example…

  • Lockin
  • Rigidity
  • Feature temptation (up-sell strategy)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with assessing and comparing fully baked products with your Coda envisioning process, but be sure you consider the true cost of ownership before setting the implementation strategy.

In my view, this is a mistake. There are elements of Google Apps Script that serve to provide a deep bench of players that can augment almost any BPM process.

No single company or team can envision all of the use cases, nuances, or requirements of anyone’s solution. This is why you see vast integration and customisation points in Coda; this team knows they cannot predict everything that any team may need to build hyper-profitable businesses. Likewise, we live an in API economy; systems must lean on each other to achieve competitive precision.

If you feel like it will be hard to scale, you have probably already answered your question. Indeed, your gut is telling you this can’t be delivered solely in Coda. This is not unusual - Coda has strengths and ideally, you need to design a solution that leverages these strengths (if at all). But since scale is important, I think you have to consider technology combinations to get there.

Have you ruled out Coda + [some other stuff] as unable to meet the scalability concerns?

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Thanks for the extensive reply again, Bill.

I’ve decided to take the leap and make the tool in Coda. I’ll just model it somewhat more deeply and incorporate Coda sections into my model, so that I can easily track what’s where and what needs to be changed if errors occur.

I haven’t thought of/researched any APIs/Packs that could work well for my purpose. Would you recommend doing it preemptively, or only when an issue occurs that can’t easily be solved with Coda?

If you would have the time and the willingness to maybe map out your personal process when making any Coda file, I would gladly read it. I am aware that any Coda doc is different from the other, but maybe you can recognize a general process for making complex docs?

Thank you for your time again. Have a great week!

Preemptively without question.

At least a generalized attempt to imagine how to connect all the dots before striking out across the frontier.

I’m slammed this week but I’ll try to organize some ideas for my approach.


I totally understand that you’re a busy man, so I wouldn’t mind if this takes a long while, I just think a lot of people would benefit from your way of doing things :slight_smile:

So take your time! Would appreciate if you could tag me once you’ve written it out.

Have a good one.