Using SharePoint to Create Document and Records Management Solutions that Delight Business Users
Let’s see how a diverse range of organizations have used SharePoint (Online and on-premises) to create document management and records management solutions that have achieved good levels of satisfaction and adoption by their business users. The key to their success is that they all use add-on software from MacroView.
Key Success Factors
Things that delight Business Users at these organizations include:
Making the Document / Record store easy to Visualize and Navigate
MacroView DMF harnesses the power of SharePoint search to make navigating around the SharePoint records store even easier than it is with a Windows file share. The next screen shot shows how a MacroView DMF user can use SharePoint Online search to find all areas in the DM / RM store whose names contain proposal and then be automatically navigated to one of those areas. Thanks to SharePoint and MacroView it’s even easier than navigating a large Windows file share.
See the Case Study of this implementation.
Minimizing Metadata Entry as Emails and Attachments are saved
If you ask DM / RM users what they dislike about their existing system chances are that they will tell you that their pet hate is the way that system prompts for metadata every time they save a document. And often times it’s the same set of metadata regardless of what they are saving. In a professional services firm context that means being prompted for Client and Project even when the document being saved is an internal one – e.g. for Marketing or Finance or HR – so the users have to enter ‘dummy’ Client and Project codes, such as 99999 or 000000. We have heard this ongoing prompting for metadata referred to a Profiling Fatigue, which we think is a good name for what is a major source of user frustration.
With SharePoint you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to metadata. Each area of a SharePoint-based DM / RM store can have a different metadata design. And the fundamental structure of SharePoint as a tree of storage containers means that you can provision each node so that metadata capture is largely automatic.
The screen shot above shows how the right-hand MacroView pane provides a complete and accurate view of the structure of a SharePoint Online document store. Users find working with the MacroView tree-view as familiar as working with the folder structure of a Windows file share.
Users in the legal department of Kuok Shipping in Singapore use a document set for each legal Matter, with each Matter document set containing folders for frequently-used types of document.
To save an Outlook email for a Matter a Kuok legal user simply drags and drops to a folder within the document set for that Matter. The user does not have to enter metadata but there is extensive automatic metadata capture, as this next screen shot shows. The Matter document set shares the metadata that relates to the Matter with the newly-saved email, and the MacroView add-on also automatically records the attributes of the email (To, From, Received Time, etc.).
Having the metadata recorded automatically not only reduces effort and frustration for the user – as we will see shortly it is also very useful when you search across the saved documents and emails.
Profiling fatigue is also minimized when the Kuok Legal user drags and drops to save an attachment – again the MacroView software automatically records Matter metadata for a newly saved attachment, and it also automatically records file system attributes such as Created Date, Last Modified Date, Author etc. These attributes are often the way users identify the document that they want to work with when they are using a Windows file share or other Windows folder – it’s good to have them to search by even after the documents have been migrated to SharePoint.
Allowing Users to Work in Familiar Microsoft Office Applications
This screen shot shows how MacroView DMF extends the Microsoft Word environment at Excelerate Energy, so that the Home tab very conveniently contains Open from SharePoint and Save As to SharePoint buttons. Clicking Open from SharePoint displays a dialog that allows their users to interact with the SharePoint DM store in four modes – Browse, Recents, Favorites and the Search mode shown in the screen shot.
The Search mode enables searching for documents based on metadata and / or content. The results are displayed in an intuitive table layout. The Excelerate users can do these searches while they work in Word (or Excel or PowerPoint or Outlook) – they do not have to leave the Office app where they are working and jump out to the web browser In order to search for documents or emails stored in SharePoint.
Custom-Tailoring of Search
Being able to search for documents in SharePoint without needing to leave the Office app where you are working is good, but it’s even better if the search can be customized to reflect the way your department or business unit uses metadata.
This next screen shot is taken from AEGIS Insurance, headquartered in Rutherford NJ. AEGIS have taken advantage of the way their MacroView add-on lets them define custom search panels – in this case an UW Documents search panel, which allows their Underwriting team to search for documents and emails using metadata that makes sense to Underwriting users – like Policy Number, Underwriting Doc Type and Submission Number.
