Optimizing Business Processes with Office 365, Teams and the Power Platform
Microsoft 365 provides an extensive set of tools providing a method to optimize your organizations business processes. In this post I’ll provide an example. When building a process, I want to focus on these attributes;
- Creator – Easy to create and maintain.
- Consumer – intuitive and encapsulated (not having to use many systems to get their job done)
- Foster the ability to collaborate on work items throughout the process.
- Continually provide visibility and insights into the process for all stakeholders
For this example, I’m using a safety walk. A safety walk is when a safety inspector walks the floor of a facility and records their findings. If the inspector finds an issue requiring action, they begin the process. An action can be dispatching a service technician to fix something that is broken or creating a purchase requisition to obtain a product or service needed to remediate the issue. In many organizations this would involve access to several systems making the process a bit cumbersome and storing data in silos making reporting difficult. To simply the process we’ll use just one interface Microsoft Teams and remove the data silos for information so it can used as a feedback loop helping to continually improve the process.
Here is a high level overview of the architecture.
The “Safety Tracker” app was built using Power Apps. I created one from scratch with no code in a few hours. When an issue is created several workflows are started using Power Automate.
- A text is sent to the facilities manager. Whenever an issue occurs, we want to ensure all relevant parties are notified and we are providing visibility and transparency.
- A post is created in Teams. This gives visibly to our co-workers and provides an opportunity for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
- Depending on the type of issue we have the ability to begin a process in another system. In our example we need to add new safety helmets to stock so we are creating a purchase requisition. If a repair were needed a work order would have been created and the appropriate technician dispatched. In my example I’m showing Dynamics as the receiving system however this can be SAP, Oracle, ServiceNow etc. there are connectors for 200+ systems. The relevant data from these system is also shown within Teams so the system consumer doesn’t have to jump to another system to complete the process.
- We then update views and list to simplify and consolidate data for reporting. Power BI reports and dashboards were created and added as a tab within the Team.
- Additional Tabs are added to Teams to include end to end functionality for the process. In my example they include OneNote and File Share capabilities for sharing and reviewing documentation.
To see a demo of the system please check out this video.
I hope you found this post useful and it has inspired you to try this approach on your use case.