Using SharePoint to improve business processes and workflows

For years, experts in the SharePoint world have long touted the platform’s virtues that are related to how quickly information workers (users) can find their content start working on their content faster by using a number of SharePoint tools including Search and Document Library views. While the Out-of-the-Box tools are great to utilize for streamlining the findability process, they are not in any way connected with the quality of the final content of the documents.

Many organizations are tasked with creating content for widespread consumption around an organization. Some prime examples include articles that are generated for public-facing employees. For example, these would be the employees in roles such as customer service center reps, salespeople, and other types of widespread field personnel who require fast access to high quality internally created articles that help them perform their roles effectively and offer their clients fast and accurate service.

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When organizations deal with the day to day creation, updates, and overall management of these articles, they can typically find themselves at odds with how to go about tracking and reporting on the articles themselves. On top of this problem, the articles themselves are normally requested by employees within the organizations who are the chief consumers of the articles themselves. Sometimes, document review committees are set up to help ensure the quality of the published articles. These groups are an important part of the review process because without having structured teams to review content, the most robust and accurate system will be rendered pointless.

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Tracking to Ensure Quality

To address the subset of common business problems from a systems perspective, it is important to ensure a tracking mechanism is in place to automate the capture of key information at important steps along the way as the article is in development before being subsequently published for consumption. Tracking mechanisms can be effectively handled by the use of forms and workflows.

Designing the Workflow

Once requirements have been captured, a workflow can be designed. Strong workflow design patterns should include the ability for dynamic business rules to be generated as needed. There is an increasingly large demand for workflows to adapt to the requirements “on-the-fly” with flexibility in mind. For example, educational articles could be of types “business program training” or it could be of type “systems training.” Both types of articles might need to be reviewed and approved by a minimum of 3 different groups within the organization. However, the “systems” training article might also require extra steps to test user interface and database transactions information and walk through are accurate. If this is the case, the 3 groups might turn into 5 groups who need to review and approve. Alternatively, there might be a need for only user interface testing which would mean only 4 groups need to be involved in the approval cycle. The systems should to adapt to these use cases.

As well as the group review processes depicted above, there might also be a need for the article’s owning department to undergo its own management of the approval process. Whatever the requirements related to document/article management, the processes can be driven from within SharePoint. The business process is normally driven by an initial article request that can lead to the automatic generation of tasks and documents:

  1. Request Submitted
  2. Request Approved or Declined
  3. Approved Request creates assignments for designated personnel
  4. Designated personnel can manage the process of the articles to ensure accuracy
  • Critical date tracking is in place for reporting output
  • Various personnel can be associated with the review process as the article makes its way through the workflow
  • Each article can obey flexible business rules to ensure that some steps can be performed and others left out where required (determined on a per article basis)

Once article is fully reviewed and approved, it is automatically published by designated personnel into the Article Library which stores all the documents

We have over 28 years experience in applying technology to improve processes. Please call us if you’d like to learn how Kiefer can help your organization. Our office number is (916) 932-7220. We look forward to talking with you.

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