SR1 Director Steven Richardson speaks to McNeil Collective to discuss how SharePoint can be used to manage Health and Safety within organisations. They discuss uses such as Health and Safety Tracking, Risk Registers and Lessons Learned Databases.

We have recently been working with several professional service companies including financial advisors, accountants, and solicitors to help them leverage Office 365 and SharePoint online capabilities to store and manage their client files.

Using these tools they are also able to create a “portal” for there clients to login to, so they can view and manage there own documents.

Some benefits of this approach include:

  • One central area to upload client documents
  • Secure sharing of client area to enable the client to view and manage their documents
  • Automatic notifications to the client of new documents to review
  • Automatic notifications to internal staff that a client has created/edited or viewed a document
  • Automatic notifications to internal staff that some action is due to that client. For example annual review, tax return, etc.
  • Full audit trail
  • GDPR compliance
  • Digital signing

Professional Service Document View

End Client Document View

If you need any help implementing this in your site or have any other requirements, then please get in touch.

Lead consultant Steven Richardson discusses his favourite SharePoint tools for migration, workflow, form development, digital signatures, and people search.

Over the last 15+ years, I have had the pleasure of working on many SharePoint projects varying in size and complexity.

One question I often get asked is what my favourite tools and add-ins are for various tasks. Whilst this can be tricky, as it is very dependant on the specific business requirements, budgets, and internal IT capacity, I often end up recommending the products below for Migration, Workflow, Forms, Digital Signatures, and People Search.

Just for clarity, I have no affiliation with any of these products (except the staff directory app). I receive no commission or other incentives for recommending these products. I prefer this as I feel it allow me to give my clients impartial recommendations, based solely on their needs.

Migration

A key component of SharePoint projects is often migration. This may be of content and documents from an earlier version of SharePoint, or documents from the file server or a 3rd party document management system.

My preferred tool for this is usually ShareGate. The main reason for this is the combination of simplicity and the level of granularity it offers.

Notable mentions

SPMT is a very simple free tool provided by Microsoft for migration to SharePoint Online from earlier versions of SharePoint (2010 +) or the file server.

Mover was recently acquired by Microsoft. Whilst Mover SharePoint integration is still in its infancy, I believe this will be improved over the next 12 months, and could well end up being the tool of choice

Workflow

Workflow capabilities are one of the great benefits of SharePoint. It allows us to build list-based applications rapidly that can really add value to an organization.

For this, I have chosen 2 tools, dependant on environment. One for on-premise SharePoint, and one for SharePoint Online.

For on-premise SharePoint, my preferred workflow tool is Nintex. Once again the primary reason being ease of use. This is something you can train a superuser with, allowing them to create and maintain workflows themselves. It also offers an array of functionalities and connectors.

Whilst Nintex also have a solution for SharePoint Online, this is a little bit more limited than the on-premise version. This is understandable as the on-premise version has full access to server-side components, whereas the Office 365 version runs client-side. Whilst it is still a good tool, I feel this has recently been surpassed by Microsoft Power Automate (previously flow) and Logic Apps. The array of functions and connections available is continually growing and you can really create some powerful enterprise-level automation, direct from SharePoint.

Notable mentions

K2 is a very powerful workflow engine, which we have used when organisations already have it set up with other products. Whilst the learning curve can be steep, the capabilities are very impressive.

Forms

When it comes to form-development there is a lot of options. My preferred choice for end-users is Nintex. Whilst it can be costly, it makes it very simple to create rich engaging forms, without relying on IT.

Notable mentions

Client-side rendering of forms using HTML, Javascript, and CSS. For a truly bespoke look and feel this can be a good option. Whilst it does require some SharePoint technical knowledge to implement them, if well structured they can easily be handed over to internal IT teams for future maintenance.

Cognito forms are easy to create WISYWIG forms that can be integrated into SharePoint lists using Power Automate

Digital signatures

In recent years, and with the rising popularity of Office 365 we are getting a number of service-based clients such as solicitors, accountants and financial advisers asking us to build secure client portals in SharePoint Online. A key requirement of this is often an easy way for the clients to produce pdf documents that can be accessed by there customers and digitally signed.

My preference is Docusign due to the seamless integration with SharePoint document libraries, allowing customers to sign the document, and the signed version to be uploaded as a new version of the original document. Also, the standard plans are very cost-effective, although do have a limit of 100 transactions per year. For higher volume transactions, bespoke plans are available which are also relatively cost-effective.

Notable Mentions

Adobe Sign. Often clients are already using this, therefore we would recommend them to continue with it as it also has nice SharePoint integration features

Staff/People Directory

With this was I am biased. Over many years of developing SharePoint intranets, I was continuously asked to implement a Staff/People Directory, and could never find a good one on the market. Therefore, I decided to develop my own and publish it on the SharePoint app store.

This retrieves user data from People Search, User Information List, or a custom list and displays it using the excellent Datatables plugin. This gives it very rich functionality such as search as you type, filtering, sorting and exporting.

Notable Mentions

The ShareGate team have an excellent blog on how to create your own People search in SharePoint

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of the tools available. I will look to produce this in a future article. However, I hope it gives you a few ideas and tools to look at.

If you need any assistance or advice on these tools or general SharePoint advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch

Microsoft is now offering a 6-month free trial of Office 365 E1 in response to the coronavirus.

Click here to get started with your free trial.

Get in touch today to discuss how we can assist with setting up the tools required to make remote working easy and effective

A question we often get from clients is which Office 365 tools should I use for each type of task.
There is no right or wrong answer to this, a lot will depend on your company processes, structure and culture. However, we aim to share some quick tips of practical uses of various Office 365 tools.
Today we will look at how to create meeting notes direct from an Outlook meeting.

1. Open Outlook Meeting, Click Meeting Notes, and Select Workbook

outlook

2. A meeting notes section is then created on OneNote, with a link back to the meeting details.

onenote

If you would like to discuss your Office requirements then get in touch today for a free consultation.

Up until recently, mobile app development was often costly and time-consuming. However, with the tools now available within Office 365, mobile applications can be developed within a matter of days, allowing organizations of all sizes to empower a mobile workforce.

If you are currently using Office 365 or considering implementing it, then taking the next step to mobile applications can be a quick win, allowing your team to update applications with the latest data on the go.

With field workers, and on-site staff all having access to a single source of truth, and the ability for field workers to add or update a record from their existing mobile device, which can trigger an automated action back in the office, the possibilities really are endless.

Some examples of recent mobile applications we have implemented include:

  • Inventory management tool for workshop staff, triggering re-order process
  • Mobile health and safety assessment forms
  • Mobile risk management forms
  • Mobile action tracker for assigning actions to office teams
  • Staff expense tracker with automated approvals

If you would like to discuss your mobile requirements then get in touch today for a free consultation.

mobile