SharePoint Business Process Management
Why manage Business Processes in SharePoint?
SharePoint can be an excellent fit for managing business processes. Users often have existing experience with SharePoint, or with adjacent technologies such as OneDrive or DropBox. SharePoint as a platform has expansive potential for introducing the latest technologies to your business processes.
When you choose to manage a business process in SharePoint, you are deciding to use a platform that is both simple and deeply extensible.
One core benefit of SharePoint is that it is a world-class solution designed to be the best place to host documents. SharePoint as a platform is deeply integrated with the Office 365 suite of products, including both common business apps such as Word and Excel, but also cutting-edge workflow design tools such as Microsoft Flow. SharePoint is constantly being improved by Microsoft, and has recently benefited from a new, revised 'Modern' experience and interface update.
With SharePoint, lists and document libraries are both enabled for multi-user editing, meaning that many users can edit lists and documents simultaneously through real-time remote collaboration. SharePoint as a collaboration tool means that users can be aware of who else is editing a file, and see their updates in real-time, preventing overwritten changes while both progressing on a shared document together.
External users, such as clients or contractors, can even visit pre-approved secure areas of your corporate SharePoint intranet. Limited to a site, a single list, or even a single folder or file within a document library, you can ensure your guest users can access only what they need to. Settings can limit access to view-only or download-only, or even set permissions to expire after a time duration.
SharePoint is often a great fit for business processes, enabling these processes to reach out to external clients or contractors, and enabling users to simultaneously work on documents together. As a platform, it benefits from constant innovation including and beyond the familiar Office suite of products.
Third-party add-ons such as DocuSign can be leveraged to manage legally-binding approval processes. The completed, signed document is automatically backed up in both SharePoint and DocuSign.
What can we do with SharePoint Business Processes?
With data and documents hosted in SharePoint, the possibilities for improving business processes are nearly limitless. Using Microsoft's cutting-edge workflow technology, we can implement anything from dashboards to keep workers apprised of the status of their business processes, to semi-automations which can make repetitive or standardized tasks easier to execute.
Depending on whether the process is document-centric or not, we will set up the business process as either a list or a library. Then, using additional columns or 'metadata' (data about data—for instance the status of a document) we can set up a wide variety of workflow actions or triggers.
Workflow triggers can include, but are certainly not limited to dates. For instance, if a document exceeds or comes within a week of its due date, send a reminder to a user. This method can be used for managing contract renewals — alerting the responsible role of a required action when it comes time to do so.
Another example is timesheets. Using SharePoint forms, users can submit timesheets to a SharePoint list, complete with hours details or hours allocations per-project. These entries can then be filed per pay period according to the date of the timesheet, and even filed according to project. Calculated summaries can be extracted to show hours worked per user per project.
SharePoint offers nearly limitless opportunities for managing business processes collaboratively. We often mix, match, and customize existing actions provided by Microsoft to suit your process precisely.