7 Ways To Use SharePoint Automation For Your Organization
27 November 2023
In the ever-evolving landscape of business operations, the need for streamlined processes and increased efficiency has become paramount. One powerful tool that stands out in this regard is SharePoint, a robust platform that offers a myriad of features to enhance collaboration and productivity. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of SharePoint automation, exploring what it is, determining if your business truly needs it, and uncovering ways to leverage SharePoint for Business Process Automation (BPA).In this blog post, we’ll explore the vast potential of Microsoft 365, with a specific focus on the role of SharePoint in business process automation.
At Star Knowledge, our journey has involved collaborating with numerous clients to harness the power of business process automation within Microsoft 365, leveraging key features such as SharePoint Workflows, Power Automate, and Power Apps. Our goal is to elevate business efficiency and accelerate processes across departments, empowering businesses to deliver fast, digital-friendly customer experiences. Drawing upon over 15 years of SharePoint consulting and development experience, we aim to guide you through the rich possibilities within SharePoint, positioning it as a robust automation platform.
What is Business Process Automation?
Before delving into SharePoint automation, it’s essential to understand the broader concept of business process automation (BPA). BPA involves the use of technology to automate complex business processes and functions beyond the scope of conventional data manipulation and record-keeping tasks. Essentially, it aims to streamline and optimize workflows, reducing the dependency on manual intervention.
SharePoint, as a part of the Microsoft 365 suite, plays a pivotal role in BPA by providing a collaborative platform that allows organizations to automate routine tasks, manage content, and facilitate seamless communication among teams.
Does your business even need SharePoint automation?
Determining whether your business requires V involves evaluating current workflows, identifying bottlenecks, and recognizing opportunities for improvement. If your organization deals with repetitive tasks, document management, and collaboration challenges, SharePoint automation can be a game-changer.
Automation can significantly reduce human error, enhance consistency, and free up valuable time for employees to focus on more strategic tasks. SharePoint’s automation capabilities can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your organization, making it a versatile solution for businesses of all sizes.
How do I leverage SharePoint for business process automation?
In the business realm, operational inefficiencies can result in significant revenue loss, with market research firm IDC estimating that companies lose between 20 to 30 percent in revenue annually due to such inefficiencies. Leveraging SharePoint Workflows emerges as a key strategy to streamline and automate diverse business processes, ranging from collecting signatures and feedback to tracking the status of routine procedures.
By 2023, the shift toward digital automation is anticipated to become a global business norm, emphasizing the critical role of tools like SharePoint in driving operational excellence. Below, we explore how SharePoint can be harnessed to automate workflows, along with insights into additional tools within the Microsoft 365 suite for comprehensive business process automation.
Utilizing SharePoint Alerts for Real-Time Updates:
Stay ahead of changes in your SharePoint documents or items by harnessing SharePoint Alerts. This feature offers an effective way to receive timely notifications whenever a file or folder undergoes modifications. Users can easily configure alerts for lists, libraries, folders, files, or specific list items. Additionally, setting up alerts for specific folders within a library ensures that notifications are received only for changes within that designated folder.Related Resource: Learn how to create a SharePoint List in our detailed article.
Activate Content Approval
Leveraging Power Automate, you have the capability to activate the content approval functionality within SharePoint libraries, particularly for documents housing sensitive information. By establishing an approval process within the document library, you can seamlessly manage the approval of documents. Through the content approval process, documents awaiting approval remain concealed from users until they successfully undergo the approval procedure. This ensures a controlled and secure workflow, allowing sensitive documents to be visible only after receiving the necessary approvals.
Leveraging SharePoint’s In-Built Workflows for Streamlined Processes
SharePoint’s native workflows provide a versatile solution to tackle common business challenges, ranging from approvals and feedback to digital signatures, phased task management, and content publishing. These built-in workflows serve as a valuable resource, automating tasks that would otherwise require manual effort, such as gathering signatures or seeking document approval.
Managing and monitoring tasks, including forwarding documents and issuing reminders, often entails significant additional work. This can be a source of overwhelming interruptions for both you and your colleagues. SharePoint’s pre-built workflow templates offer a remedy by automating specific tasks. For instance, the SharePoint document approval workflow automates the process of checking, tracking, and automatically handling reminders and forwarding during document collaboration.
