Earlier I have shown you some examples of external business partners being able to read (New packaging requests), or edit (CRM) list items in a Team Site. This time I would like to show you an example where an external partner creates the new item. Not because that is technically very impressive (although it means a lot of testing from a home PC and a test account with no admin rights), but because it shows once again that you can do this type of thing in SharePoint, without having to invest in another tool with a different interface, different support model and what not.
What was the opportunity?
Since this was a new process rather than an existing inefficient process, let’s use another header text ;-).
The company I worked for was exploiting coffee & tea stores. It was a logical step to use an External Team Site for communication between central management in the company and store managers and employees.
We started with sharing information top-down, such as manuals, promotion information, recipes etc. Later we asked store managers to confirm (in the Team Site) that they had received their promotion supplies and we installed a discussion board for all employees to add recipes and other suggestions etc.
Next was a promotion where consumers could enjoy a High Tea in our stores. Since stores had limited capacity for High Teas the consumers had to make a reservation, and that was done via an external call center. And guess where the call center collected these reservations? Indeed, the same Team Site.
It was meant to be a temporary solution. Management did not want to invest in dedicated software before knowing if promotions which included a reservation would be a success. And while using the Team Site, everyone involved could learn what they really needed from a reservation system, allowing management to prepare a much more realistic briefing to software vendors.
What is the solution?
We used a Custom List to capture store, customer name and telephone number, number of visitors, date and time. We created a number of views, such as grouped by Store Location and a list of Today’s reservations. We added a sum of the visitors so the call center knew how many places were left on any given date and time, and the store employees knew what they could expect that day.
Central management set an Alert (Added Items, Daily Summary) to keep track of the reservations, and therefore of the success of the promotion.
What are the benefits?
- The promotion was a big success, and while that was of course not due to the Team Site, it meant there were many reservations being entered into the system. The call center did not report one single issue with the “reservation tool”.
- Store employees had a good overview of the number of reservations, so they knew what was expected of them. They could also see other stores’ reservations, so they knew how succesful the promotion was. This transparency was much appreciated.
- Central management could monitor the reservations as they were added, and was able to do a good analysis on the preferred locations, dates and times, which helped them plan new promotions.
This might have come as a pleasant surprise for them, but not for us. We know how easily these things can be done in a Team Site :-)!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net