Clearly, email is not an effective way to manage requests – tracking and assigning requests, getting status, sending alerts, instituting workflows, generating reports, and more, are all hard, if not impossible, to implement with an email-based system. Most often, an email request will go “below the horizon” and get forgotten about until the end user or customer complains about a lack of response.
Using a request management system, such as Crow Canyon’s Request Manager for SharePoint, is an obviously superior choice. Let’s explore in detail how Crow Canyon’s solution helped a global organization bridge an international gap while vastly improving business productivity.
Email Just Does Not Work for Request Management
One of our clients, a U.S.-based consulting company, was experiencing significant problems using emails to communicate with its India-based subsidiary. U.S. employees were requesting research on legal issues during their day by sending emails to the India team, which worked overnight to deliver the results.
The use of email was originally chosen for no other reason than “everyone has it and is familiar with it”. This default choice did not require researching and choosing (or developing) another system. But the inadequacies of using email for request management became apparent almost right away.
Many issues originated out of using e-mail as the primary means of communication between the two teams. There were no mechanisms in place to track the progress of the request or check status. Employees could not check work logs; managers could not get reports. Being that the work was being done overnight, it often took another day to get answers to even simple questions and do follow up. It was difficult to determine due dates and set delivery expectations.
Critical Features Missing When Using Email for Request Tracking
Some critical features that were missing from the email-based system:
- Ability to track the progress of research requests.
- Real-time visibility into the current status of requests for all parties, including customers, management, and researchers.
- Adoption of modern solutions that would enable the company to discard outdated methods.
- Tools that could manage the entire workflow process beyond the request initiation phase.
- An interactive and easy-to-use application portal that enabled customers to submit their own requests and check on statuses of existing requests.
- Management needed access to robust reporting ability that could provide them with insights about the subsidiary’s productivity, such as outstanding issues and time spent working on requests.
It was clear that e-mail, by itself, wasn’t enough to get the job done. After listening to our client’s requirements, we recommended our Request Manager for SharePoint application.
Request Management with SharePoint
One of the key questions that all stakeholders were continually asking was, “What’s going on?” Management needed to know about current actions, employees needed to know the status of their requests, and the India-based researchers themselves needed more effective tools for communicating.
Our Request Manager platform addressed these issues by creating a comprehensive communication management framework that integrated seamlessly with Microsoft SharePoint. Instead of lost e-mail threads and messages with missing attachments, our system replaced all communications with ticketing technology. A ticket is a set of data that can be easily routed, tracked, measured, and analyzed — each ticket contains a wealth of valuable data based on client need, such as the requestor, assignee, due date, time & date stamps for all actions, related documentation, and so on.
Instead of initiating requests via e-mail, employees now create research requests directly in our system, where they are tracked, managed, and available for updates and review by all concerned parties. Request tickets are automatically routed to the most relevant recipient and, most importantly, their movement throughout the entire workflow is tracked, recorded, and saved. The issue of lost messages and dropped conversation threads disappeared, as all communications now shared a common form.
Reporting & Analysis: Insight for Management
Since all actions are automatically saved, the Request Manager is able to draw on a vast amount of data for reporting and analytics purposes. We provided our client with an intuitive dashboard interface that conveyed important real-time information, such as the number of outstanding requests, requests approaching their due date, and breakdowns of request statuses.
Our reporting capabilities, powered by robust filtering capability, enable management to build detailed reports that provided insights into operational aspects such as time spent completing requests and employee performance comparisons. These reports, all of which are fully configurable, enable management to discover bottlenecks which could then be improved upon.
Application Portal: Insight for Customers
An important component of our software package is an Application Portal for end users. This is an attractive, simple, and easy-to-use Web-based portal that allows users to submit new requests and view existing requests. With this portal, they instantly know the status of each report, the expected due date, who is working on it, and any issues or problems that the research team has encountered.
Communication Tools: Insight for Researchers
Researchers based at our client’s subsidiary office in India likewise benefit from the capabilities of Crow Canyon Software’s Request Manager. With just a few clicks, researchers can view tasks assigned to them, who they are doing it for, when the expected due date is, and other detailed task-specific details (e.g., documents, links, etc.). This interface enables them to enter updates, status changes, and communicate directly with the original requestor.
The Crow Canyon Request Manager for SharePoint provides a full, comprehensive view to all concerned parties as to the status, communications, and progress of each and every research request. Our solution has greatly improved the research request process at the consulting company, resulting in smoother operations, happier employees, and better service to their clients.
Crow Canyon Software delivers the power of a connected, digital workplace to your organization, helping you be more successful and competitive. We provide the tools that allow you to gain the maximum benefit from SharePoint and Office 365, Microsoft’s premier collaboration platforms.
Want to learn about how our business productivity applications for SharePoint and Office 365 can power up your organization? Give us a call at 1-925-478-3110 or contact us by e-mail at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!