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 face :-).
I added a SharePoint survey to the site.
Then 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.
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.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net