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SharePoint: New Packaging Requests in a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-01.jpgThis is yet another example of streamlining a process where incomplete information was given via various channels.

What was the problem?

One of our global brands was struggling with their packaging process. Being in the fast-moving consumer goods business, there were always many new products being introduced and many promotions going on at any given time. Very often (such as: “now 20% extra!”) this meant that a new packaging had to be designed and printed.

For reasons of cost-efficiency and standardization, all packaging from one brand had to be centrally purchased. The purchasing manager was receiving incomplete information through various channels. Next to that, the requests were often received too late to allow the supplier the necessary lead time. Consolidating all information and ordering exactly the right amount of the right product at the right time was therefore not an easy task. I assume you will recognize this2013-11-10-NewPackaging-02.gif.

What is the solution?

You take one Team Site, as per my usual recipe2013-11-10-NewPackaging-02.gif.

We have turned an Excel form (which was used occasionally) into a Team Site custom list.

We made use of mandatory fields to force people to add information they often forget, such as the budget number, or whether the seconday packaging needs to be changed temporarily as well.

A calculated field is used to determine the deadline for artwork. So, if you want your new packaging to be ready on October 1, you MUST deliver your packaging designs before August 1. This was one of the more frequent problems. With the new process, delivering late is no longer allowed.

A workflow allows the purchasing manager to check if all details have been entered correctly. All approved requests are visible to all members.

The packaging supplier has read-access to the Team Site. The official ordering is done in the supplier’s system.

What are the benefits?

Although marketeers did not really like the limitation of their freedom, (especially where artwork deadlines were concerned), the new process has had many benefits for the total organization:

  • The process has saved time for the purchasing manager because she now receives complete and correct information.
  • All artwork is now being delivered on time, reducing last-minute stress for all. This is more a result of the implementation of the process, rather than the Team Site itself, of course.
  • The purchasing manager can now combine different requests and get better conditions.
  • The supplier knows beforehand what he can expect.
  • All requests are creating a large database. Marketeers in different locations can see what their colleagues are doing or have done, so they can share experiences with a certain action, or combine a promotion and therefore save costs.

Once again, this is not rocket science, it does not even use sophisticated new code, it is just regular SharePoint with a bit of thinking.

This screenshot shows the data entry screen.

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-03.gif
New Request Data Entry

Below you see the Homepage with all approved requests on the left, for everyone to see and share. On the right, a web part with only My Requests waiting for confirmation. (In the real situation, this would be all My Requests, but since I have created all requests, I had to use another filter to show a difference2013-11-10-NewPackaging-04.gif.

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-05.gif

SharePoint: News Translations in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

This example may be interesting for Communication employees in multinational organizations.

What was the problem?

As in many international companies, the company language is English. Most people can read that, but general survey feedback showed that employees would really appreciate to read important business news in their own language.

So the Communications team decided that those messages would be translated into 14 different languages. Hiring an external translation agency was easy, but how to handle all those primary, draft and final documents (some of which were unintelligible for the Comms team) without getting confused?

What is the solution?

We set up an external Team Site with 2 libraries:

  • One library for the primary document, in English. The agency set an Alert (Added Documents, Immediately) so they know when they have to start translating.
  • One library for the translations. The agency uploads the translations to this library, using a special naming convention, adding the language as metadata, so we can group the documents by language.
    Designated local employees then check the translations, making sure that the texts fit country and company culture. These employees have set an Alert (Added Items, Daily) so they know when they have to correct a document. They can make changes online. When a translation is OK, a box is “final” is checked.
    (Since the Alert can not distinguish beteen languages, we suggest a Daily e-mail to avoid getting too many irrelevant emails)
  • Communications has also set an Alert to the Translations library, to monitor progress. (All Changes, Daily)

All documents with”the “final” checkbox are made visible to employees in special views by language.

(for advanced users: in a separate Team Site we have created one Web Part Page per language, and “project” the documents, filtered by language, on that page using Corasworks)

What are the benefits?

This setup is not ideal, since the information is still hidden in documents and there are no Alerts per language. A truely online process with targeted news in the correct translation on people’s Homepage would be better, but that is not available at this moment. Still, this setup does help to streamline the process:

  • All documents are in one place.
  • Notification emails that “you have work to do” are being sent automatically.
  • Documents are properly tagged with metadata.
  • No confusion with loads of documents in individual emails.
  • The data can be used for KPI’s, such as turnaround time, learning curve of the translation agency, and projected costs.

