Why Decisions in a Company are Hard to Track
Every company needs and makes decisions and approvals. The very first time someone thinks about forming a company and moving forward is a decision. As companies grow, more and more decisions are needed. Some decisions are more important than others. Deciding on the paint color of your new office may be less important than why you decided to choose a vendor to support your business needs such as implementing a decision making Microsoft Power App for Office 365.
Decisions are vital across all business activities. Accounting, sales, operations and projects are just a few examples of where numerous decisions are made daily. Those decisions may be scattered across various platforms and mediums; emails, meeting minutes and a variety of technology platforms can all store decisions being made over time. The main issues with decentralized decisions being made over time are:
- When were the approvals made?
- Who made the decision?
- Is the person even with the company anymore?
- Why was the decision made?
- Can we learn or reuse that decision to make better decisions in the future?
Tracking Decisions in Office 365
Office 365 is a platform with a wide variety of business tools. You can do file management, tasks, email and calendars out of the box. One of the best tools in Office 365 is PowerApps. Microsoft PowerApps allows companies to create applications to meet all business needs. Those applications can connect to and send information not only to applications within Office 365, but to numerous external applications. Click here to see a list of other applications PowerApps integrates with.
An approval app for Office 365 can be used to manage business decisions. Those decisions can pull information from other applications. It can also send information to applications. Most importantly, those decisions are centralized, normalized, and tracked. This allows businesses to show those decisions to the right people who need the information so they can refer to it and make better decisions in the future. The application can be used on a mobile device as well as tables and desktops. It is compatible with Windows, Mac and most major browsers.
Common Decision Making App Features
A decision making app for Office 365 has many common components. eSoftware specializes in tailoring this application to meet your exact business needs. While there are other approval applications available for purchase, the Office 365 version can be tailored to your exact business needs. It can connect to many different types of applications and can have additional functionality added immediately or over time. Here are the most common features we implement.
Easy to Trigger a New Decision Request
There are 2 primary features every single decision making app needs. One is being able to quickly trigger a new decision request. This button is first and foremost in the application. Once triggered, a screen immediately appears to enter information related to the decision. Decision Types are security trimmed so a person can only submit decision requests related to their role. The people related to the approvals and how the decision is routed are already pre-determined based on the type of decision selected. The user can add attachments related to the decision which may be the purpose of the decision or files that support the overall decision. The user can enter in when the decision is needed by as well as comments to help explain what the decision is about.
See, Filter and Sort Decisions Related to Me
The second most common feature of an approval app for Office 365 is being able easily see, filter and sort decisions related to the user. The main dashboard defaults to showing decisions pending the users decision. We typically user large buttons with counts to show how many are in each status. We have also seen customers do variations by adding date ranges as filters. Clicking on a specific status filters the results of the decisions below. We use stoplight indicators to quickly see if a decision is overdue or close to being overdue. Additional fields related to decisions can be added as well.
See Decisions I Need to Act On
When a user clicks on a decision they need to act on, they are presented with full details about the decision. This includes all prior comments and approvals in an audit log as well as the original request. If the user is only a contributor or need to be informed, the buttons will dynamically update to only be the actions they are allowed to take. Only decision makers will see Approve and Reject. A common request is when rejecting a decision, a comment become mandatory as to why the decision was rejected.
Add and See Files Related to Decisions
There are many configurations of how to see files related to approvals. Sometimes the files are stored directly in the request. Other times the files are stored remotely and linked within the request. We have also setup document libraries in SharePoint that can capture all decision information as qualitative information on the file itself so a different group of people can see and act on the file. PowerApps offers a lot of flexibility in how files can be captured, stored and referenced either directly in the app or outside of the app.
See an Audit Log Related to a Decision
Audit log tracking is another highly flexible feature. We typically add the audit log directly to the decision so it can be referenced within the decision. We have seen customers want to store those audit logs in their own lists for lessons learned as well as metric tracking on all decisions made by a certain person, the frequency of decisions made and so on. Those metrics can be then leveraged using Power BI to create stunning trend analysis visualizations.
Manage Different Users and Roles
One of the best features we feel about our approval app is how easy it is to add users and roles. Only Admins can add users and roles. When adding or editing users in roles, those users must be licensed within your Office 365 environment. This ensures the right permissions can be granted throughout.
Manage Decision Types
Managing decision types is where the most thought-provoking conversations exist. Managing decision types and how information flows through the application can be very basic or very complex. Sometimes serial decisions are all that is needed. Other times companies need serial and parallel processing.
Different roles are attached to a GUI interface with the ability to move those notifications up and down throughout a specific decision type process. In the below example, notifications are sent out in the order each role is organized. Different parameters can be applied around who is informed, who is a contributor and who is a decision maker.
Manage Email Messages
Another common feature is being able to manage the email messages that are sent in relation to the decision. We recommend having the core information always shown in the message, but sometimes there is additional information that may help users out when approving a request. We have setup many different types of
configurations for this. The most common ones are:
- Adding the ability to alter email message for all emails per role.
- Adding the ability to alter email message for specific decision types.
- Adding the ability to allow users to add additional email comments that are not stored within the approval app before the email is sent.
In this example, admins can alter the email message for all decision types based on the roles within the application.
Purchase a Decision Making App for Office 365
eSoftware has implemented our decision and approval application for dozens of customers. Contact us today to learn how easy it is to add your own, streamlined app.