4 Common processes that SharePoint can streamline

commsSo your organization has a SharePoint intranet. Your Communications team has done their best by creating and executing a communication plan including a teaser video, a naming contest (Check out this collection for inspiration), emails, intranet news articles and posters. They have given you a training and perhaps a nice gadget like a pen, a  mug or a USB stick. The intranet is here and it will be used for news, blogs, video, employee services, policies and procedures. Oh yes, and you can have Team Sites for collaboration. Good luck with it, folks!

But how often does an employee change their personal details online? How often do they go and find a policy? How many video’s will they upload? If they do these things only occasionally, they will never learn how SharePoint can help them in their daily work.

Few people know that SharePoint is very good at streamlining those annoying little processes that have been wasting your time for ages. Here is a list of processes that can be found in every organization, where SharePoint can add value by saving time and effort.

1. Recurring projects

Many projects occur regularly and follow the same procedures. Think about innovations, promotion campaigns, year plans and recalls.
You can create a tailor-made subsite and make a template out of it. If you use this in one site collection you will be able to create a ready-to-use team site for every project in almost no time, have all projects in one place and support consistency in your process.

Example: Crisis Management 

2. Requests with incomplete data coming from multiple channels

How often do people send you a request, by plain email, telephone, or Word/Excel document? And how often do you have to contact them again to ask for missing information?
Depending on the complexity, you can use a simple SharePoint list, an Office template in a Document Library, or an InfoPath form in a Forms Library, with mandatory fields. As additional advantage SharePoint stores all your requests in one central place, so you do not have to spend time on filing them. You can even add a filter to show only those requests you still have to process. The finished requests can be used to gain insights in your process.

Examples: Employee Directory  and Packaging Requests

3. Editing an online Excel file by many people at the same time

When several people are updating one Excel sheet in a document library, especially when this has to be done in a short period, e.g. at the end of the reporting period, you are asking for problems.

  • If you use mandatory check-out, editors may forget to check-in and you will have to chase people to check-in or to override the check-out yourself.
  • If you do not use mandatory check-out before editing, chances are that people edit the file simultaneously and overwrite each other’s changes.

Why not use a list, where everyone can update their own line items independently from others? Not only will it save problems, but you will also have much more transparency and better overviews if you do not “hide’ your data in a document.

Example: Telesales

checked-out document
Checked-Out Document

4. Collecting data by sending (Excel) files to a large audience

This is still a favourite process in many organizations. As the process owner who asks people to complete a form by the end of the month, you will have many files to chase and store. Then you have to spend your valuable time cutting and pasting the information into a report before the due date.
If you use a list to collect the information, you will have less inbox overload (just a small alert email when someone adds their information will do) and much more time to spend on analyzing your data and setting a strategy. That is what they hired you for, after all! And the results will be more transparent to your audience.
In fact, you may not even need that report at all…

Example: Travel arrangements in a Team Site

Do you recognize these situations? Could you please share some examples of how you have handled these processes with SharePoint? All tangible examples help us to help our colleagues save time and effort.

“Lady with megaphone” image courtesy of Stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Telesales in a Team Site

TelesalesOne of the teams spends their days making telephone calls to customers, asking them about a brochure or telling them about a new product or a special offer. This team has many calls to make each day, the more the better!

All phone numbers were in an Excel file, which was shared in a Team Site. Every Call Agent looked through the Excel file for the numbers assigned to them, and after the call edited the line item with the outcome of the call, as well as changes in information that they had learned during the call. (E.g. new contact person, change in telephone number).

What was the problem?

  • Opening the file and finding their assigned phone numbers took a long time.
  • Editing the item and saving the information caused waiting time (if the file was checked out by another call agent) or overwriting issues, (if a call agent forgot to check out)
  • All customers were in the file, whether they had been called or not
  • Management was always asking “how things were going” because they were curious and nobody had an overview of progress or results. This meant Call Agents had to spend time on ad-hoc reporting, which took time away from their calling time

What is the solution?

We opened up the Excel file by importing the data into a pre-configured Issue list in a Team Site. We created different views, such as:

  • New calls to be made, as well as call-back appointments, grouped by Call Agent
  • Completed calls, grouped by Result Code for a quick overview with sums (e.g. Appointment, Not interested, Business Discontinued, Offer)
  • Export view to export the data back into an Excel file for detailed analysis

By removing the finished calls to a different view, every call agent can see quickly which and how many calls he or she needs to make, without making mistakes.
We also added some real-time Excel graphs for management, so they can see progress and outcome of any promotional action in real-time. These graphs can also be used to evaluate the Call Agents’ performance and to share tips for a succesful approach between Call Agents.

What are the benefits?

  • Call Agents know exactly which customers to call or follow-up; editing a line item is much faster than editing a file so they can do their work more quickly
  • Call Agents make less mistakes in calling a customer twice or overwriting someone else’s edits
  • Management has a real-time overview of progress and outcomes, and they can see that without bothering the Call Agents
  • It is now possible to see progress as you go along, enabling the Marketing Manager to make adjustments during the promotion
  • It is clear which Call Agent is most succesful, which enables exchange of good practices between Call Agents

All in all, this simple Issue list has enabled the Call agents to make TWICE as many calls a day as before!

So, small wonder that other departments have embraced this solution as well – by now there are 3 teams calling in this way.

Another succesful cure for  Document Addiction! 😉

Please find a screenshot below, this shows the real-time Result Codes (e.g. Call, Written Proposal Requested, Meeting Requested, Already Bought This; Not Interested etc.) on the horziontal axis. Vertical is the count of this result code. The graph is slightly distorted because screenshot was made early in the Action, when there were still many calls (3344) to be made.

Telesales results by code

Below is a screenshot of the results by Call Agent. On the horizontal axis the names of the individual Call Agents, on the vertical axis their stack of different result codes. This enables management to monitor both their productivity (# calls made)  and their effectiveness (# of calls that have a favourable result). Please note that Call Agents do not all work fulltime.

Results by Call Agent

 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net