Another example of how some thinking and experience with SharePoint can solve those all-too-common business problems!

This is the Source library, containing the original English document:

2013-11-03-EmployeeDirectory-01.png
Source Library, containing the original English documents.

And this is the Target Library, where the translations can be uploaded.

2013-11-03-EmployeeDirectory-02.png
Library for the translated documents

SharePoint: Employee Directory and a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

Maria was one of our most dedicated administrators of the Employee Directory. She was working in one of our larger locations, and she was very motivated to keep her part of the Directory up-to-date. If you saw an employee profile from her location, you could trust it would be 100% accurate. Being that dedicated also took her a lot of time. So she asked me if there was a solution to her chasing everyone for the correct information.

What was the problem?

The Employee Directory was not (yet) connected to another system, so it had to be updated manually.

Maria’s location included many manufacturing and marketing employees, who changed jobs frequently. She received information about changes from various channels: e-mail, documents (via e-mail or snail mail). chat, fax, telephone and visits to her desk. Hardly anyone provided the full set of details needed, so she always had to ask people for the additional information.

What is the solution?

We set up a simple SharePoint custom list for her, in local language. We used pre-filled Choice or Lookup columns where possible, to make it easy for the requester and guarantee consistent information. We made two views: “In Progress” (default), and “Completed”.

Maria set an Alert (Added Items, Daily Summary) so every morning she knew the changes she had to make.

When she had made the required change for one person, she would tick the box “completed” in the request and the item would move to the “Completed” view. This way she always knew which requests were still waiting for her, and she also had an archive of finished requests.

What are the benefits?

  • Maria saved time, because the information she received was complete. There was no longer any need to chase someone for missing information.
  • The business was happy, because the changes were processed faster, making the Directory more accurate and trustworthy. (Of course they grumbled a little when they were confronted with a new process, but Maria sold the benefits very well – and simply refused to process any request via another channel2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-01.gif)
  • Many employees were now working in SharePoint lists, and this sparked ideas for other applications.
  • This was a very generic process which could be replicated to other locations easily. So even though this project did not generate many financial benefits, the project had a high priority because it was a very reproducible solution.

Another inefficient process was streamlined with little effort!

Please find below some re-created screenshots.

2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-02.gif

2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-03.gif

SharePoint: Telesales in a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-10-20-Telesales-01.jpgOne of the teams spends their days making telephone calls to customers, asking them about a brochure or telling them about a new product or a special offer. This team has many calls to make each day, the more the better!

All phone numbers were in an Excel file, which was shared in a Team Site. Every Call Agent looked through the Excel file for the numbers assigned to them, and after the call edited the line item with the outcome of the call, as well as changes in information that they had learned during the call. (E.g. new contact person, change in telephone number).

What was the problem?

  • Opening the file and finding their assigned phone numbers took a long time.
  • Editing the item and saving the information caused waiting time (if the file was checked out by another call agent) or overwriting issues, (if a call agent forgot to check out)
  • All customers were in the file, whether they had been called or not
  • Management was always asking “how things were going” because they were curious and nobody had an overview of progress or results. This meant Call Agents had to spend time on ad-hoc reporting, which took time away from their calling time

What is the solution?

We opened up the Excel file by importing the data into a pre-configured Issue list in a Team Site. We created different views, such as:

  • New calls to be made, as well as call-back appointments, grouped by Call Agent
  • Completed calls, grouped by Result Code for a quick overview with sums (e.g. Appointment, Not interested, Business Discontinued, Offer)
  • Export view to export the data back into an Excel file for detailed analysis

By removing the finished calls to a different view, every call agent can see quickly which and how many calls he or she needs to make, without making mistakes.

We also added some real-time Excel graphs for management, so they can see progress and outcome of any promotional action in real-time. These graphs can also be used to evaluate the Call Agents’ performance and to share tips for a succesful approach between Call Agents.

What are the benefits?

  • Call Agents know exactly which customers to call or follow-up; editing a line item is much faster than editing a file so they can do their work more quickly
  • Call Agents make less mistakes in calling a customer twice or overwriting someone else’s edits
  • Management has a real-time overview of progress and outcomes, and they can see that without bothering the Call Agents
  • It is now possible to see progress as you go along, enabling the Marketing Manager to make adjustments during the promotion
  • It is clear which Call Agent is most succesful, which enables exchange of good practices between Call Agents

All in all, this simple Issue list has enabled the Call agents to make TWICE as many calls a day as before!

