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What is Tonkean?

Tonkean is an adaptive business process platform that connects all of your software into intelligent workflows, all while keeping your most precious asset in the loop: your people!

Tonkean's mission is for people to be doing the highest-level work, not menial and redundant administrative tasks. We like to think of ourselves as the Operating System for Operations teams. Our platform is intuitive, easy to use, and requires no code. That means the people with subject-matter expertise can create and manage automated processes without requiring a development team.

For example, maybe you use a catch-all email address for your legal team ( While many different requests come in to this address, the most common is an NDA request for a prospect. Instead of requiring people to manually reading the email, duplicating the NDA template, copying and pasting the prospect's information, then sending the email the requester, a Tonkean module will read the email, create the document, and then send it to the requester, all behind the scenes, without the need for anyone to be involved.

But what happens if the NDA request wasn't standard? That's where Tonkean keeps people in the loop. The Tonkean module will contact the appropriate user, giving them various actions to take, wherever they like to work (email, Slack, Teams, etc.). Tonkean effectively balances process automation and the people who can handle exceptions to the usual processes to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

The Tonkean platform gets its name from the Tonkean macaque, a species of monkey native to Indonesia. Tonkean macaques are known for working together as a team to resolve conflicts and accomplish their goals. This collaborative spirit is exhibited not only in how Tonkean coordinates systems and people to accomplish a goal, but internally, where the whole Tonkean team pitches in to build and improve the platform.

The Maker Mindset

Before diving in and learning about the technology that makes Tonkean so powerful, it's helpful to first understand the philosophy that powers the platform, what we call the "maker mindset."

The maker mindset is a point of view that makers cultivate as they build and work on the platform—a way of seeing and understanding problems that's powered by a certain technical curiosity and belief that there's always a way.

A maker may not know how to write in any particular programming language, but thanks to no-code technology like Tonkean, they don't have to know; they understand many of the same high-level concepts that programmers use. More than that, they're willing to get their hands dirty. A maker looks at a problem in their organization and thinks "I could probably build something to fix this."

With the maker mindset, you think through a problem or process from different levels, asking a series of questions to help clarify what exactly you're trying to accomplish and then work backward to figure out the steps to get there.

To start developing a maker mindset, you can ask yourself these questions about your process before you start building:

  1. At a high level, what am I trying to accomplish? What is my end goal? This is the overall problem you're working to solve. To return to our legal department example from earlier, this might be providing NDA forms to prospective clients to help cut down on the manual work the legal team has to do.

  2. What information do I need to accomplish my goal? What data or systems do I need access to? Once you know what you're trying to accomplish, you need to determine what data you need. This may be as simple as getting access to an email inbox or as complicated as pulling data together from multiple apps (e.g. pulling content from Salesforce to create a Jira ticket and then notifying a team member of that creation in Slack, etc.). There's no need to detail the connections quite yet—just determine what resources you think you need.

  3. In what order do I need to connect the different apps or systems? How would the process flow from start to finish? You know what information you need and where you need to get that information, and now you need to map out what the flow might look like. It's helpful to figure out where your process can be handled entirely by machines and where you need to keep the people involved. We find that mapping things out with a pencil and paper can be helpful, or even collaborating with your teammates with a whiteboard session. Once you've figured out the overall flow of your solution, you should have a fairly clear idea of what the solution might look like in Tonkean.

  4. Where is my process most likely to break down or run into problems? As a last step before you start actually building, it's important to outline where the problems are likely to come up. For example, if you're monitoring an email inbox for NDA requests, could you run into a problem where the requester uses terms you're not expecting to ask for an NDA? Natural variations in language and even non-native speakers can phrase things in ways you might not anticipate. Or, on the other end of your flow, will you always pull your NDA form from the same place? Or could that change? Heading off some of these problems in the planning stages can pay huge dividends later.

Core Concepts and Common Terms

As a platform, Tonkean is composed of several distinct parts that work together to handle various end-to-end solutions. Understanding these parts and overall architecture of Tonkean will allow you to more effectively organize your connections, connect your data sources, and automate your processes.