In cases where task delays or other issues arise, the inherent workflows typically generate notifications to keep you informed. This not only reduces the need for constant manual monitoring but also ensures that you are promptly alerted to any deviations in the workflow. In essence, SharePoint’s built-in workflows alleviate the burden of manual intervention in repetitive processes, allowing for a more efficient and streamlined approach to task management.
Utilize the Power of Automation with Power Automate in SharePoint
Power Automate, a powerful tool integrated within Microsoft Lists, SharePoint, and OneDrive, allows you to establish workflows effortlessly, saving both time and effort. These automated flows contribute to maintaining consistency and efficiency in your routine tasks. Power Automate extends its capabilities beyond SharePoint, encompassing various Microsoft 365 services and third-party applications.Here are several ways you can leverage Power Automate in SharePoint:
- Automate Data Extraction: Streamline the extraction, verification, and population of data from spreadsheets, PDFs, and other documents. This accelerates the process of pulling, validating, and generating reports from diverse datasets, enhancing data-driven decision-making.
- Automate Document Processing: Power Automate enables the extraction of information from forms, PDFs, images, emails, and various data sources. This functionality facilitates the quick and easy generation or sharing of documents, enhancing document management efficiency.
- Automate Workflows: Simplify and automate specific series of actions integral to your work processes. Examples include automating tasks such as checking stock levels, placing orders, completing invoices, and sending updates to customers. By automating these routine processes, you save valuable time and reduce manual intervention.
- Automate the Flow of Critical Information: Ensure the efficient handling of important documents and business information by automating their flow. Power Automate seamlessly integrates with SharePoint, offering a plethora of connectors and plug-ins. This integration simplifies tasks such as fetching email attachments, monitoring social media updates, managing work tasks, and more. Additionally, you can automatically store and share this information with your dispersed colleagues.
- Automate Manual Work and Third-Party Processes: Streamline organizational processes that involve additional steps for tasks like user data verification, sales information validation, and other essential workflows. Leverage the extensive library of tools and connectors within SharePoint to eliminate redundant efforts, enhancing accuracy and efficiency.
- Automate Typical Work Processes and Project Steps: Enhance your typical workday by automating multiple tasks within minutes rather than hours. Power Automate facilitates the automation of tasks such as sending emails, creating tasks on Planner, and sending messages to your team. This not only saves time but also ensures that routine processes are executed consistently.
Harness the Power of SharePoint Designer:
Utilizing SharePoint Designer proves to be a highly effective approach for overseeing a range of business processes within your enterprise, from the straightforward to the intricate. This tool empowers users to automate both business application processes and collaborative human workflows.
In the realm of business application workflows, SharePoint Designer facilitates seamless updates in one data source immediately after a change occurs in another data source. On the other hand, when dealing with human collaborative processes, workflows crafted in SharePoint Designer empower users to initiate actions like sending a document for approval from an employee to their manager.
Collaborative Automation with Microsoft Teams:
SharePoint’s integration with Microsoft Teams opens up collaborative automation possibilities. Create automated channels, where actions in SharePoint trigger notifications or updates in Teams, fostering seamless collaboration among team members.
For example, you can automatically notify a Teams channel when a new document is uploaded to a SharePoint library, ensuring that relevant team members are informed without manual communication efforts.
User-Friendly Forms and Input Validation:
Leverage SharePoint’s capabilities to create user-friendly forms with Power Apps. These forms can be embedded within SharePoint sites, facilitating automated data entry. Implement input validation rules to ensure data accuracy and consistency.
By automating data capture through custom forms, you not only reduce errors associated with manual data entry but also enhance the overall user experience, encouraging adoption across your organization.
In today’s dynamic business environment, the imperative for streamlined processes and heightened efficiency cannot be overstated. SharePoint emerges as a pivotal tool, offering robust automation features to propel collaboration and productivity. Assess your business needs, leverage SharePoint workflows, and embrace Power Automate for enhanced automation. Embrace the future of business efficiency call us today to unlock the full potential of SharePoint.