So, small wonder that other departments have embraced this solution as well – by now there are 3 teams calling in this way.

Another succesful cure for Document Addiction!2013-10-20-Telesales-02.gif

Please find a screenshot below, this shows the real-time Result Codes (e.g. Call, Written Proposal Requested, Meeting Requested, Already Bought This; Not Interested etc.) on the horziontal axis. Vertical is the count of this result code. The graph is slightly distorted because screenshot was made early in the Action, when there were still many calls (3344) to be made.

2013-10-20-Telesales-03.gif

Below is a screenshot of the results by Call Agent. On the horizontal axis the names of the individual Call Agents, on the vertical axis their stack of different result codes. This enables management to monitor both their productivity (# calls made) and their effectiveness (# of calls that have a favourable result). Please note that Call Agents do not all work fulltime.

2013-10-20-Telesales-04.gif

SharePoint: CRM in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool – Content Matrix by Metalogix


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

One of the most successful “SharePoint solutions” has been the Incident Log of one of the APAC companies. It was built to be a temporary (1.5 years) site to solve an urgent business problem, until SAP would provide the proper CRM functionality. Due to postponement of the SAP rollout, it is still heavily used today (more than 3 years later). The site is praised for its user-friendliness and transparency. In fact, rumors are that users are NOT looking forward to changing this system to SAP 2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-01.gif

What was the problem?

The country’s Customer Service Desk received their customer complaints in various ways: from 7 different systems, via email, snail mail, telephone, fax and by going to the Customer Service desk. Information provided was seldom complete, and there was no central system or agreed process to log and manage complaints. Many complaints were lost during the process, and if they were not, turnaround could vary from 2 weeks to 2 years.

All complaints were reimbursed to the customer, because it was almost impossible to properly investigate a complaint.

There was no insight in root causes of complaints, so it was not easy to make any improvements to systems or processes.

What is the solution?

The country organized a workshop with all involved disciplines, describing the current and the desired process. The Business Process Owner Order-to-Cash and I worked together to turn an Issue List into a streamlined Incident Logging, Processing and Managing system, that would enable all involved parties (Customer Services, Quality Assurance, Warehouse Managers, Finance, and even the external Transport Company) to quickly add, review and edit information. Every complaint was one list item.

On the Home Page an overview of all open incidents, and their accumulated value, are shown as a very high-level dashboard.

2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-02.gif
The Homepage is dashboard for open incidents and process information.

We added some Corasworks tricks, such as a Search function and an automated email that would copy much of the Incident’s information into an email to the transporter, in case a delivery had to be taken back to the Warehouse.

Of course, with a major process like this, it took a long time to get this realized. But as usual, thinking was the most work. What is the current process? Where does it hurt? What is the best flow? How can we make it complete, but keep it simple and workable? How do we train people? How do we manage changes? How do we make this truly a part of a new way of working? The BPO and I spent long hours discussing both the process and the functional implementation.

2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-03.gif
First part of the data entry screen.

What are the benefits?

  • The country now has one database for all Incidents, enabling different ways to sort, group or filter: by Product, by Complaint Type, by Customer, Open for longer than 2 weeks, etc.
  • Key Performance Indicators have been agreed and can be monitored.
  • System and process are agreed and transparent, eliminating the need to discuss the process repeatedly
  • Turnaround time has decreased to as low as 2 hours due to more insight and less handling
  • Due to the better insight it has been possible to improve processes and performance. One transport company has already been discontinued since they caused many problems. Others have been given a warning. Changes have been made in the factory to solve certain issues. This has decreased the total number of Incidents by about one-third.
  • Significantly less money has to be paid to customers. Now that the process has been agreed, it is easier to assign responsibility. If the customer has caused the problem, no money is reimbursed. If the transport company has caused the problem, they have to pay.

All in all, this Team Site has saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and there is much less discussion about the process.

SharePoint: Facebook in a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

“We need something like Facebook’s the Wall”, one of our Field Sales Managers told me. It was interesting to see that a popular external tool was triggering people to think about a similar solution in the company. They could not use Facebook because their information is confidential, but by describing it in that way, it visualized their needs very clearly.

What was the problem?