A board is the highest point in the Tonkean hierarchy and can contain many solutions. Boards are usually specific to an entire enterprise, with one board containing all the solutions for that enterprise. If your organization has unique needs surrounding business unit structure, reporting needs, or governance, you can organize your content into multiple boards.



The solution is the core of the Tonkean platform: it contains the description of a business problem, the planned and ongoing approach to solve that problem, and all the logic (that is, the modules and integrations) that address the business problem. This also includes the actions and logic, the status and progress of all workflow, and the reporting of each time a workflow runs.

Put simply, a solution allows you to accurately describe a business problem, build out and iterate on a solution to that problem, and respond to ongoing changes.

There are many examples of unique solutions:

  • Employee onboarding

  • Legal operations

  • Order-to-cash process

  • Customer support ticket triage

Typically a single department has one or more solutions depending upon their business requirements for organizational or access control purposes.



Each solution is made of modules. Modules house all the custom workflows, connect all of your data sources together, and give you the power to take actions based on the criteria you set up. Within each module, Tonkean provides you the ability to say "when" an event happens and the actions to take.

Modules are typically built and organized as distinct, operational workflows or automations that orchestrate business processes between people, systems, applications, and data. This organization allows modules to remain simple to understand as they are iterated on and enhanced over time.

For example, a new employee onboarding could have the following modules:

  • Request system access from hiring manager

  • Notifying new hires of mandatory training

  • Create and triage IT tickets for new hires


Data Source

Within each board, you can integrate with as many data sources as you like. These include hundreds of native cloud applications you can connect to using your username and password or API key. Popular integrations include Google Drive, Gmail, Salesforce, Jira, Zendesk, and Slack. For any non-SaaS or non-cloud-based data source you want to connect (such as custom databases or internal APIs), you can leverage webhooks to integrate them seamlessly as custom data sources.

Tonkean monitors these connected data sources for any changes and responds based on the business logic you configure. By integrating directly with your data sources, you can orchestrate complex workflows across multiple systems.


Triggers and Actions

Triggers function like "when" statements. At least one trigger must be created for a module to work, but the trigger can range in complexity from beginning a process when a new item is created (such as a new Salesforce opportunity) to containing numerous "if" statements that target specific conditions (such as only opportunities that fit certain parameters).

Actions are the "then" statements that respond to triggers and represent various processes in Tonkean—everything from moving data between systems to contacting a real human.


Matched Entities

Many records in your systems are related. Matched entities take a piece of data from one system and match it to a piece of data in another system that creates a link for those specific records (for example, you might connect a user name in a Google sheet to a username database to move data between the two places). Once the match has been made, you’re then able to pull in all respective data and metadata from your connected data sources. Matched entities is one of the most flexible and powerful features of Tonkean.


Business Reports

Each module has its own business report, which consists of data columns and respective items your module is monitoring. Business reports look much like a spreadsheet, except they're pulling in data from various source data sources and provide constant monitoring. One reason business reports are so powerful is that each column on a report can be created into key metrics using custom formulas.


Items and Inner-items

Items are the pieces of data that the module will take action on, and inner-items are simply children of items. This is the important data you are constantly monitoring. You can think of items as a row in a spreadsheet, with columns providing important pieces of information about each item. It might have a customer name pulled from Salesforce, that same customer's total payments made amount from Stripe, and their NPS score from Zendesk, all pulled within a single report in Tonkean.



Fields are the individual pieces of data from a data source. In programming terms, fields are like attributes of a complex object, but you can also think of fields as columns in a spreadsheet where the row is the object itself. A field can be data you're pulling in from external entities (Salesforce opportunity name, Salesforce opportunity amount, Intercom Tags, Zendesk ticket number, and so on), or they can be manually created text, number, or date field types.


Key Metrics

These are the formulas and calculations you can aggregate for the data in your data set. Continuing with the spreadsheet example, you might want to do a sum of all your Salesforce opportunity amounts, or a count of all your open Zendesk tickets. These are metrics that dynamically calculate for your entire data set, for which you can then create a report or create modules to take action based on the values of the metrics.


Learn More

To learn more about the basics of Tonkean, visit another one of the spaces below:

If you're ready to build your first modules and begin automating your specific process, see Build Your First Solution.