Efficiency in businesses will involve making tasks easier to perform and trying to perform them easier. In some cases, however, we may find that tasks are still performed in a time-consuming manner that can also become boring for the people that have to execute the notes since they have to repeat the same task over and over again.
When it comes to document creation and management using SharePoint, the majority of people that use it tend to be trapped in the loop of performing mundane tasks repeatedly. This, however, can be changed and made more efficient. By following a well thought out strategy, an organization can smoothly integrate document automation using SharePoint as a solution to the time-consuming processes they may have in place right now. Here are a few steps to follow as you adopt automation.
This step is mainly about understanding the current situation of the organization. It is a careful study to find out things like,
• What documents does the organization deal with often?
• How are the documents managed at present?
• Who deals with the documents?
• Which departments need which documents?
Understanding such questions and finding answers to them will help create a SharePoint architecture in preparation for the automation process. Within this stage, you also need to establish document types and the content.
With a clear understanding of the documents of the organization, you can go on to create a structure or grouping. Type and content may seem similar but in the structure it would not be, for example, the type would be based on the department within the organization, so you can have Accounts and Sales as 2 types of documents and when it comes to content, that would be what the document is about, for instance, Sales documents may be about proposals so proposal would be the content of a sales document. Within these structures, you may find that some types may share content and that would be something worth noting because as you get to the automation process that notes will be useful.
In this step, you will probably need to list all the departments within the organization and the different documents that they tend to deal with often. These documents would then have to be placed according to their level of importance.
There are two choices here, you can either store them in Libraries or Lists. There may just be two choices, yet making the choice is not easy. There are a number of considerations to make when choosing the location. To make it easier, you should consider the benefits of either of the two.
- Lists give the opportunity to save items within other items, for example, emails can be saved within work documents and at the same time, the email can serve as a container for the attachment sent with the email. Lists, therefore, have more capacity.
- Lists have convenient settings for granting permission to access items. Even though libraries have the provision, it would need a series of commands to get to those settings.
- You can edit documents simultaneously
- Using file metadata and auto-filling simplifies document creation and mail merger which makes it great for customization of documents
- Documents open faster
- Management of documents is easier and you can also open with Windows Explorer
These benefits can guide you in making the decision about the location to store the SharePoint documents.
With SharePoint, the organization is done according to groupings, similar groups are stored together within the library. At times the volume of documents may be very large and you would need to split the documents even more into smaller web applications, but this is mainly if the environment is big and able to support this. If you did step-1 perfectly, it will not be difficult to define the sections within the storage areas. You can look back at the initial analysis you did and determine how many sites to have and how many subsites as well as how many storage locations you will need. It is however best not to have too many. As you do this, remember the documents and files need to be accessed with ease and fast so do not complicate it.
SharePoint is designed to give different levels of permission so depending on the need of your organization, you can set the permissions accordingly. It is possible to have some documents accessed only by individuals, or by groups, you can also determine where the access can be. You can determine if the documents can be accessed from anywhere or particular areas. This step is about ensuring the safety of the enterprise’ documents. It will take careful consideration. Plan how and who you will grant access.
This is a process that needs to be carried out because file names need to be streamlined to prevent every user from coming up with their names which will make finding files difficult. This step helps to improve the user experience.
This is where everything comes into action. You will decide what to automate and how. Find the documents that are most often used like invoices and quotations or whatever you choose. You will then create the templates for every document that you intend to automate. When that is done, you can use Windward to automate the entire process. With Windward, you can enter the necessary data as a one-off process, determining the different variables that may be unique to certain documents.
The setup process of automation is where most of the work is done, but the good thing is you only do this work once and after that Windward and SharePoint will be able to work together to generate the different documents automatically. You will simply need to choose the particular parts that you want to be included in the document and they will be added to the template. This presents a number of benefits to enterprises. Let us take a closer look at these benefits.
Automation of business processes is a blessing to companies that perform repetitive document generation. Using automation tools, such companies are able to cut costs while increasing productivity. SharePoint is one of such tools that has been implemented by many enterprises and we will examine its performance so far.
The aspects of an enterprise in which the software can bring about positive change are varied. Many businesses have implemented it in different ways for example for records management and learning portals.
There are a few hitches in the business processes that make them decide to try automation:
- Human error especially during data entry which eventually leads to critical downtime and affects revenue.
- Time is being wasted going through different processes to get a document drafted, approved and delivered. Documents like contracts can take as long as a week or two to be ready.
- Consistent failure to comply with organization guidelines on document generation
For many companies that have switched to automation with SharePoint, the above reasons were key fueling points, however, there is also the advantages that they anticipate from adopting the tool. These include:
Even for a small business, the cost of SharePoint is affordable. There are options that can be adapted to minimize expenditure when rolling out the tool. For basic automation, not more than $10 would be spent.
SharePoint is highly flexible and compatible with most existing tools within the work system. For instance, it can be integrated with CRM and other enterprise systems that may already be in use along with common office tools like Word and Excel so there is no disruption in the workflow.
In most of the organizations, the employees were familiar with the software so the training period was reduced and the business could start seeing the benefits much faster.
There are various ways in which the tool can be put to use. Enterprises can customize the use to suit their purpose. For example, medical health providers can use it to handle patient records, financial institutions can use it for processing loan agreements and legal service providers can generate contracts using the same tool.
In the end, the company is looking for a more efficient way to handle its document generation process and this presents the answer to it. After you have spent the time and money on the initial stage of set up, the benefits of Windward and SharePoint become evident with the faster generation of documents and error-free documents that adhere to the organization's standards. The clients will be happy and so will the organization.