It turned out that 16 Sales Managers, all working outside the office, had a habit of sending a daily report of their store visits, including pictures, to all 15 colleagues + Manager + 10 back-office employees, by email.

You can guess the situation: everyone stored lots of emails, with the information hidden in documents, not tagged or categorized, and their email boxes were all too large because of all the pictures. So, what they needed was one central place where they could upload their Sales Memo’s and pictures, and where the back-office could find all reports per customer, or on a certain category.

What is the solution?

Well, we did not have Facebook, but we could do that in a Team Site. I used an Announcement list for the Sales Memo’s, adding mandatory customer and category dropdown fields, and a Picture Library was added for the pictures (also with customer dropdown).

2013-10-03-FacebookTeamSite-01.gif

I added a search function and told everyone how to set a Daily Summary Alert, to enable everyone to know if something had happened.

The last 5 Sales Memo’s were shown on the Homepage, with the name of the creator, which triggered all Sales Managers into adding all their Sales Memo’s immediately. This little vanity trick helped speed up adoption!

2013-10-03-FacebookTeamSite-02.gif

What are the benefits?

  • Less emails sent & stored
  • A central transparant database is created
  • Information is easily searchable due to the customer and category metadata
  • Less time and irritation while searching

And when it was properly implemented, the Field Sales Manager asked me another question…but that will be another Blog item. 2013-10-03-FacebookTeamSite-03.gif

Do you have an example where a popular tool shows people the way to working more efficiently? Please share it!

SharePoint: Teleconference requests in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool – Content Matrix by Metalogix


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-09-27-Teleconferences-01.jpgThis is another example of how you can work with external partners via a Team Site.

What was the problem?

The company I used to work for was a big fan of conference calls, with or without a Live Meeting. We were facing some issues:

  • Computer audio did not alway provide good quality, so for calls with 3 or more people it was better to use a ”teleconference bridge”: a set of telephone numbers (one per country) with a unique entry code per meeting. Many employees, departments or project teams had their own permanent conference bridge.
  • Many employees did not use the preferred supplier, often because they did not know we had one or who it was.
  • It was not very clear how one could obtain a conference bridge.
  • Additionally, the Telecom department was unaware of the amount of conference bridges in use, and who owned one.

It was time for the Telecom department to give more attention to the request process.

One of the teams developed a form in HTML, which automatically added your Employee ID. Neat! After completion the form sent an email to the Telecom department. Telecom then added the Cost Center number, and forwarded the email to the telecom provider. However, the form was on a local server which could not be accessed by everyone, and the emails had to be manually stored by Telecom as individual requests, making it difficult to create overviews. For other locations, there was a manual process where you contacted Telecom and they completed another form.

They asked my team if this process could be improved. And guess what…it could! 2013-09-27-Teleconferences-02.gif

What is the solution?

The HTML-form was replaced by a Custom List in the employee-facing team site for all IT-related questions and information.

Every requester enters their Employee ID manually, but since you make this request only once (this being a permanent conference bridge), this is not perceived as a problem. I modified the “New Entry” URL so upon completion, the requester goes to a page with the next steps of the process. (Read here how to modify the URL, scroll to 2f.)

The Telecom department has set an Alert for Added Items, so they know about all new requests immediately. They enter the Cost Center code to the request and then the form is ready for the telecom provider.

Of course I suggested to set up an Alert for Modified Items for the telecom provider, but after some tests and discussions we decided to send the content of the request as an email to the provider with cc to the requester. (via Corasworks)

By using ”Reply All” the telecom provider then sends the conference numbers and other information to both the requester and the Telecom department.

2013-09-27-Teleconferences-03.jpg
The part of the form that employees have to complete.

2013-09-27-Teleconferences-04.jpg
The part that Telecom has to enter.

When “Send Email” is “Yes”, Corasworks will send the content of the mail to the provider’s email address. That field does not have a default value to avoid accidental sending of incomplete content.

What are the benefits?

  • The request form is much easier to find and the process is more transparent; this means more people use the preferred way, saving costs and reducing complexity.
  • The Telecom department saves time on entering and managing requests.
  • Telecom department has an overview of the number of bridges in use, and who owns a bridge. This helps them to check if the invoices are correct.

I would have preferred to just give access to the telecom provider, and ask them to add the bridge number to the original request. That would have given the Telecom department even more information without them having to do anything. But well, you can’t always win2013-09-27-Teleconferences-05.gif.

