Here at SP Marketplace we have seen a lot of different processes used, by a lot of different departments for a lot of different businesses. Even in my personal experience of working in IT for 20 years now, I have seen quite a few different types of ticketing systems, ways to manage documents and interact with different departments. I have seen ticketing systems utilized that are as basic as working on an Excel spreadsheet, to as convoluted as the ones provided by ConnectWise. A couple of the biggest commonalities that I have seen with these is they are usually just a single (Siloed) application for just that department and they are not really that customizable for the ever changing needs of the business.
Consider this: A centralized ticketing system that utilizes the same platform for all your departments (IT, HR, Facilities, Training, etc.) that your staff can access from any device, from any location they can access the internet from, to be able to make requests or submit a ticket to any department within your organization, AND then able to quickly see the status of that ticket.
What if that ticketing system could be very easily customized to each individual department’s needs and requirements? What if each department had their own easily accessible library for not only documents, but the forms that are utilized, not only for themselves, but the rest of your staff as well?
How about this: How many of your business processes are handled manually? What if a lot of these processes could be initiated automatically when required? Take, for example the onboarding process for a new employee, or a frequently performed project, that has dozens of individual tasks associated with it, and requires the coordination of many people across many departments? How can you track the progress of these tasks in one centralized area? How can you even see who is doing what?
What about your assets and facilities? I have seen a lot of companies just storing this information on a spreadsheet, or they utilize another siloed application to keep a track of them. However, a lot of these programs do not keep track of the tickets or work orders raised against those assets. What if you had a centralized area to do all of these and also keep a track of your regularly scheduled maintenance?
That is just your internal staff. Add to this mix, your external clients/customers. How many programs and processes are used in not only their management but your service of their needs and requirements?
Every company’s business needs are different and diverse. A lot of the software out there is stock standard and requires contacting the vendor to make even the simplest of changes. What you need is a simple unifying platform for your staff to access all the information they need on a day to day basis, which is unique to your requirements and processes, that can keep up with and change with your specific needs.
This is where SharePoint on Office365 comes into its own. It is a platform that will integrate with your organization, its diverse nature and requirements. Add to that the business solutions in SP Business Suite that are offered by SP Marketplace, and you have that a centralized structure for your staff to not only communicate and collaborate with each other, but to handle and manage the tasks required for their daily interactions and transactions. Not only that, but it will save you time (and money) in having all your business needs in one location, automate a lot of your business processes and for your staff to track how things are going!
Implementing an Intranet is very different from your external website. After over 300 implementations of our SP Intranet Portal, we have gained some insight on success factors. With an Intranet, there should never be an emphasis on marketing, PR, and over glorious graphics. Its mission is much different, to facilitate the quickest possible access to information, collaboration and tools to help your employees do their job.
As we have covered in previous articles in this series, a successful Intranet implementation may start with the right technology platform (example: Office 365) and the right structural design, but its ongoing success relies on a commitment from the organization for staff resources to keep it running. In small to medium businesses this can be a challenge. These organizations do not have the budgets or staff available to commit exclusively to the Intranet.
The ongoing challenges of HR policy management at small to medium organizations (SMBs) are constantly changing and evolving, leaving HR managers overwhelmed and frustrated. Strict government regulations and an increase in employee legal disputes complicates policy development and automating the process of distributing and receiving employee acknowledgement.
Once a policy is developed and approved, what is the best way for organizations to communicate it and distribute it? Where and how can employees access it, especially if the policy is urgent and the employee is not in the office? Furthermore, how can HR managers receive confirmation that employees read, understood, and acknowledged the policy?
Over the years Microsoft makes changes that affect a custom built Intranet, help desk, employee self-service or other custom site on Office 365 SharePoint Online. The impact can impact your ability to conduct business. These changes may impact any web parts, forms, workflows or branding where code was used by the original developers. Many of these are probably core to the operation of the application solution. There are a number of other solution development approaches that will become a problem as well. This article will look at business solution development and the “critical” mistakes internal developers and consultants can make and what you can do about it beforehand.
We recently did a demonstration of our SharePoint business application suite for a major Association. The organization contacted us to look into one of our Office 365 SharePoint Online applications. They proudly stated that the organization was embracing a technology strategy to “move to the cloud”. They are moving to Remedyforce for IT Helpdesk, Saleforce for CRM, two cloud HR apps, a home grown Intranet, cloud email and more.
Each of these systems has separate user interfaces, and most have separate sign-ons. Plus they are using SharePoint (another sign-on and user interface) for collaboration and document sharing. So while they may lower hardware costs by deploying “siloed SaaS applications” they are creating more complexity for the business user by making them carry around a notebook of passwords and a binder of user manuals for each new application. Additionally information sharing and data integration between applications is nearly impossible. The following is from PC Magazine as the definition of a siloed application:
"An application that does not interact with other applications or information
systems. A siloed application is any software that functions on its own to solve
a problem. Such applications are often found within the many departments of
Discover how to use Office 365 SharePoint Online as a CRM!
