6 simple reasons to start using SharePoint workflows today

By Rick Sethi, Professional Advantage

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of SharePoint? If you’re like most people, you probably answered document management or an intranet portal  – two of SharePoint’s best-known uses.

This isn’t surprising. Organisations usually implement SharePoint because they need a solution to manage information and improve internal communication. Extra features like workflow are nice to have, but they’re not a priority for most SharePoint customers.

This could be about to change. Over the past few months we’ve seen an increase in organisations including workflow as a core part of their SharePoint strategy. These clients say SharePoint’s workflow functionality has saved them time, money and helped drive user adoption.

If your organisation isn’t using workflows in SharePoint, here are seven simple reasons to get started.

1. Save money by reducing manual processes

We all know that printing, managing and archiving files costs money. For organisations in paperwork-heavy industries like financial services, it can cost a lot of money. They are also responsible for an unfair amount of staff frustration.

With SharePoint, you can replace paper-based processes with automated workflows. You’ll save money on paper, print fewer documents and cut the number of archive boxes you send to storage every year.

Automated workflows can also reduce expensive human errors from double handling and manually re-keying information into systems. By automating and digitising these processes, SharePoint workflows take the stress out of process management.

2. Boost internal productivity

Did you know that a well-designed SharePoint workflow can automatically email everyone involved in a process? This means that you don’t need to spend time following up with colleagues for approvals. Leave applications aren’t left on a manager’s desk and forgotten.

It also means employees don’t need to understand the entire process to participate. SharePoint tells them what they need to do, when to do it, and who the next person in the workflow will be.

Every process is tracked on a dashboard, so you can easily identify process bottlenecks and identify areas to improve.

3. Improve user adoption

Even the best SharePoint solution in the country has little value if you can’t even convince employees of its value.

We’ve seen organisations successfully drive user adoption by moving key internal processes to SharePoint, and using workflows to manage the approval processes. They start with low-hanging fruits like employee on-boarding, leave requests, travel requests and expense claims.

Employees are already familiar with these processes. They understand that they can’t take leave or claim back expenses without them. The likelihood of resistance is low.

Once users are familiar with SharePoint and understand its value, you can roll out more advanced functionality.

4. Access workflow data from many systems

If you already use SharePoint, you may know that it has a native capability to integrate with other systems. Workflows are no different.

Rather than relying solely on information stored in SharePoint, workflows also pull information from third party data sources. This helps to overcome information silos and creates a single, reliable source of truth for users.

5. Build basic workflows quickly

Some organisations are reluctant to use SharePoint workflows. They worry that building workflows is complicated and time-consuming. This isn’t true.

Once you’ve clearly defined a business process, it doesn’t take much to build a basic workflow to automate and track approvals. A degree in computer science is not necessary to create your first workflow.

6. Enforce standards and stay compliant

One of the great things about workflows is that they track and execute every step of a business process. This can help you maintain standards and stay compliant. Unlike manual processes where important steps may be overlooked, a SharePoint workflow gives you complete visibility over an entire process.

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