One of the many headaches shared by users is the inane amount of manual processes they need to undertake to accomplish simple tasks. For those of you who already have SharePoint, one of the biggest features would’ve been the automating of tasks to rid yourselves of the laborious manual alternative. However – if you want SharePoint to do your bidding, for example on document management, you need to tell it exactly what to do. If you’re already using SharePoint and the automation of workflow isn’t working out, you may want to recalibrate how you automate your processes – we’ll give you some quick wins below on how you can do this.
Start out with something visual
Creating a visual illustration of how you want your processes to be automated can help hugely in trying to understand how it’ll work (and how efficient it’ll be). This way, you can measure the process from start to finish and during the process you can implement your own ‘stop points’ – such as authorisation from another user in the chain before the process can continue. You may also want to build in notifications that get sent to various users, or a contingency outcome when a document gets rejected along the chain.
It can be frustrating waiting on somebody else to complete a task before you can complete the rest of your work. Applying a well-designed workflow alleviates this problem, but remember, NOT to push all approval through one user – it can cause major bottlenecks.
Use Microsoft Flow to help with automation
Don’t ignore other Office 365 apps because you’re unsure of what they can do. Microsoft Flow works well with SharePoint, and if you’re looking to automate processes on a larger scale, then it’s going to be one of the most useful tools in the Microsoft suite.
Whether it’s capturing tweets and adding them as leads to Dynamics 365, or synchronising approval-type documents such as holiday requests with your existing systems – Microsoft Flow can help. Another plus is if you have Office 365 then you’ll already have access to it, so no need for a third-party plug in.
PowerApps is a service for building and using custom business apps that connect to your data and work across the web and mobile – without the time and expense of custom software development. Yet another Microsoft product, PowerApps can give you a quick win with time saving (especially for data management).
Keep governance in mind
Automation is great, however it can be easy to forget who’s got permission to what. If a policy changes and the process in place needs changing, you need to consider all parts of the process – especially the automated bits. Do you need to change permissions, or add in some extra points within the processes, such as notifications to certain people.
Nothing is set in stone
It’s understandable that once you’ve implemented an automation process, you may feel as if you can’t undo it. Whilst it may be fiddly to organise permissions and other blockers within the process, you can still make changes later on wherever you need to. SharePoint is a very flexible platform, so if something doesn’t seem to be working you don’t need to start all over again to make it right.
From a records and document management perspective, automation just makes so much sense. No longer will you need to bother with fiddly back-end admin systems that drain your time and energy. In fact, you can check out our guide here on more information for how SharePoint can make your life easier with records and document management.
Automation can be a tricky thing to implement – especially within a big company. However, with Sharepoint, you can make life a lot easier. If you’d like to know some more about quick wins within other areas of SharePoint, we have another guide here that’s worth checking out.