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Still Pushing Paper? Want to Stop?

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Still Pushing Paper? Want to Stop?

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Is your organization still "pushing paper"? Are you and/or your staff still filling out paper forms, such as purchase requests, timecards, time off requests, etc., then using the "sneaker-net" (i.e. walking around the form around to collect approvals) to work through workflow process? If so, you are not alone. Many organizations are still working through their day to day as well as other workflows using paper. This can be an ok way of managing internal processes while a company is small but, when that company grows, one of the growing pains experienced is the pain of dealing with paper and slow, manual workflows.

 

Fortunately, you can do something about it. SharePoint to the rescue! One of the many great things SharePoint does well is online forms and workflow automation. Your paper forms can be a thing of the past! Implement them in SharePoint using SharePoint List Forms, Nintex, and/or, my personal favorite, InfoPath (or using another of the many SharePoint form solutions), and your employees can fill out those forms online in your organization's intranet portal. You can also have a special portal or portals for your clients and/or vendors to be able to fill out forms as well. AND not only can they fill out those forms, those forms are stored in your organizations portal.

 

AND it gets better! Usually a form is not just filled out and stored. There is normally a workflow process that takes place where the form needs to be reviewed and approved, or rejected, by one or many people. In SharePoint, forms can be filled out and when the user submits the form, it can route itself around and even notify the user, or maybe a manager, how the workflow is progressing and/or that the workflow process has completed and give the result. The status can be tracked by the owners of the process as well as the supervisors by notification and by viewing a dashboard with that information.

 

Let's walk through an example of requesting time off so you can get visualize what I am saying. Picture this:

  1. Employee goes to the Time Off Requests page of the organizational portal where they can initiate new requests and see the status of their other/past requests.
  2. The employee fills out the form and clicks a submit button on the form.
  3. A notification is sent to the employee, with the form in the email, stating that their request has been routed to the supervisor for approval.
  4. The supervisor receives and email, with the form in the email, stating that their subordinate is requesting time off.
  5. The supervisor clicks on a link to be taken directly to the request.
  6. The supervisor chooses to either approve or reject the request.
    1. If rejected:
      1. The supervisor enters a reason for the rejection, electronically signs the form, and clicks the submit button.
      2. A notification is sent to the employee, with the supervisor cc'd, stating that their request was rejected and why.
    2. If approved:
      1. The accounting department receives and email, with the form in the email, requesting time off and showing the supervisor's approval.
      2. The accountant clicks on a link to be taken directly to the request.
      3. The accountant fills in pertinent information such as how many hours the employee has left on the books to take. There may even be a calculation that is performed to subtract the hours requested by the employee from the hours the accountant entered then give the accountant the subsequent amount.
      4. The accountant electronically signs the form, and clicks the submit button.
      5. A notification is sent to the employee, with the supervisor cc'd, stating that their request was completed.
  7. The workflow ends and the form remains in the storage area of the portal.

 

This is a scenario that one of my actual clients had for the approval process attached to their own time off request form. This doesn't mean that your process needs to be the same way, it can be customized to fit your organization process and any form can be implemented, not just time off requests. That is one of the many beauties of SharePoint. Another beauty is that that process, once implemented, can be duplicated in your portal for different departments who may also use the same process.

 

As a small company, you may think that getting SharePoint, even for your small organization, is be hugely expensive. That was in yester-years. With the advent of the Microsoft clouds, Office 365 and Azure, you can get SharePoint for a fraction of the cost of getting it on premises.

 

Already have SharePoint on-prem? Sweet! You already have your basis and just need to get cracking on identifying those paper forms and manual processes and making them into automated solutions that will save your organization time and money.

 

So are you ready? Ready to stop pushing paper?

 

Need help or a demo? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365 as well as this and other solutions to your organization.

Peace and Blessings,
Nikkia T. Carter, MCPS, MS, CTT
CEO/Owner, Carter-McGowan Services, LLC
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