6 Ways to Automate Processes Using SharePoint Online

Enhancing and automating processes is necessary—especially in today’s economic climate and competitive environment. There are numerous options and platforms that often dazzle. Next, we focus on SharePoint Online and the role of Microsoft 365 more broadly, exploring what it is, whether your company truly needs it, and providing examples of how to use SharePoint for business process automation (BPA).

What is business process automation?

Before delving into SharePoint’s capabilities, it is important to understand what business process automation, or BPA, is. BPA means using technology to automate complex business processes and functions that exceed conventional data processing and entry tasks. Essentially, its aim is to streamline and optimize workflows and reduce the number of manual activities.

SharePoint plays a significant role in implementing BPA by providing a collaboration platform that allows organizations to automate routine tasks, manage content, and facilitate smooth communication between teams.

Does your company need SharePoint automation?

To determine whether your company needs SharePoint automation, assess current workflows, identify bottlenecks, and recognize improvement opportunities. If your organization faces recurring tasks, challenges in document management, and working effectively together, SharePoint may be the right solution.

Automation can significantly reduce human errors, improve consistency, and free up valuable time so that employees can focus on more strategic tasks. SharePoint’s automation capabilities can be customized according to the specific needs of your organization, making it a suitable solution for companies of any size.

How to use SharePoint for business process automation?

Operational inefficiencies can lead to significant revenue loss. Market research firm IDC estimates that companies lose 20–30% of revenue annually due to inefficient processes. Using SharePoint workflows helps manage and automate various processes—from collecting signatures and feedback to monitoring routine activities.

Below we’ll explore in more detail how SharePoint can be used to automate workflows and provide an overview of other Microsoft 365 solutions that, when integrated, further increase productivity.

Real-time updates using SharePoint notifications

Stay informed of changes in various documents and files using SharePoint notifications This way, you receive notifications every time a file or folder important to you is changed. Users can easily set up notifications and alerts in SharePoint for lists, libraries, folders, files, or specific SharePoint rights or groups. The result is fewer situations where important documents or files have changed without the employees who use them daily being aware.

Set up confirmation flows

With Power Automate, you can activate the functionality of confirmation flows in SharePoint, especially for documents containing sensitive information. By creating document confirmation flows, you can smoothly manage document approval. Documents awaiting approval remain hidden until they have successfully gone through the process. This ensures a controlled and secure workflow so that important documents are visible only after all necessary approvals have been obtained.

Using SharePoint workflows to simplify processes

SharePoint-based workflows offer a versatile solution to solve common business problems, from approvals and feedback to digital signatures, task management, and content publication. For example, collecting signatures or requesting document approval requires manual effort but could be easily automated with SharePoint.

Task management and tracking, including forwarding documents and sending reminders, often requires significant additional work. This can be burdensome for you and your colleagues. Using SharePoint workflow templates automates specific tasks. For example, a SharePoint document approval workflow automates the review, tracking, and management of automatic reminders and forwarding during the document collaboration process.

In situations where tasks are delayed or other problems arise, existing workflows generate notifications that keep you informed. This not only reduces the need for constant manual monitoring but also ensures that you are immediately notified of any deviations in the workflow. Overall, SharePoint’s built-in workflows alleviate the burden of manual intervention in repetitive processes.

Using Power Automate in SharePoint

Power Automate, integrated with Microsoft Lists, SharePoint, and OneDrive, allows you to easily create workflows that save work time. Such automated flows help maintain consistency and efficiency in routine tasks. Power Automate extends possibilities even beyond SharePoint, covering various Microsoft 365 services and third-party applications if needed.

Here are several ways you can use Power Automate in SharePoint:

  • Data collection: Simplify data collection from Excel sheets, PDF files, and other documents. This speeds up the data acquisition, validation, and report generation process and improves data-driven decision-making.
  • Document processing: Power Automate allows you to automatically collect information from forms, PDFs, images, emails, and various data sources. This lets you create and share documents faster.
  • Workflow automation: Simplify and automate key steps in work processes. For example, you can automate tasks such as checking inventory, placing orders, filling invoices, and sending information to customers. Automating these routine processes saves valuable time and reduces the volume of lower value-added manual work.
  • Automating the flow of critical information: Ensure efficient handling of important documents and business information. Power Automate integrates seamlessly with SharePoint, offering numerous connections and “plugs.” This simplifies activities such as obtaining email attachments, monitoring social media updates, managing tasks, and much more. Additionally, you can automatically save and share this information with your colleagues, regardless of their location.
  • Automating manual and external party-related processes: Simplify processes that involve extra steps, such as data verification, sales information validation, and other workflows. Use the opportunities arising from SharePoint tools and various extensions to increase the accuracy and efficiency of task execution.
  • Automating repetitive work processes: Maximize your workday and reduce the time spent on activities from hours to minutes. Power Automate allows you to automate tasks such as sending emails, creating tasks in Planner, and sending messages to the team. This not only saves time but also ensures that routine processes operate consistently.

Joined forces with Microsoft Teams

SharePoint’s integration with Microsoft Teams opens up even more possibilities for collaboration automation. Create automated channels where activities in SharePoint trigger notifications or updates in Teams, raising team collaboration to a new level.

For example, you can automatically notify a Teams channel when a new document is uploaded to SharePoint, ensuring that relevant team members are informed without separate communication or sending an email.

User-friendly forms and data validation

Use SharePoint and Power Apps to create user-friendly forms. These forms can then be added to SharePoint, automating data entry. Apply validation rules to the data entered to ensure its correctness. Automatically collecting data through customized forms not only reduces errors associated with manual data entry but also improves the overall user experience. This supports the adoption of the Microsoft 365 platform throughout the company.

In summary

To survive in the competitive market, company processes must be efficient. SharePoint is a great tool for achieving this, offering powerful automation features that improve collaboration and productivity. Assess your company’s needs, use SharePoint workflows, and adopt Power Automate for process automation. If it’s not quite clear how, then we’re happy to help you navigate the possibilities— contact us.

We have helped many companies increase efficiency using Microsoft 365 platforms, including SharePoint workflows, Power Automate, and Power Apps. Our goal is to provide tools for more effective business process management and their management. Over 15 years of SharePoint consulting and development experience allows us to offer solutions for tasks of various sizes and complexity.

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