3 Excellent Operational Tips: Standardize and Simplify Your Processes

Optimize operations and minimize employee churn

With less face-to-face time and more employee churn, ensuring everyone is on the same page is more challenging than ever. You are tracking down customer documents amongst a remote workforce. Employee onboarding gets paperwork signed but doesn’t help remote new hires align with a company culture they’ve never experienced. Employees in the field waste precious time driving to the office to drop off paper files like receipts and signed contracts. Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Cloud as a platform, combined with some configuration knowledge and experience, remove these obstacles. Our blog will cover a few recent examples of how we have helped our customers optimize operations in the Cloud: an employee onboarding portal, a client folder management system, image report submissions for operations in the field, accounting, and operational management.

Employee Onboarding Portals – Getting Your Team on the Same Page

Most organizations have already automated new hire paperwork, whether through a payroll system, an electronic signature system, or even a shared file folder. Those, unfortunately, do not help the team members understand how things work in your organization. Without a water cooler to chat around, how do we develop a sense of community and culture with our remote workers? Create an employee portal. You can leverage Microsoft 365 SharePoint Online subscription or PowerPlatform to create a client and team member onboarding portal.

Instead of sending out documents for new employees, your portal can prioritize tasks that require their attention. Employees can view up-to-date information on your organization, ranging from your mission statement and history to information on current team members. With the Standard Operating procedures easily accessible, more team members have a shared understanding of what they are responsible for — ensuring greater operational efficiency. Online communities are nifty features within creating a portal, allowing you the hybrid space to communicate and share resources with those entering your onboarding process.

Learn more here: Onboard new employees into your organization – SharePoint in Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Docs

When you are ready to go beyond the SharePoint online experience, consider Microsoft’s newest collaboration product – the employee experience portal called Microsoft Viva. Microsoft Viva includes learning, insights, goals, and connections for a complete employee communication experience. Viva Connections within Microsoft 365 provides a central location where workers can engage and a unified communications channel to share organization information and announcements.

Client Onboarding Portals – Standardize Record Management and Empower Your Clients

Say goodbye to tracking down clients to complete onboarding questionnaires, gather documents, and meet for status updates. We can design, develop, and implement a solution based on your Microsoft 365 subscription that automatically sends e-form questionnaires and creates folders for new clients. With Microsoft 365 Business Premium, we can automate records management, from archiving files for completed cases and projects to purging old records. For example, for a financial advisory firm, whenever a new client is onboarded, we automatically create a folder for the client, subfolders for each step of the onboarding process, and copies of templated questionnaires for the client to complete. In another solution, we created e-forms that are sent to customers to complete before the first intake meeting. For another customer, we configured Power Platform’s portal to capture customer information and display updates to the customer. Each of these examples speeds up the client onboarding process, increases accuracy, and enables ready collaboration amongst your team and the client, wherever they work.

End Mandatory Trips to the Office Part 1: Field Staff

Even before the broad shift to remote work, field staff interacted with the main office – whether calling the office to find out a location or job schedule change, submitting paper receipts for purchase on the road, or uploading files of images captured when on the road. All scenarios force people in the field to stop working for customers and make the track back to the office or call the office. Often, this also resulted in a duplicate entry – first entry at the job site or in the field, and then another when back in the office.

Eliminate excess travel and store operational data in the Cloud.

The first step for many of our customers over the years is to centralize their contacts in an address book configured version of Dynamics 365 or Power Platform. You can move your contacts in Outlook and store them in an electronic address book where the whole team can readily see them wherever they’re working – if you permit them. Employees working in the field can access necessary contacts at their fingertips without having to call the main office for numbers or addresses. No more playing phone tag to get updated contact information or printing contact sheets each morning before leaving for the job site

While at the job site, your field staff can take pictures of and record expense receipts and submit them. When storing the images, we can associate each one with a contact, customer record, or orders worked by your team. Those images are then attached to a case or project and logged to your company in a secure place. You no longer need to keep up with piles of receipts for sorting, documenting, and filing. We can store more than receipts too. For landscaping or HVAC, employees can send before and after photos from their phones directly to the Cloud, which is accessible to project managers who now can more easily manage multiple locations at one time. We have even made files accessible to our customer’s clients, for example, for home improvement contractors who share individual jobs with their clients.

End Mandatory Trips to the Office Part 2: Accounting and Management Staff

QuickBooks Desktop and custom Microsoft Access applications that track accounting, operational, or sales information are common reasons organizations continue to pay for commercial office space. When the lease is canceled, the QuickBooks or Access database file is often stored in a Dropbox or One Drive account with minimal security settings. At first glance, it feels like a cloud solution; however, no collaboration is available. Users must contact each other to see who will use it when they download the file to make changes and then upload it before the next person can access it.

To overcome these challenges, move the application to the Cloud. With Quickbooks Desktop, we can help you move your application to QuickBooks Online. We made the shift a few years ago and have not looked back.

See here for more tips: Should I move clients from QuickBooks Desktop to Online? (intuit.com)

For Microsoft Access applications, you can find a suitable replacement solution in PowerApps. If that is not an option, connect the Microsoft Access forms to an Azure SQL Database.

Excel spreadsheets in the Cloud are a great way to share data with remote teams. Once the data becomes more complex or needs controls (e.g. ensure date fields have dates, etc.), it is best to move that application to PowerApps.

See how we’ve helped one of our clients here: SunCoast Blood Centers: Optimizing Blood Mobile Data Collection with PowerApps

Whether your accounting, sales, and operational team or people out in the field, all your employees (and you) can find satisfaction in centralized access from anywhere database. Information used to do their jobs will do well at their fingertips; you can create one less obstacle for your team to conquer.

Execute and Optimize Your Operations

Seamless spaces for interaction smooth the operational processes. Everyone can be on the same page whether you create an onboarding portal using Microsoft 365 SharePoint Online subscription or create a PowerPlatform application to capture and manage remotely collected data. You can create an excellent operational experience for your clients and employees to enjoy for years to come.

Whether you need help configuring and securing features of your current subscription or want a more customized solution that complements your organization, our expert and personable team is here to serve you.