Business automation and processes improvement is a key reason why organisations launch Office 365 and create intranets. They want to reduce costs, save time, increase productivity, speed up end-to-end processes, AND remove frustration for users.
If you are a customer who has Office 365 and the Wizdom ‘in-a-box’ product you have an incredibly powerful platform from which to start to automate business processes, both simple and complex. Using different combinations of features and capabilities you can collectively make a real difference to your digital workplace, organisational efficiency and even the employee experience.
Let’s look at some of the processes you can automate, based on what we’ve seen with clients and other organisations. And let’s be clear, there is a lot you can potentially do – these 19 ideas are just for starters!
1. Updating key business policies
Many intranets have a central library of key business policies. It’s important that these are kept up to date and there may be regular reviews in place to ensure that this happens. Automated reminders to content owners based on review dates places an automation layer to support an effective central policy library.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom Handbooks & Flow
2. Adding document metadata
Having the right metadata for documents helps with findability but also gives users important information about the content, may define displays in web environments, and support other outcomes. Getting the right metadata on a document is something which some organisations struggle with, especially if it all needs to be done manually.
Sometimes automation can really help add accurate document metadata. For example, if a document is added to a project workspace, if there is metadata associated with the project, perhaps the document can inherit that metadata. There may even be opportunities to use AI to suggest the right metadata to add.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom AI
3. Archiving content and data
Governance around the archiving and deletion of content and data is critical for keeping your digital workplace tidy, aligning to company retention policies and enhancing findability. Adding some automation to this process really helps, so that documents, content and spaces are automatically archived based on different criteria (including the review or approval from the content owner).
Potential tools to use: Flow, SharePoint workflows
4. Updating employee profiles
The employee directory and profiles are a staple of the intranet environment, but the best ones always represent the “one source of truth” of HR data, so that profiles are always accurate and employees don’t have to complete information across two systems.
Updates to your HR system containing individual employee data should always be reflected in individual employee profiles. For example, an update to a job title in the HR system should also be displayed on the intranet, ideally in real-time.
Potential tools to use: Delve, Custom-built solution, Active Directory
5. Requests and approvals
This is perhaps the most common form of process improvement driven by intranets and Office 365, using forms and workflow to deal with requests from everything from booking travel, to annual leave, to ordering stationary, to ordering lunch for a client meeting. Usually these requests need to go through some kind of approval process. In many organisations there will still be ‘request and approval’ processes which are done using email or even using paper, that are just waiting to be automated.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom Forms, Flow, SharePoint Workflows
6. IT and facilities performance monitoring
Performance monitoring of different systems is an obvious area to automate, using dashboards to provide reporting and notifications when things don’t look right, based on different rules. We’ve seen many examples of this, including the monitoring of load times on different web channels or servers, to reporting on the temperature of different parts of a building.
Potential tools to use: PowerBI, Wizdom analytics
7. Office 365 adoption reporting
Unsurprisingly, digital workplace teams are always interested in driving up adoption of Office 365 and its constituent tools. With so many tools and channels in operation, automated reporting of the use of different applications and channels via a customised dashboard is nearly always of interest to teams.
Potential tools to use: PowerBI
8. Logging support calls
There are already systems like Service Now which allow users to log issues and automatically raise tickets for IT, HR and other support services. The ability to raise tickets is usually a prerequisite for running any scalable helpdesk or support service, but sometimes more lightweight processes might not warrant the investment in a separate system. In these instances, using your intranet platform or Office 365 may make a lot of sense as an affordable system to log support calls., and where automation can really add value.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom Service Desk module, Wizdom Forms, Flow
9. Centralising notifications from different systems
Information overload is still a real issue for many users, especially with an overwhelming email in-box. For many users it can be hard to keep in touch of all the automated notifications, alerts, approvals and actions needed across a number of disparate systems.
Having a focused activity stream or list of notifications from systems in one place (“universal inbox”) that is not email can allow users to keep on touch of all the things they need to do and ensure approvals are made more speedily.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom notifications, Flow
10. Financial reporting and monitoring
Financial reporting is an obvious use case for a dashboard which has considerable value for senior management and finance departments, helping to drive accountability and support decision-making. However, dashboards with simplified financial and performance data such as sales can even be presented to users on the intranet homepage, as a way of keeping everybody up to date. This form of automation almost always has value.
