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SharePoint Automation

Cambridge PowerApps and Flow User Group Two, guest post by Laura Graham-Brown

By SharePoint Automation

Thursday 2nd May

The user group was held in the impressive Bradfield Centre in Cambridge. Great space with comfortable lecture space for the presentation and space for refreshments and networking afterwards.

Sharon Sumner and PowerApps

Sharon Sumner opened up the user group with a challenge for a teams integrated solution to win a t-shirt in a future meeting.

Sharon then presented regarding solutions that Casper 365 have provided for students starting at university. The project included challenges such as a splash screen, giving students access to an app without giving access to the data and handling 2 tenancies and therefore using external approvals. Casper 365 had discussions with Microsoft and found solutions before Microsoft released updates that would solve the issue.

Sharon’s team then completed a 5 day challenge to deliver a solution to allow students to book their room. The solution was handed over to customer with the expectation that the customer would expand the solution, an idea few companies aspire to sadly.

Brian Dang from Microsoft

The meeting moved onto a remote session from Mr Dang dialling in from Redmond. Mr Dang’s story is a wonderful one except I feel Microsoft gained a superstar and a school lost the best teacher they had ever had.

He did a wonderful introduction in how to make an app responsive using properties such as App.DesignWidth and Parent.Orientation. He then moved onto PowerApps and Power BI working together by using Power BI embedding.

He closed with giving out links to help us explore the possibilities of the above topics.

Responsive Apps            http://aka.ms/reponsiveness

Embedding Power BI     https://aka.ms/pbiinpa

I think we disappointed Mr Dang in being shy in questions, but to be honest I just wanted to go and try somethings out after his demos.

GSK’s Power Rangers

Simon Owen created a group within GSK that meets once a week for an hour to solve challenges set by various people within the business. As a joke it got called the Power Rangers, the name stuck. The group has created a variety of reports in the 60 minute slot and educated the members by sharing and brain storming together. It held it’s first all day hackathon and plans future ones.

It has not had a formal structure, permission to exist or weighed down by long design and project planning. Its like a mini hackathon once a week. Through internal communications the group now has international members across the globe, sadly GSK isn’t in Antarctica so only 6 continents. It also has been noticed by senior management and welcomed.

Simon’s passion for encouraging others was obvious. He is one of the reasons I’m very proud to be part of the team at GSK.

Networking

The evening concluded with networking and subway boxes, kindly sponsored by GSK. Everyone was very keen to share and make connections. On a personal note it was great to see my youngest enjoying sharing with similarly technical minded people and being welcomed even though they were the youngest there at 19.

Conference materials

Are available here.

Next Meeting

The next meeting, on 8th August, will have 2 speakers people pay money to see, Chris O’Brien and Samit Saini. Details can be found at https://www.powerplatformug.com/meetings/event-description?CalendarEventKey=39323f4c-6e51-4046-a650-49ef323a5b2f

With the help of Business Cloud Integration, Downing College uses SharePoint Online, PowerApps & Flow to replace over 25 paper-based student forms

By SharePoint Automation

Summary

Downing College in the University of Cambridge was founded in 1800, set amidst 20 acres of magnificent grounds in the heart of the city. Downing College is a community of committed scholar and students, current and future leaders in their fields consisting of 420 undergraduates, 330 graduates and 130 staff.

While Downing College is surrounded by tradition and the past, they looked to Business Cloud Integration to help bring their processes and student experience up to date.

Using SharePoint Online, PowerApps and Flow we replaced over 25 paper-based student forms with mobile enabled, automated processes. The solution allows students, fellows, tutors and college administrative staff to easily monitor, manage and process student life digitally.

Challenge

The initial requirement from Downing was to replace their paper-based student forms in SharePoint Online. Working together we quickly realised the complexity of the task, with multiple Office365 tenancies, external users and students’ data to protect we needed a fast, flexible and secure solution architecture.

Students need to communicate and work with the administrative staff of the college to process funding, accommodation, travel arrangements, memberships, course administration and events. The result is many complex and multi participant processes currently using paper-based forms.

The key challenge was to create a solution that would be easy to use and govern, was fully automated and would be adopted by all students and staff.

Strategy

With help and guidance from Business Cloud Integration the following was designed and then deployed using our own Casper365 Office 365 and SharePoint automation platform.

