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Getting Started with Action Triggers
Getting Started with Action Triggers
Updated over a week ago


Action Triggers are conditional rules you can create to automatically send messages to Workers when certain criteria are met. You can use Action Triggers to help automate your organization’s processes by building your business rules into Penelope with conditions that reflect your specific needs.

You can create a wide range of Action Triggers with varying degrees of complexity. For example, you could create a simple Action Trigger to notify Workers when they’ve been assigned a new client. You can also create more complex Action Triggers that build from other Action Trigger-generated tasks. For example, an initial trigger to create a Safety Plan when a safety issue is identified for a client. If the task is incomplete after a certain period of time, you could create a secondary Action Trigger to notify management to follow up with the Worker.

You’ll use your System Administrator account to configure most Action Triggers which is what we’ll focus on in this section of our help materials. If you have access to building Documents can create Action Triggers for specific Documents as well.

Action Triggers List

in this section:

When you log in to Penelope using your System Administration account, configuration for Action Triggers can be found in the System Setup list. When you click Action Trigger Setup, you’ll be presented with the Action Trigger List.

The Action Triggers List displays the list of Action Triggers that you’ve configured for your agency (with the exception of Document-based Action Triggers which are found on the Document template). If you’re newly implementing Penelope and setting up Action Triggers for the first time, the list will be empty (but not for long!),

Action Triggers page with callouts

The Action Triggers page includes two sections: Search Criteria and Results.

Search Criteria

The Search Criteria section includes filtering options that you can use to narrow the list of Action Triggers shown in the Results section. Filtering options include Rule Category, Rule Class, and Status.

Action Trigger Search Criteria


The Results section shows the list of Action Triggers configured by your agency (or a subset of Action Triggers if you’ve applied Search Criteria). The Results section includes several columns that you can click the header of to sort the list.

Action Trigger Results List

To view a specific Action Trigger from the list, click its Rule Name.

Action Trigger Components

Each has its own page showing the details of the Rule, Criteria, and the Action (i.e. the message) the trigger generates.

Action Trigger page with callouts

Rule Section

The Rule section displays the basic information about the Action Trigger:


After you create the Action Trigger, you cannot modify the Rule Category or Action. If you want to change these components, you must create a new Action Trigger.

Rule Name

The name you defined for the Action Trigger displays on the Action Trigger page as well as in the Action Trigger List (but is not included in the message sent to recipients).

Action Trigger Results list with callout for Rule Name column

Action Trigger Names should provide some clarifying context for what the Action Trigger is for (particularly if you’ll be using the same Action Trigger types for multiple scenarios).

Defining Parameters

Some Action Triggers include Defining Parameter(s) — that is, a key numerical value (like age or number of days) when the Action Trigger would be applicable. For example, the Service File Inactivity Action Trigger requires that you define the duration that would be considered inactivity in a Service File (i.e. the number of days since the last Service Event).

Example Action Trigger requiring defining parameters


Action Triggers are organized into categories based on features in Penelope — i.e. where the action takes place or where the relevant data is stored in Penelope.

The list of Action Trigger Rule Categories including Case, Funder, Group, Group Event, Individual, Policy and Coverage, Pre-Enrollment, Referral, Service Event, Service File, and System Admin

For example, to notify staff that a certain amount of time has passed since they’ve last booked an Event with a client, you would choose Service File as the Rule Category as that data is found at the Service File level.

Action Triggers

Each Category includes several Action Triggers based on the data available in that category. For example, to notify staff when a new client has been assigned to them, you would choose Service File is created as the action that takes place.

Example list of Action Trigger Types using Service File

You can review the complete list of available Action Triggers for more information about each option.


When scanning through the list of Action Trigger types for a particular category, you’ll notice that the Action Triggers are grouped into three classifications: Action, Monitoring, and Time-based. It’s important to understand the distinction between each class as they impact how and when a triggered message is sent.


Action Triggers classified as Action are messages sent when a user completes an action or process. For example:

  • Adding a new record to Penelope (a new Case, Service File, or Pre-Enrollment entry, etc.)

  • Modifying a record (reassigning a Service File to another worker, setting an Event status to rescheduled, etc.)

  • Changing the status of a record (closing a Service File, reopening a Case, etc.)

When a Worker completes the action, a message is sent to the defined recipient.


Action Triggers classified as Monitoring are messages sent when defined criteria are met at any point (i.e. not only when a record is first created). The system monitors for when the criteria are met. For example:

  • A Pre-Enrollment Entry was logged and the Priority is later changed to a specific value.

