At the heart of every business process is a document. For instance, a delivery order for every shipment; an invoice for every sale and etc… That’s why most business software will generate a documents or two as part part of the process. In fact, some of the most important information in your organization are kept in documents. Documents such as legal contracts, tenders, annual budgets, projects plan and etc… contains valuable information. Therefore, many people uses SharePoint to store and retrieve these documents in an effort to make them more accessible.
However, when you dive deeper, you’ll realize that accessing the information contained in the documents are actually more important than the documents itself. In fact, one can argue that these documents can be created faster and more accurately if the various contents within a document could be extracted from databases and structured input. Imagine the possibilities if every section within a document were merged from a database or a new data collection process. Collaborative document co-authoring or what I call “business documents automation” can easily change the way we use SharePoint.
Recently we were asked to automate a loans origination process. Essentially the process entails the sales officer to gather customer information and related transaction details such as loan collaterals and guarantors. These information needs to be verified by the credit team before they can be used in their credit proposal/application process. In fact, it was so tedious that they needed a special team to faciliate this loan proposal process. After this information is verified, then it is added to the loan applications details as a MS Word document. Then that document was routed through the reporting hierarchy to get the various approvals and to ensure compliance with their risks policy.
Needless to say, this process is slow and prone to risks as data can be changed and leaked out at any point. Therefore they wanted to change the approach. Instead of passing the document around for approval, they wanted the application and its related contents be sent to the respective approvers concurrently. When all the contents are verified and approved, then a single click will output the final documentation. The result: data got validated earlier, team are well informed of bottlenecks with the process and sales team gets faster response from everyone, thus reducing the time in takes to approve a loan.
From a technical perspective, all this made possible because of our new document assembly web part that can merge multiple data sources into a single Microsoft Word template. All the related data are kept within SharePoint or LOB databases. The workflows and status dashboards within Webparts360 ensures that all the required workfows/approvals are done quickly and conveniently within SharePoint.
And since all the data are stored in SharePoint, it is easy to search and retrieve information. Cool?