Architecture & Design – the collaboration between multiple tenancies and users’ types needed an overall strategy to implement. External users needed to participate in the flow processes and with 250+ new students being added every year the solution needed to scale. Student details need to be secured and so an API was developed to link between dynamic student data and a locked down vault in SharePoint Online that only allows App / API access.

PowerApps – used to submit, track and progress student requests. Students, tutors and admin staff can use the app on any mobile device, tablet and PC alike providing the modern app experience with built in security and functionality.

SharePoint Online – using a combination of site collections in SharePoint Online with tight governance strategies, data is stored and accessible to the Administration teams once the students have added via the Apps. Additionally, with SharePoint SPFX webparts were developed to manage the allocation of student claims to various funds. SharePoint accesses student data only as needed and securely via the custom API.

Microsoft Flow – the automation engine to process complex approvals through multiple layers of administration staff, tutors, directors of studies and department heads.  Flow did present a challenge for external user input and so an SPFX webpart was developed in conjunction with the Common Data Services to manage External Flow users.

Results

Administrative time has been massively reduced and the students are using the modern technology they expect from a high-profile University of Cambridge College.

The solution is secure, modern and highly collaborative. The next phase of work will be to implement PowerBI to report on student activity and provide dashboards.

UK-based business leader and consultancy turns to Business Cloud Integration and Microsoft 365 solutions for assessment automation

By SharePoint Automation

Summary
Cartezia is a well-established UK based technology business builder and consultancy owned and managed by thought leader Dr. Uday Phadke. Dr. Phadke has been actively involved in the building of over 100 technology firms over the last 2 decades and is a well renowned and respected author of business strategy and scale-up books.

Following the success of the “Tigers, Camels and Unicorns” book which summarises Dr. Phadke’s analytical approach and new methodology of measuring and guiding business growth, there was great demand for a Scale-up manual and tool set. The Scale-up manual launched in November 2018 and prior to its launch, Cartezia entered into a partnership with Business Cloud Integration. The goal of the partnership was to develop and deploy a digital toolset to compliment the books and allow businesses to assess, review and make directional business decisions.

The content – already endorsed by Microsoft’s Warwick Hill as “a unified toolkit which helps innovative companies to go beyond the start-up buzz and to scale-up systematically to become commercially successful enterprises” is powered by Casper365™ to leverage the Office 365 investment and drive further adoption within the Office 365 tool set.

Challenge
The Scale-up Manual analyses data from many points of view within a business and is a mentor-guided programme of tools which were initially developed within Excel. The 50+ tools within the system needed to be individually analysed, developed and easily deployable to any organisation with an Office 365 tenancy.

The tooling needed to be easy to use, as well as provide individual assessment scoring, company wide scoring, and gap analysis to highlight and allow business direction decision and planning.

The process is designed to be repeated with measurable progress and as such, required a method of deployment of an entire solution each time an assessment was to be performed. Additionally, assessments may be performed by different business units and each of these needed to be secured and governable.

Strategy
With help and guidance from Business Cloud Integration the following was designed and the deployed using Business Cloud Integration’s Casper365, Office 365, and SharePoint automation platform.

SharePoint Online – over 50 tools were created and deployed using advanced, custom developed SPFX webparts with data stored in security trimmed SharePoint Lists. The service is deployed on a subscription basis and so the data is stored locally, and the analysis tooling is accessed via API to active subscribers. The solution uses Managed Meta Data for multi-language support which is centrally managed and distributed via a Triple Chasm Office 365 Tenancy. Key to the success of the platform is both parity with the published material and a meaningful and seamless user experience which meant the latest SharePoint Online tooling needed to be leveraged in addition to custom development, ensuring that the solution was re-deployable.

Casper365™ Portal – As the solution requires multi-tenant management, the Casper365™ portal was used for the deployment of assessments as site collections within each client tenancy. In addition, the mentoring is delivered by intervention agencies and partners who each have a white labelled Casper365™ Office 365 automation portal to manage programmes, mentor external access and oversight by themselves. The Portal is co-branded and is used for each programme attendee to login to create each separate assessment tool.

Results
The provision of “The Triple Chasm Model Platform” is being rolled out to hundreds of organisations in the UK in 2019, with programmes targeted to achieve government and global targets for business scale ups. Global roll out will shortly follow and the platform itself will be developed to train and support mentors worldwide.

The technology platform used means that company data can be anonymised and analysed to continue to further the research of the initial 400 companies used to develop the initial strategy by Dr. Phadke and can provide extremely valuable insight as to business growth and innovation worldwide.

