Imagine: you’re trying to focus on your most important projects, the ones you know will take your company to the next level, but the email notifications won’t stop. You can’t focus for more than a few minutes, and every day more and more of your time is spent responding to vacation requests or checking on budgeting processes. If this scenario sounds like a typical workday, your organization may want to consider creating or optimizing your SharePoint workflows.

By optimizing workflows, your company will be able to focus its attention on big-picture goals rather than administrative minutia. This will help reduce the stress of individual stakeholders, and companies that are already scaling will encounter fewer growing pains.

If you use older versions of SharePoint workflows, you may think that it’s not worthwhile to update your system. However, the addition of Power Automate in SharePoint means delivering benefits even to companies with pre-existing workflows.

 Read more: How we helped Colorado Mountain College utilize Power Automate to enhance their workflows.

In this article, we’ll first cover the value of Power Automate, then what goes into both optimizing workflows and creating new ones. To wrap up, we’ll highlight some common SharePoint workflow pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Power Automate + SharePoint

Before we get into the why and how of optimizing workflows, let’s take a moment to expand on what makes Power Automate so useful in the modern workplace. This solution can help address initial use cases within Microsoft 365 (M365), such as our earlier example of a stakeholder being bombarded by emails that prevent them from achieving their big-picture goals.

Beyond this benefit, Power Automate is unique in how it integrates with many third-party solutions. For example, you can build a workflow that pulls information from a Smartsheet and puts it into SharePoint. This capability allows Power Platform to serve as a bridge when operating with multiple disparate tools, such as Google, Microsoft, and Slack.

Optimizing Current SharePoint Workflows with Power Automate

While it may be tempting to continue with older versions of SharePoint workflows, the addition of Power Automate ensures that switching to an updated version will reap continuous rewards.

Besides the previously mentioned benefits of Power Automate, this system also makes workflows easier to maintain. Users don’t need a background in coding and website design to create an effective SharePoint site.

Power platform also ensures a lower learning curve for people adapting to this new system. Affirma can help you develop a few core use cases that can later be replicated as needed. Once we help you set up new workflows, you can take the reins yourself thanks to Power Automate’s user-friendly methods. In the past, we’ve helped users create a questionnaire via PowerApps so that stakeholders can request new SharePoint sites, thus allowing the new workflows to be responsive to the company’s shifting needs.

Potential Challenges

While there are many advantages to optimizing your SharePoint workflows, users with pre-existing workflows should be aware that this process will require development time. Hiring an experienced consultant, such as those at Affirma, can help facilitate this process. As of now, there is no conversion tool to bring old SharePoint sites into Power Platform, so companies must redevelop their workflows from scratch in the new system. While such an undertaking will take time, it’s important to remember that the eventual return on investment will far outweigh this initial hurdle.

Best Practices

If you’re considering optimizing or creating new workflows, we have some initial steps to guide you on your journey. First, understand how many workflow possibilities exist. Power Platform allows for near-endless customization, so take time to consider what processes you want to automate and how you would like that automation to occur. Second, if you have older workflows, consider which of them should be kept, revamped, or discarded. Once you have decided, it’s time to rebuild those workflows with Power Automate.

Creating New SharePoint Worflows with Power Automate

Even if you have no prior experience with SharePoint workflows, Power Automate’s low learning curve allows new users to understand the platform relatively quickly. Additionally, if your company already has an M365 subscription, you’re likely already paying for Power Platform. Utilizing this service could come with no additional charge.

Potential Challenges

As with any new process, there can be some change management required as people grow accustomed to a different system. Employees may still email HR representatives about processes that have been moved to workflows, so expect an adjustment period as your stakeholders adapt to SharePoint. Additionally, keep in mind that creating workflows will require a high initial investment in terms of time to both decide what will be automated and implementing those decisions. As mentioned before, this development time will prove itself worthwhile in the long run as employees are able to dedicate their days to their most essential tasks.

Best Practices

For those new to SharePoint and Process Automation, we recommend starting small. When thinking of common time-consuming tasks, look at what change would bring the highest benefit while also causing the lowest impact. For example, small-midsized companies could create a form for employees to fill out when submitting vacation requests. Such simple alterations will both streamline operations and show wary stakeholders that the transition to SharePoint and Power Automate is worth the time needed to develop workflows.

Before beginning your workflow optimization, identify painful areas where automation would benefit your company. These often include processes that cause lots of emails or depend on Excel, such as vacation requests, expense reimbursements, or budgeting processes. By beginning with these issues, you can get a grasp of how Power Automate works and begin alleviating the workload of certain stakeholders.

If you need assistance navigating Power Automate or would like to speak with experts on how to best optimize your workflows, Affirma’s SharePoint experts can help. We’ve created SharePoint workflows for clients in a variety of industries, ranging from education to medicine to finance.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Whether you’re new to SharePoint or familiar with the system, there are certain steps you can take to ensure the optimization process runs as smoothly as possible. Begin by choosing the right platform for your needs. SharePoint and M365 have nearly unlimited capabilities, so it’s important to ensure that you’re putting your workflows in the best format possible. We also recommend doing a lot of planning to avoid unintended effects. For example, you wouldn’t want notifications about vacation requests going to the wrong person. To avoid these missteps, work with experienced consultants like Affirma to ensure you’re making the most out of SharePoint’s possibilities and setting your workflows up for success.

Next Steps

If you use older SharePoint workflows and are hesitant to move to Power Platform, keep in mind that updating workflows will only become more difficult the longer you wait. Process automation is a worthwhile investment with long-term benefits that will only increase over time. By being proactive about upgrading workflows now, you’ll help your company reach its maximum capabilities and stay focused on its high-order targets. If you’re ready to take this leap and bring your organization to the next level, lean on Affirma for how to get started with SharePoint workflows.

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