You may also like to read about these examples where we used Team Sites with external partners:

High Tea Reservations
Crisis Management
New Packaging Requests

Another 4 processes to streamline with SharePoint


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-09-20-4ProcessesStreamline-01.jpgIn an earlier post, I discussed 4 very common time-consuming processes that you can make more efficient by using SharePoint. But I guess that the next 4, although perhaps less common, still occur quite often.

You can make your project managers, your business venture managers and your IT department very happy if you can show them that you can facilitate these processes with a SharePoint Team Site.

5. Corporate projects needing input from many countries/businesses

Forget sending large status updates in PowerPoint or Excel per email. For large central projects, use a site where you can collect the status updates from every country or business in a list. If you need security, or want to allow that country or business to share their project documents and other information, you can use a site collection instead, where every country of business has their own site. You can use a Content Query Webpart to collect all updates in another site for the Project Manager.

It helps to create one page where the collective progress is shown – you may lose confidentiality but it will reduce the time needed to create reports and it will help the business to see how their own efforts contribute to the projects’ or company’s goal. Of course everyone will be able to set alerts.

All this will reduce inbox overload, make the project progress much more transparent and save the Project Manager lots of time in reporting.

Some examples:

  • Centralizing the organization
  • Capturing procurement terms and conditions
  • Local milestones for a divestiture
  • Action plans following the global employee satisfaction survey
  • A global sustainability project

Example: PMO in a Team Site

6. Business experiments

Why spend time and money on dedicated software if you are not 100% sure that your new business venture will be successful? Start with a process in SharePoint and see how things turn out. It will perhaps not do everything you think you need, but as you work with it you will learn more about your eventual software needs, helping you to define better requirements. And if your pilot fails, you do not have to add software costs to your losses.

Example: High Tea Reservations.

7. Temporary pre-ERP solutions

If your “Problem Process” is not yet in scope for your ERP-system, why not check if you can move it to SharePoint before making the leap to ERP? It may not be the ideal solution, but you may be able to iron out those process wrinkles, which will make your process more efficient now. And moving to your ERP-system later will be less painful because you have a better process to start with.

Example: CRM in a Team Site, now with screenshots!

8. Legacy processes

Chances are that you still have a few of those one-trick-ponies from the nineties or noughties in your application portfolio. The companies that created them have merged ten times or gone bust, there are no updates or support, the manual is lost, the user interface is outdated and they may even need separate log-on. This is a good opportunity to free up a server, use the regular support system, apply SSO and a familiar look-and-feel and generally reduce complexity.

We have used an InfoPath solution to replace an outdated Idea Submission programme, and replaced a visit-pass-request-system by a simple Custom List.

All these examples will help with “The daily dose of SharePoint” that your employees need to become more familiar with SharePoint. The more different uses of SharePoint they see, the more they will learn that SharePoint is a versatile tool that you can use every day, for almost every process.

SharePoint: Travel Arrangements in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: fpweb.net


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

In my previous post I realized that I did not have an example of data collection via Excel files, so here is one.

Are you on the receiving end of Excel files that you have to complete and return? Isn’t that annoying?

  • You have to open the file, enter the data, save the document on your PC, open email, pick file from your PC and then return it to the sender.
  • The sender has to spend lots of time on aggregating the different Excel files into one. He or she has to deal with changes.
  • Then you have to wait until the sender shares all information with you, as well as versions 2 and 3 etc. – if he or she ever does.

What was the situation?

Our HR team organized a global business development training several times a year, for a number of employees from all over the world. It was done in a central location. The training manager wanted to share preparation materials, as well as documentation and an evaluation for after the training, in a Team Site.

What is the solution?

The first step was to create a Team Site for the curriculum (calendar), the pre-reading material (document library) and pictures and bios of the attendees (picture library). After the training, the documentation would be added in another document library.

The training manager started saying “For our evaluation I always use SurveyMo…” but she stopped quickly when she saw the expression on my face2013-09-13-TravelArrangements-01.gif.

I added a SharePoint survey to the site.

2013-09-13-TravelArrangements-02.pngThen she told me she was going to send out the customary Excel file to collect travel and diet details. She was not looking forward to that, because it meant a lot of cutting and pasting information. Then there were always changes to the schedules after she had completed and shared the consolidated file. Surely she could spend her time on better things!

So, in the Training Team Site we created a custom list with the relevant fields.