Following the mentored programme businesses can continue to subscribe the platform and toolset to further drive SharePoint Online adoption and leverage their Office 365 investment.

Microsoft Content Services: the future of ECM

By SharePoint Automation

Traditional ECM is heading for extinction. Long gone are the days of static content archives, where valuable time, energy and resource is poured into creating valuable content, only for it to be lost, never to be seen again in a sea of dormant documents and cluttered information silos. Enter dynamic content services from Microsoft.  

Content is often now the most critical digital asset for any enterprise organisation, and the process of organising, protecting and managing this content can seem like a daunting task. That’s why organisations are turning in droves to Microsoft Content Services for a one-stop-shop Content Services solution. 

The modern approach to content services is much more user focused. Where previously Enterprise Content Management was designed to serve those who needed to control and record content, Content Services are designed to enhance the productivity of the users who are actively working with content daily, and need a more dynamic approach to content management while still offering enhanced data governance and reporting capabilities. 

Designed to deliver business value proactively and throughout a content lifecycle, rather than after-the-fact management of dormant assets, content services allow for both user-friendly personal management (copy, move, tag with metadata) using familiar and intuitive tools in the Microsoft Office Suite, and organisational management (knowledge management, record retention, information lifecycle management) across the whole of Office 365. 

There are four pillars of Microsoft content services: 

Harvest 

Content in a traditional ECM cycle often ends with document retention or deletion, but all content exists to serve a future purpose, to inform decisions, support new content creation or research, or inspire future projects, so it’s important for organisations to be able to intelligently analyze, discover, reuse, search for content. It needs to be quick for users to find easy and to access.  

Discoverable content within an organisation generally exists in multiple places, and the robust search functionality in Office 365 searches across Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business and OneDrive to rapidly surface information where and when it is needed, compiling security-trimmed results from both cloud and on-premise content.  

Social themed tools in Office 365 such as Delve and the Microsoft Graph also give you access to useful insights designed to increase your business productivity, such as who’s working on which projects, information that is likely to be useful to each user based on their previous activities, and the ability to surface content where it needed, regardless of where it is stored. 

Create 

Most information in enterprise organisations today is found in dynamic documents that are edited, updated, and reworked multiple times during their lifespans. Rather than being static documents that are created, filed away and inevitably lost, the most valuable content today is created dynamically and collaboratively. With content velocity, information becomes more valuable over time, increasing in relevance the more it is edited and re-used.  

Content velocity needs to be balanced with appropriate control and management of documentation however, especially in regulated industries. With Microsoft Content Services, content can be managed as soon as it is created, through the use of template-driven content types, metadata and governance policies, so you can easily create, collect, and classify the content you need to get work done. 

Coordinate 

Office 365, powered by SharePoint and OneDrive, is the place everyone you work with – both inside and outside your organisation – comes to collaborate, communicate and get work done in real time. The tightly integrated capabilities within SharePoint and OneDrive mean that content can easily be found, governed and consumed across all of Office 365, all through the familiar and intuitive interface of the Microsoft Office Suite. Your users are happy using the tools they know and love, and Microsoft’s Governance and security policies are simple, intelligent, and automated to help protect content in all phases of the content lifecycle, so you’re happy in the knowledge that your data is being effectively managed and securely protected, even when collaborating with external third parties. 

The clear and logical structure of the SharePoint information hierarchy means you can structure your teamwork, and share, discuss, and co-author content using groups, metadata, taxonomy, Teams, Flow, and PowerApps. 

Protect 

Manage compliance and reduce risk with information lifecycle governance, including information architecture, auditing, rights management, records and retention labels, and eDiscovery. SharePoint continues to build on a long tradition of supporting information lifecycle governance, records management and e-Discovery, and Microsoft are investing heavily developing new capabilities and integration throughout the entire Office 365 suite. The greatly enhanced and advanced data governance features in Office 365 mean that records retention, disposition and overall lifecycle governance are becoming ever more sophisticated. 

For example, records management and retention capabilities are now offered across Exchange, Skype, OneDrive, and SharePoint, that allow an administrator to define policy labels that enforce document retention and deletion policies, including those based on external events such as project closure, payment receipt, or manual review. With the introduction of conditional access policies, you can also control or prevent access to content based on data sensitivity, user location or device e.g. you can block access from certain countries or limit access to read only on users’ personal devices. 