Potential tools to use: PowerBI
11. Marketing automation
Marketing automation is one of those terms that’s on the wishlist of marketing functions, that is not always put into operation. Marketing automation can be powerful in helping save time and supporting your sales funnel. It can range from the simple (sending out an automatic email based on the completion of a website form) to sophisticated (sending out a targeted message based on a range or combination of user behaviour.)
Potential tools to use: PowerApps and Flow
12. Tracking assets
IT departments often need to track and manage the assets which are given out to users including devices, equipment, software licenses and more. It’s incredible how many teams still rely on spreadsheets and email for this exercise, even though there may be some workflow in place to issue a new device for a new employee. Automation should mean that there is only one source of truth for keeping track of your assets which ideally you can use for reporting both for stakeholders and even for users themselves.
Potential tools to use: PowerApps and PowerBI
13. 360 appraisals
360 appraisals tend to be a process-heavy exercise involving data input from different users, reporting, approval workflow, notifications and the need to store all the data in a core system of record. In other words, 360 appraisals are ripe for automation and improvement! Appraisals can be cumbersome and time-consuming, so anything which makes it easier for everybody is welcome.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom Forms, Flow, PowerApps
14. Document building
Building model documents based on different criteria is a theme often found in knowledge management and is also of interest to professional services firms such as lawyers and accountants. Being able to build automated documents such as contracts and agreements based on different metadata (e.g. client name or document type) can help to maintain document standards as well as save huge amounts of time.
Often the model document built is a starting point which still must be completed and checked, but the process automation adds a lot of value.
Potential tools to use: PowerApps, SharePoint Workflows, MS Office
15. Know Your Client
Know Your Client (KYC) is a standard process which is often carried out by some companies as part of the due diligence process to onboard new clients, suppliers and vendors, and minimize risks involved. KYC may involve interrogating external databases with company information and also performing credit checks. The extent to which KYC processes can be automated varies, but there is usually scope for speeding up the process, for example even using a chatbot to gather initial information.
Potential tools to use: Bot framework, PowerApps, PowerBI
16. Resource planning
Resource planning for projects, teams and initiatives can be challenging, particularly if relevant information is scattered around different systems. For example, you may want to view core information from your HR platform, timecard systems and details of expertise from people profiles to help you assemble the right team and check availability.
Automating reporting with data from various systems to help with resource planning, with specific views to aid team selection, can be very powerful and help you to create the best teams while also ensuring capacity.
Potential tools to use: PowerBI and Microsoft Planner
17. Project management
Project management is a broad activity which is key to the way many companies operate. Office 365 and Wizdom can help with many aspects of project management, including providing the base for some automation. For example, some companies might choose to automatically set up a collaboration space whenever a project is set up in their financial management system or equivalent, or choose to integrate real-time budgeting and financial information, or timecard information, within their project space. This helps to embed collaboration and dashboards right into the project management processes, as well as driving efficiencies.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom Project, PowerBI
18. Employee onboarding
Having a formal employee onboarding program can really help drive efficiencies and make new starters feel welcome, in turn supporting better employee retention. With so many checklists and tasks to complete, and information to provide, there are a myriad of processes which can be automated or semi-automated, even before a new hire’s first day. Ensuring that employees fill in the forms they need to before they start and in their first few weeks (and ensure this information goes to the right people and systems) is a great starting point.
Potential tools to use: Wizdom Forms, Wizdom content targeting
19. Collecting data from the field
Sometimes field workers or mobile employees may need to file reports with data collected when they are out and about – for example, engineers making site inspections. Ideally data should be gathered and input directly into mobile devices, including tablets. Automation can make sure that this information appears automatically in documents, databases, dashboards and even workspaces.
Potential tools to use: PowerApps, Wizdom Forms
Office 365 and Wizdom Online is a productivity platform
Office 365 and Wizdom are much more than an intranet platform. It’s also about a digital workplace where you can drive automation, reporting and more. Have you automated or partly automated any of the above processes or have you done something different? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!