Potentially each Business Unit can have its own custom search panel. This improves user adoption because the users in each Business Unit see that the SharePoint-based DM / RM solution has been custom tailored to their needs.
Integrating with Line of Business (LOB) apps without increasing user effort
DM and RM systems do not exist in isolation – in real world they need to co-exist with various line of business systems – e.g. CRM systems, Practice Management systems, Policy and Claims systems, Time Recording systems etc. Ideally the DM / RM system needs to be integrated with the LOB systems so that there is one source of the truth – i.e. a single point where customer / project details are maintained.
We have already seen how AEGIS Insurance provided their Underwriting team users with a custom search panel, powered by the SharePoint search engine and usable direct from Office. AEGIS has a LOB system for tracking Claims. They recognized that sometimes their users started their interaction by going to the record for a claim in that Claims system. By clicking a hyperlink in that record the AEGIS Claims team user is jumped out into a familiar MacroView screen, automatically navigated to the area in SharePoint that contains the documents and emails that have already been saved for that Claim. They can then drag and drop from Outlook or any Windows folder to save additional documents and emails. The screen that they jump to is generated by MacroView DMF Explorer, which provides a Windows File Manager–like experience for working with documents and emails in SharePoint.
Employers Council from Denver, Colorado (formerly known as Mountain States Employers Council – MSEC) integrated their DM and CRM systems by having their profiling (metadata capture) dialog customized so that the user could create a new project record in CRM as part of saving the first document for that new project. The screen shot below shows the profiling dialog in use at MSEC. The Member Matter control allows the use to pick a project record from the CRM system. But when it’s a new project there may well be no record found. So instead the user can click this custom ‘+’ button, which brings up a dialog that allows a new project record to be created in the CRM, and be selected for the document that is being saved.
It is instructive to calculate the keystrokes or user input actions that this custom ‘+’ button saves. It removes the need to suspend the save of the document, jump out to the CRM system to record the new project and then resume the save activity – overall a saving of 60%. No wonder that MSEC users report this as a key reason for liking their SharePoint-based solution.
See the MSEC Case Study.
Secure access from anywhere, on any device
Microsoft have invested heavily in making their SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Azure services secure. They have more security certifications than any other cloud provider. So you can store documents in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business with confidence. You can then access those documents securely when you are out of the office. All you need is access to an internet connection. Indeed if you are using OneDrive for Business you don’t even need the internet connection, because you can use the synchronized copy of the documents on your C: drive.
As New Zealand law firm Simmonds Stuart has found, this secure access from anywhere facilitates collaboration with customers and service partners. Once you have saved a document into SharePoint Online you can Share it with your customer / service partner, and they will be able to access it securely even though they are not one of the users in your Office 365 account. As well as access from anywhere it’s also access from any device – e.g. from a Mac running a Safari web browser, or from the SharePoint or OneDrive apps running on an iOS or Android or Windows mobile device or from Microsoft Office apps running under iOS on an iPad.
Simmonds Stuart uses a legal DM solution based on Office 365 / SharePoint Online and MacroView Case and Matter.
Collaborative Editing of Documents
Our next screen shot is from another law firm called Webb Henderson, who have offices in Sydney, Auckland and Singapore. Webb Henderson uses on-premises SharePoint Server plus MacroView DMF, together with a custom document automation solution from MacroView. A lot of their projects involve multiple Webb Henderson staff members working on a document from Webb Henderson offices, from their homes, from hotels and from customer offices – e.g. in Dubai. Because drafting deadlines are tight, these widely dispersed users need to be able to collaborate in real time on a document.
This is where a SharePoint-based solution can really shine. Thanks to the integration of SharePoint with Microsoft Office, multiple users can co-author a Word document that is stored in SharePoint.
Co-authoring means edit collaboratively so that multiple users have the document open at the same time, with each seeing the changes made by the other users every time they hit Save.
Webb Henderson complete the solution by using the MacroView add-on in Word, which as well as facilitating searching for and opening the document, also significantly improves the options for version control (compared to the native integration of SharePoint and Office).
See the Webb Henderson Case Study.
For more information about combining Office 365 and SharePoint Online with MacroView add-ons to create document management, email management and records management solutions that delight business users, see macroview365.com or contact MacroView Solutions.