Leveraging your Office 365 Investment 

Unlocking the full potential of the Office 365 platform is key to leveraging your return on investment. The Business Cloud Integration team offer guidance and support for the entire lifecycle of your SharePoint deployment, from initial guidance and Office 365 roadmap planning through to SharePoint design, build, development, and training. We also deliver a range of business ready solutions that can be deployed instantly, easily customised to fit your business requirements, and that are designed by a team with decades of experience and world class SharePoint Enterprise Content Management expertise. To find out more, contact us today. 

New AIIM Report reveals key insights into Office 365 Revolution

By SharePoint Automation

The new AIIM Office 365 Revolution Impacting Governance and Process Automation Report has been released this week, revealing a host of useful insights into the state of Office 365 adoption. Here’s our breakdown of the key takeaways.

1) Office 365 is being widely underutilised

Despite impressive widespread adoption of Office 365 – there are currently an estimated 120+million active commercial users of Office 365 monthly – research shows that very few users are taking advantage of the full and extensive capabilities of the platform, with tools such as Teams, Flow and even OneNote being widely underutilised. In fact, 40% of organisations say that their average user has little awareness of Office 365 capabilities.

Further, the results of this survey show that the decision to move to cloud is largely driven by a desire to consolidate, declutter, organise existing information, unify systems and increase compliance. It is surprising then to note that despite the powerful suite of ECM tools available in Office 365, the survey results also show that the majority of organisations use SharePoint as a complement to an existing ECM solution, rather than as the main system. This suggests again that for the majority of organisations, there is a lot more value to be leveraged from their SharePoint investment, by gaining a deeper understanding of the tools and features available for ECM.

2) Perceptions of SharePoint Online are changing and adoption is on the rise

Since 2013 there has been a dramatic shift in the way SharePoint Online is being perceived, and resistance to the cloud continues to decline. This is partly due to the raft of improvements and enhancements that have been rolled out over the past 5 years, but also due to an increased user confidence in the wide range of 3rd party add-ons available, and their impact on improving and personalising the SharePoint experience. It’s now easier than ever to tailor the SharePoint experience to your organisation’s unique processes and requirements, to ensure that your system is working as efficiently as possible for you and your organisation.

3) Security and governance concerns remain the key barriers to cloud migration

With high profile media coverage of data breaches in recent months, it’s surprising to learn that security and governance concerns (32% and 25% respectively) are still given as the main reasons preventing organisations from moving to the cloud. The security and governance benefits of SharePoint Online however are extensive, from automatic updates and patching, secure external sharing to automatic document retention workflow, and it is clear that many organisations have still yet to understand and leverage the full governance capabilities of Office 365.

The SharePoint solutions deployed in Casper365 give your users the autonomy to work as they need to and be more productive, while protecting your environment from SharePoint sprawl and maintaining essential governance and compliance standards. Casper365 solutions are deployed using managed Office 365 credentials, to ensure that the right people have access to the right permissions and information as determined by your team. Enhanced reporting and monitoring means that you can accelerate your users’ productivity while easily monitoring and maintaining key compliance standards.

With automatically deployed business ready solutions in Casper365, you can empower your teams to be highly productive, safe in the knowledge that governance is completely under control.

4) SharePoint enhancements – The possibilities are endless

SharePoint has a broad set of features that deliver the majority of features and functions required by the majority of organisations, however each organisation will have its own unique processes and requirements. That’s why SharePoint is designed to interact effectively and easily with a plethora of 3rd party applications: so you can extend the product to your organisation’s precise requirements without the need for custom code and deliver the solutions you need. There has been a clear shift in the past 5 years from add-ons being used in 2013 to “fix SharePoint shortcomings” to now, when the majority of respondents say they are using add-ons to enhance SharePoint’s core functionalities. 3rd party add-ons are empowering organisations to tap into the full potential of their Office 365 SharePoint Online deployment, and maximise on their digital investment.

Tools such as Casper365 offer a range of business ready solutions for business process automisation, IT governance and compliance, and much more, all of which can be deployed directly into your SharePoint tenancy for immediate use, and easily customized to fit your business requirements.

5) People want more from their SharePoint environment (and we’re delivering!)

The majority of respondents stated that the biggest ongoing issues for SharePoint in their organisation are persuading users to use adopt and use SharePoint (41%), aligning governance, security and usage policies with other enterprise apps (33%), and expanding the use of SharePoint for more business processes (35%). The Casper365 platform was designed and developed to address precisely these issues. Casper365 delivers seamless integration with an extensive range of existing and 3rd party business applications, giving your teams enhanced access to all the tools they need to get their work done, and deploys a range of business ready automation, governance and compliance solutions directly into your SharePoint environment.