Now, with the introduction of the site to the participants she also sent a link to the Travel Arrangements list, where everyone could add (and edit) their own information. We added a “count” on various diet preferences, so she knew how many of which diets were needed. We showed people how to filter the data to find attendees from the same country or with a similar schedule, allowing sharing a taxi or meeting up before or after the event.

I showed the manager how to set an Alert and how to export the information to Excel.

2013-09-13-TravelArrangements-03.gif
The complete Travel Data Entry screen.

2013-09-13-TravelArrangements-04.gif
All entries, allowing people to see eachother’s travel schedule. Clicking on a person’s name shows all details, such as flight number etc.

2013-09-13-TravelArrangements-05.gif
Entries by dietary requirements. This was a useful view for catering.

After the training we created a template from the site to use for other instances of this training.

What are the benefits?

  • Sharing all documentation via a Team Site saves email traffic – there are no large attachments and everybody knows where the documentation is
  • The participants can manage their own travel schedule and can always see everyone else’s, allowing all kinds of interaction
  • The training manager saves time with the travel arrangements because all information is added to the list and she only has to export the information if she needs it as a document
  • Since we turned the site into a site template her next trainings will save her even more time because the configuration is done and the standard information is already in the template
  • The participants are being exposed to a variety of SharePoint functionality

Using a SharePoint list for the travel arrangements is only a small process change, but it is another example of how you can save time and effort with SharePoint.

4 Common processes that SharePoint can streamline


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-09-06-SharePointProcesses-01.jpgSo your organization has a SharePoint intranet. Your Communications team has done their best by creating and executing a communication plan including a teaser video, a naming contest (Check out this collection for inspiration), emails, intranet news articles and posters. They have given you a training and perhaps a nice gadget like a pen, a mug or a USB stick. The intranet is here and it will be used for news, blogs, video, employee services, policies and procedures. Oh yes, and you can have Team Sites for collaboration. Good luck with it, folks!

But how often does an employee change their personal details online? How often do they go and find a policy? How many video’s will they upload? If they do these things only occasionally, they will never learn how SharePoint can help them in their daily work.

Few people know that SharePoint is very good at streamlining those annoying little processes that have been wasting your time for ages. Here is a list of processes that can be found in every organization, where SharePoint can add value by saving time and effort.

1. Recurring projects

Many projects occur regularly and follow the same procedures. Think about innovations, promotion campaigns, year plans and recalls.

You can create a tailor-made subsite and make a template out of it. If you use this in one site collection you will be able to create a ready-to-use team site for every project in almost no time, have all projects in one place and support consistency in your process.

Example: Crisis Management

2. Requests with incomplete data coming from multiple channels

How often do people send you a request, by plain email, telephone, or Word/Excel document? And how often do you have to contact them again to ask for missing information?

Depending on the complexity, you can use a simple SharePoint list, an Office template in a Document Library, or an InfoPath form in a Forms Library, with mandatory fields. As additional advantage SharePoint stores all your requests in one central place, so you do not have to spend time on filing them. You can even add a filter to show only those requests you still have to process. The finished requests can be used to gain insights in your process.

Examples: Employee Directory and Packaging Requests

3. Editing an online Excel file by many people at the same time

When several people are updating one Excel sheet in a document library, especially when this has to be done in a short period, e.g. at the end of the reporting period, you are asking for problems.

  • If you use mandatory check-out, editors may forget to check-in and you will have to chase people to check-in or to override the check-out yourself.
  • If you do not use mandatory check-out before editing, chances are that people edit the file simultaneously and overwrite each other’s changes.

Why not use a list, where everyone can update their own line items independently from others? Not only will it save problems, but you will also have much more transparency and better overviews if you do not “hide" your data in a document.

Example: Telesales

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Checked-Out Document

4. Collecting data by sending (Excel) files to a large audience

This is still a favourite process in many organizations. As the process owner who asks people to complete a form by the end of the month, you will have many files to chase and store. Then you have to spend your valuable time cutting and pasting the information into a report before the due date.

If you use a list to collect the information, you will have less inbox overload (just a small alert email when someone adds their information will do) and much more time to spend on analyzing your data and setting a strategy. That is what they hired you for, after all! And the results will be more transparent to your audience.

In fact, you may not even need that report at all…

Example: Travel arrangements in a Team Site

Do you recognize these situations? Could you please share some examples of how you have handled these processes with SharePoint? All tangible examples help us to help our colleagues save time and effort.