  • Adding a Safety or Financial Concern flag to an Individual’s profile

  • When a user defined field is set to a specified criterion.

Penelope monitors the state of the record and sends a message when the criteria are met. In situations where multiple criteria are defined, the Action Trigger would only fire when all criteria are met.


Action Triggers classified as Time-based are messages that are sent after the passage of a specified period of time (1 hour, 24 hours, 90 days, etc.). Time-based Action Triggers are run as part of Penelope’s nightly routine.


The Description provides context for what you might use the Action Trigger for and when it would send a message to recipients. This is a system-generated field.


You can specify Criteria (i.e. specific scenarios) when an Action Trigger is fired. For example, if you typically like to notify your Billing Department when a new client starts with your agency so they can configure their Policy and Coverage information, you can create a Service File is created

Action Trigger Rule Criteria

Action Trigger for the department. However, if only certain services are billed through a funder, you can specify that Action Trigger is only applicable to a specific list of services by setting up Rule Criteria.

Criteria are based on information in Penelope relevant to the Action Trigger type. For example, Service Event-based Action Triggers could include Criteria in Service Event, Service File, Worker, Individual, Funder, and Policy and Coverage categories.

The specific types of fields available as Criteria are those captured in radio buttons, drop-downs, and multi-select lists and span both built-in fields (Event Status, Site, DSS fields, etc.) as well as user defined fields.

What Action to Take

The What Action to Take section defines what action or type of message you want to send to Workers: a Notification, Alert, or Workflow (task).


A Notification is a message that includes a subject and body — these messages appear as popups in Penelope and fade away after a short period of time. Notifications are intended to contain information that is less critical in nature.

Example Notification message

Notifications that have faded away can always be found in the Collaboration Suite in the Messages section.


An Alert is another type of message that includes a subject and body, however, they appear as popup in Penelope and will stay in the top right corner of the screen until the Worker acknowledges the message by clicking it.

Example Alert message

Dismissed alerts can always be reviewed in the Collaboration Suite > Messages section.


A Workflow is a message notifying you of a task that has been assigned to you.

Example Workflow message

Tasks appear in the Workflow component of the Collaboration Suite as well as in the Workflow sidebar for the attached record (if applicable).

There are five types of tasks that you can send

  • Approval: Requires that the recipient provide or deny approval for the assigned task.

  • Checklist: Creates multiple sub-tasks which can include Approval, General, New Document, or Review items.

  • General: Assigns regular, everyday tasks within the organization that the recipient can mark as complete when finished.

  • New Document: Assigns workers a specific Document to complete in Penelope.

  • Review: Requires that the recipient review and sign-off on the task.

What Action to Take window for Action Triggers

Who Receives the Action

Best Practice

Always ensure you populate your Worker Categories with relevant Workers to ensure messages are received.

The Who Receives the Action section defines who receives the message. Depending on which Action Trigger category you select, you can choose to send the message to members of a Worker Category or specific workers (for example, the Primary Worker, the subordinates of the Primary Worker, all Workers assigned to the record, etc.).

Who Receives the Action window for Action Triggers

Depending on the Action Trigger you select, you may only have the option of selecting a Worker Category. The Other field lists Workers who have some relationship to the record type the Action Trigger is based on. In the case of a Service File-based Action Trigger, you have Workers assigned to the Service File while other types of records like Policies don’t have an assigned Worker.

Process Flow: Building an Action Trigger

This topic outlines the basic steps you’ll take to create an Action Trigger to give you a general understanding of what the process entails. For detailed information about each step, see the Building Action Triggers topic.

Step 1: Choose which Action Trigger you want to create

In this step, you’ll create the basic outline for your Action Trigger including:

  • Rule Category

  • Action Trigger type

  • Rule Name

  • Defining Parameters (if applicable)

Example Action Trigger requiring defining parameters

Step 2: Define any Criteria

Once you’ve outline the basic options for your Action Trigger, you can begin to specify Criteria

Action Trigger Rule Criteria

(i.e. specific scenarios) when an Action Trigger is fired.

Step 3: What Action to Take

Next, you can determine what type of message you want to send to Workers. When sending an Alert or Notification, you can set the Title, Priority, and Body of the message. When sending a Workflow, you can additionally choose the type of task, the assignee, and due date.

What Action to Take window for Action Triggers

Step 4: Who Receives the Action

Next, you can configure who receives the message. Depending on which Action Trigger category you select, you can choose to send the message to all members of a Worker Category or specific Workers.

Who Receives the Action window for Action Triggers

Step 5: Enable the Action Trigger

Finally, you’ll enable the Action Trigger to make it active in Penelope!

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