Leveraging the full power of Microsoft tools and the fully mature Casper365 API means you gain unparalleled reporting and insights and enhanced functionality from your SharePoint environment, while your teams can securely use the 3rd party tools they know and love. Since people are happiest using the tools they know, happy users make for successful SharePoint adopters.

Unlocking the full potential of the Office 365 platform is key to leveraging your return on investment. Casper 365 offers a range of business ready solutions that can be deployed instantly, easily customised to fit your business requirements, and that are designed by a team with decades of experience and world class SharePoint Enterprise Content Management expertise. To find out more, contact us today.

Casper365 are proud to sponsor the AIIM Office 365 Revolution Impacting Governance and Process Automation Report.

Click here to access the full report.

And see here for a slide deck summary.

5 Reasons Why You Need Casper365

By SharePoint Automation

With the landscape of enterprise content management rapidly changing to incorporate the speed and size at which content is growing, it’s no surprise that over 300,000 organisations, including 85% of the Fortune 500, have turned to SharePoint and OneDrive in Office 365 for their content services.

The way enterprises interact with and manage their growing levels of content is being transformed, and now we are finally seeing enterprise content management solutions in Office 365 that are actually designed for the benefit of the day-to-day user, while simultaneously serving broader business content functions.

To support the deployment of business ready solutions in SharePoint and Office 365, Microsoft Gold Partner Business Cloud Integration have created Casper365: an automation platform that leverages your cloud platform to improve business productivity and drive user adoption. Read on to see why CIOs, CTOs, IT Directors and department heads trust Casper365 to deliver fast, secure and compliant SharePoint sites in their organisations, up to 60x faster.

  1. Business Ready Solutions at the Touch of a Button

Casper365 simplifies the deployment of complex sites and features by deploying fully configured, customised SharePoint site templates into your environment quickly and easily.

Casper365 gets your teams to work instantly with automated SharePoint site deployment. Rather than sites being created as empty shells that need configuring, customising, and populating with appropriate documentation, Casper365 instantly deploys consistent and well-structured project sites, pre-populated with the requisite documents, templates, permissions, flows and features. This means that your teams can begin new projects at the click of a button, safe in the knowledge that they have everything they need to just get stuff done.

  1. Simplified IT Governance and Control

The SharePoint solutions deployed in Casper365 give your users the autonomy to work as they need to and be more productive, while protecting your environment from SharePoint sprawl and maintaining essential governance and compliance standards. Users can be assigned a SharePoint site deployment allocation, with defined SharePoint site templates, and sites can be labelled with unique ideas or project codes. This ensures that the creation of sites is restricted only to those who have the authority to do so, guarantees that each site has been provisioned properly, and gives your IT governance team a single pane of glass overview of your environment.

With automatically deployed business ready solutions in Casper365, you can empower your teams to be productive, safe in the knowledge that governance is completely under control.

  1. Secure by Design

SharePoint solutions are deployed on the Casper365 platform using managed Office 365 credentials, to ensure that the right people have access to the right permissions and information as determined by your team. Enhanced reporting and monitoring means that you can accelerate your users’ productivity while easily monitoring and maintaining key compliance standards.

  1. Empower your Users

Service delivery automation in Casper365 means that you can delegate controlled functionality directly to the business. You determine which users can create sites, what type of sites they can create, and how many they can deploy to ensure that your environment is properly managed and governed. Delegating permissions for these sites in advance reduces the time lag in getting projects off the ground – a bonus for your end users – and significantly reduces unnecessary admin burden on your IT teams – a bonus for you! Empower your users, improve SharePoint adoption, and enjoy total peace of mind.

  1. Collaborate, Integrate, Motivate!

The Casper365 platform delivers seamless integration with an extensive range of existing and 3rd party business applications to give your teams enhanced access to all the tools they need to get the job done. Leveraging the full power of Microsoft tools and the fully mature Casper365 API means that not only do you gain unparalleled insights and enhanced functionality from your SharePoint environment, but your teams can continue to use the 3rd party tools they know and love. People are happiest using the tools they know, and happy users make for successful SharePoint adopters.

Casper 365 offers a range of business ready solutions that can be deployed instantly, easily customised to fit your business requirements, and that are designed by a team with decades of experience and world class SharePoint Enterprise Content Management expertise. To find out more, contact us today.