Sharing information: straight to the point

One of the our most common requests from clients is the implementation of a database. The interesting thing however is that when clients say database, they don’t usually mean the IT definition of a database, but instead usually mean a generic repository of data of some sort. This is something we can usually provide out of the box with our existing services such as profile snippets, news blogs, events calendar, case studies/projects snippets and the like. Other times all they want to do is request information in a consistent way which can then be stored in something like an Excel file or an external system. Again, using a form thats sends data as an email which is then manually copied and pasted into an Excel file is much cheaper and easier than developing a bespoke system so this is what we usually recommend

Despite all of the above, sometimes it’s not enough. With the recent upgrade of Sharepoint 2007 to Sharepoint 2013 we decided to seize on the opportunity to give you more in a consistent, sustainable and cheap way of improving the way you work. To do this we have developed two new pieces of functionality with tight integration with Sharepoint

  1. Output and display data from Sharepoint Lists
  2. Store content from a web form to a Sharepoint list.

We believe these changes not only are going to be wonderful additions to the user experience for website visitors, but also improve and simplify the business processes of your department.

 

Output and display data

This may be something you’ve seen before. It started with the IS Service Catalogue about 6 months ago but it has since been improved and offers more functionality for departments. It’s incredibly simple to use too. In this example, IS wanted to list all the different types of services offered by the department to its customers and also provide some brief information on what it does and how it works. All this content is stored in Sharepoint and offers a whole range of rows and columns in a ‘glorified’ Excel spreadsheet type interface. We created a new View in Sharepoint called ‘Web View’ which allowed us to choose only columns and rows that we wanted to show on a website by creating rules. This is one of the most powerful parts of what Sharepoint has to offer.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 14.51.11

Then in Dreamweaver we can use the new snippet to pull that information into a data grid view where we decided to show 2 columns and all of the rest of the data in a pop up in a table view. As for filtering we asked to show one dropdown and a single search box that would search all of the columns for keywords.

The level of customisation can go even further. Paginated or fixed height data grids, up to 3 filters (drop downs), specific column searching, custom pop up headers, custom ordering and much more.  This can all be done directly in the snippet with no bespoke development required.

We’re currently running trials of this with KentHealth and Kent Law School to display their successful fund applications and research expertise respectively. A similar version of this has also been implemented on the Rendition Project website which shows just how much is possible.

 

Web form to Sharepoint

We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t be asking for any personal information over email and it should be sent and stored securely. But unless there is a system in place, departments don’t have much of choice. Thats where our new webforms to Sharepoint snippet steps in. It allows web publishers to request data from users using a standard web form, which is then stored directly into a Sharepoint list which has a sophisticated permissions structure ensuring adequate security of your users data. It allows you to also control and improve your business processes. Examples of how this could be used are:

  • Equipment loans
  • Workshop/training booking forms
  • Requesting personal staff or student information
  • Creating a directory of information without manual work

We at Web Solutions will be using this functionality for our Workshops system and we estimate it will save us 10 minutes per application. With 8 applicants per workshops and approximately 30 workshops per year we are able to save 40 hours per year. The huge benefit in a system like this is that it’s completed supported with a  set of existing functionality that publishers can make use of. Because its fully supported, when new features are added, all can benefit from it. In addition, Share Point is also fully supported by IS with free training and extensive features available for ordering and processing data obtained.

We are currently running a trial of this functionality with our workshop processes and a department within HR. If you’re interested in taking advantage of these features please get into contact with Web Support.

 

Conclusion

These are all relatively advanced features but we believe it should catch 10-20 important business procedures per year in a way that is not only sustainable but incredibly easy to use. If you would like to know more about what we have to offer please feel free to get into contact with us.

 

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