Forms, forms, forms
Would you see value in a forms system that allowed employees, management and HR staff to fill out forms and automatically route those forms for approval based on your business rules?
That same system would allow users to search, retrieve, archive and disposition forms according to your requirements.
Would you see value, if you could have the system without buying any hardware or software?
Chances are you have what you need and may not know it. You see Windows SharePoint Server 3.0 and SharePoint Foundation 2010 are free, they run on Windows Server and provide all the features described above when it comes to forms handling. If your company is using a Microsoft Windows Server you probably own everything you need.
Follow this simple example:
The Quality Manager has hired a new technician, Brenda. She arrives on her first day of work and for whatever reason, the new hire doesn’t receive an ID badge, she has a desk but the phone is disconnected and the computer hasn’t arrived yet. The computer comes the following day, but her email account hasn’t been setup yet.
Safety training is today, but they don’t have room for her in the class because nobody notified the trainer.
Payroll needs to know about the new hire, and Benefits still needs her to make insurance and 401k selections.
Now follow this example:
The Quality Manager that hired Brenda goes to the company intranet, fills out the New Hire form and submits it.
Stacy in HR finds an alert email about the New Hire form for Brenda. She reviews the form by clicking a hyperlink in the message. She likes what she sees, so starts the New Hire automated workflow with a few mouse clicks.
Tom in Security now receives notice Brenda will need a badge for building access. The notice includes the particulars of access like rooms, times and days.
In addition to Security, John and Jeff in IT receive emails indicating Brenda joining the company and needing a phone, a laptop, network folder access, a network login and email account. And she needs access to the APQP system.
Chris in Payroll and Jenny in Benefits are notified as well so Brenda will have a paycheck on her first payday. And Jenny knows to schedule her for an insurance and 401k meeting.
That is pretty good for one simple change in the Quality Managers behavior; using the New Hire form on the company intranet.
One last thing, Jeff in IT planned to build her laptop but was interrupted by a server failure. Fixing that took all day and some of the evening. He has completely forgotten about Brenda’s laptop and the email about Brenda is now buried in his inbox by 20 other emails. Fortunately he received an automatic reminder the next day about the laptop. He remembers Brenda and builds her laptop. We all forget, but getting that reminder helps us succeed anyway.
Oh, and yes, the trainer was notified about the new hire needing to attend the safety class.
Yeah but we already…
Maybe you are thinking, “Yeah, but we already…”
…email a Word document around
Simple, there is one source of truth. The New Hire form submitted by the Quality Manager is stored in one controlled location. There is a change history associated with the form, so it is simple to see who changed the document and how. It also cuts down on storage in your Inbox because it is not stored there, but it is one hyperlink click in your email away.
Reduced Inbox storage means, reduced calls to IT asking them to increase your mailbox storage limit.
…have a network folder
You cannot filter, sort and search a network folder for New Hire forms for the Sandusky and Tampa locations for the Finance and Engineering departments. You cannot restore the New Hire form back to what it looked like before Security changed it. SharePoint allows for change control and any fields in the form can be used for searching, filtering and sorting. So if you want to see new hires in your Sandusky and Tampa locations for the Finance and Engineering departments, it’s easier than filtering and sorting data in Excel.
Dream about the time saved in your department and in the company.
Consider Brenda, Quality Technician: 8+ hours lost because she doesn’t have a computer, building access, email and a phone. Consider the Quality Manager: 1 hour lost chasing her computer, phone, etc. Consider HR: 1 hour lost ensuring Payroll, Benefits, Security and Safety have welcomed Brenda with a paycheck, insurance, a badge and training.
Consider the time savings if you are using paper forms and signatures. Nobody walking a form around for approvals, no inter-office mail and no calling around to find out where the form is in the approval process.
Then consider all the Brendas every year.
Then consider these other forms:
- time off requests
- performance reviews
- position changes
- salary changes
- payroll fixes
- payroll changes
- job applications
Building a New Hire form and workflow is only a couple of days of work, depending on requirements for the form and the approval process. The time spent building the form and workflow pays for itself very quickly.
I’m passionate about SharePoint and how it can help companies. My job is to help you improve your business and hopefully by writing this article I’ve given you some ideas on how to do that.
If you have questions or want more information, phone calls and emails are always free.