Here at SP Marketplace we hear from SMBs every day looking for an alternative to Salesforce for their sales team. They tell us as their organization grows they cannot afford the rising costs, especially when they only use a subset of the features. It’s a powerful CRM solution, but should you pay for that power if you don’t use it?
We hear this most with Salesforce. The SMB with a small sales team starts with the base module for 5 users or less at $25 / user / month, then as the organization and requirements grow the per user price creeps up to $125 per user per month. If the organization now has 15 reps, the annual bill tops $20,000! Microsoft Dynamics at $65/user/month, is half that but still over $10,000 per year!
Stale and stagnant Intranets are out; active Intranets are the next big thing. So what is an Active Intranet? It’s a vibrant, dynamic and flexible portal that serves as the hub for your organization’s communication and collaboration.
Driven by operational activities and events, the Active Intranet is a next generation departure from traditional Intranet portals. Gone are the days where content is manually updated by content administrators who divert precious resources chasing news around the organization, ultimately ending up with stale, stagnant content that is of little interest to users.
So what is an Active Intranet exactly?
At the core of an Active Intranet is its ability and willingness to engage audience members by routinely presenting new and relevant information from inside and outside the organization.
External news, reports and industry intelligence is often delivered through news feeds, Twitter and social networking sites like LinkedIn. That part is already available and easily added to an Intranet page using apps or web parts. What becomes the challenge is receiving up-to-date, timely internal organization news.
Posting announcements and events is standard practice for every organization’s Intranet home page. But keeping those announcements and events current is the challenge.
Internal news is often derived from operational activities and events:
Choosing an Intranet is a big decision and a lot of time and effort goes into making that final choice. When you do make that decision, you want to be sure it’s the right decision. Here at SP Marketplace, we have deployed Intranet solutions on Office 365 for more than 700 customers and we’ve put together what we have found to be the five biggest consequences of choosing the wrong Intranet solution.
1. Spending too much for a pretty site
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is they blow most of their Intranet budget on building a beautiful site that does not do much. We have seen scores of companies that come to us after hiring consultants to build a highly graphical home page only to see the project fail because the end result provided little value to employees resulting in dismal user adoption.
An Intranet is not like your Internet, which must impress visitors and acts as a window to your company’s products and services. An Intranet is intended to be an operational hub for collaboration, news, and a consistent way to access internal services. If you are an SMB with a limited budget, choosing pretty over purpose can be disastrous. Consider choosing an out-of-the-box Intranet solution that not only looks good but also is ready to deliver function that can drive user adoption and a quick ROI.
For many small to medium organizations (SMB) IT support is little more than sending an email to the IT person, or seeing them in the hall, or lobbing in a phone call and hope he/she is in. But as the organization grows the "seat of the pants" approach can lead to chaos. Many SMBs start with a simple email-based IT Help Desk setup, but as they grow and as service requests increase, the quality of service drops drastically. The IT support team gets into a fire-fighting mode, just resolving requests to avoid service failure. After losing track of a few requests, or having software update tracking get out of hand, the IT group can quickly lose credibility in the organization.
Enter Office 365 SharePoint Online - a great platform for a ticketing solution
SharePoint Online has many of the functions that allow you to build a ticket tracking application. You can build a simple issue tracking solution using basic features, or you could take some deep SharePoint training and eventually build a full featured help desk solution if you have weeks to do it. Another option is to hire a consultant to build it, or start with a full featured template like SP IT Portal from SP Marketplace. This article provides a look at the features of a ticket tracking system, and suggestions for how to use SharePoint Online to deliver it.
The Arteries of Local Government: How Office 365 Can Be Used to Create an Organizational Hub for Employees
Driving more responsive citizen services and creating a citizen engagement strategy are ways local government can be more successful, forward-thinking and help transition from a department-centric approach to a citizen-centric approach. Beyond citizens, there is a key audience not to be overlooked that also plays an important role in how local government accomplishes both of the above: Employees.
While citizens may be the life blood of any city or county, employees are the arteries that help transport citizens and citizen requests throughout the system.
In our last two blog posts we talked about how department silos in local government can impede the ability to provide more responsive citizen services and engage citizens. It’s also important to point out that department silos can have a major impact on internal services to employees within local government.
Department silos began as a way to achieve more focus and specialization. This worked well at first but as citizen and employee needs evolved with advancing technology, department silos proved to be insufficient, especially in today’s fast-paced, information and consumer driven economy.
Department silos not only lead to inefficient delivery of services but inefficient delivery of internal services, such as HR, IT and Facilities, making it hard for employees to find and access the services they need most to do their jobs.
SP Marketplace has spent more than four years working tirelessly with organizations to help streamline processes and improve communication and collaboration. SP Business Suite has helped more than 500 organizations at every level, including local government, improve communication and collaboration.