Does your organization have employees, customers or vendors? I thought so. How about contractors or partners? If you answered yes, then your team probably knows what it means to struggle with the onboarding process. Onboarding is vital because it conveys your organizational brand and values, explains your people and professional culture, aligns expectations and performance and provides the tools for the employee or business to be successfully assimilated into their position with a quicker ramp-up to productivity.1 Unfortunately, this process can often be very challenging for your team in turn leaving the people that you are onboarding feeling frustrated and often confused.

Is all of this sounding familiar?

Over the years many of our Microsoft Dynamics customers have reached out looking for help because they were suffering from an ineffective process. The good news is that there are solutions to help, and they even leverage your existing Microsoft experience. Want to learn how? Let's start by examining some of the key elements of an process:

  1. Collecting information from the new employee - This is important for generating documentation, ordering background checks, establishing account information.
  2. Completing tasks necessary to facilitate the onboarding - These tasks can span multiple departments (IT, Accounting, HR, Training, and Legal).
  3. Collecting signatures - After we have collected the information from our new hire and completed any prerequisite tasks we can now get signatures on government and organizational forms such as W-4's, I-9's,insurance forms, etc.
  4. First day items - On the first day many things will need to happen to make a good first impression on the new employee. Having a workspace setup, phone provisioned, access keys, system accounts, and orientation activities should all be ready for delivery.
  5. Follow up - A good onboarding process should continue past the first day on the job. It will be important to schedule checkpoints with the new employee to ensure all his/her needs are being met.

Depending on the organization, we have seen upwards of 200 different tasks that need to be done during the onboarding process.

So how can you begin to tackle all these elements effectively? Well, it turns out that that you may already own a tool that is a part of your Dynamics software implementation and is almost tailor made to handle your onboarding needs: SharePoint! Here are just a few of the capabilities SharePoint provides to support this process:

  1. Secure Document Management - One of the core features of SharePoint, document management will allow for the processing of all the required documents as well as delivery of orientation materials.
  2. Task Management - The built in task lists can be used to track the completion of all outstanding items and provide a dashboard view of team performance.
  3. Workflow - The workhorse of the entire solution, the workflow engine will allow you to orchestrate all the tasks including dependencies, reminders, and escalations.
  4. Metadata - Using metadata to tag the documents and list items is a powerful way to view your information and can be used in conjunction with the workflow to automatically generate documents.
  5. Electronic Forms - SharePoint's capabilities with electronic forms can provide an entry point for much of the data that is required from participants in the onboarding process including the new employee.

So How Do You Get Started?

You can get up and running with a basic solution in no time at all. The first step is to map out the onboarding process. You can use a tool like Visio or simply document the steps in a Word document. Identify dependencies to make sure items are done in the correct order. This will become your task list. Each task should have a user or users identified as the responsible team member.

Now you can establish a site to manage the onboarding process. Create the following SharePoint elements to host the content:

  1. A document library to store all employment documents. Include metadata to be able to group each employee's documents together. This could be a name or employee ID.
  2. A task list to manage all the tasks associated with the onboarding process.
  3. A custom list to initiate the onboarding process. This will be the list that you build your workflow on. Be sure to include all the basic information necessary to identify the new employee.

The next step is to build the workflow to match the process you documented earlier. You will use SharePoint Designer to build any workflows you need. Now you are ready to test the solution out!

Even the most basic solution can save organizations significant time processing new team members. But as you become comfortable with your workflows you can start to add more standard capabilities such as notifications, escalations, and basic document generation to further increase productivity. If you need to extend the capabilities of your solution to make the process even better, there are many ISV products you can add-on to SharePoint that can address specific needs. They include:

  • Nintex Forms - With the demise of InfoPath on the horizon having another forms product to build on may make sense. Nintex forms provides easy to build forms that can be extended securely beyond your firewall without exposing your SharePoint environment. Perfect for collecting information from your new hire during the process!
  • Nintex Workflow - Anyone who has used SharePoint Designer knows it is not the most intuitive tool for creating complex workflows and at times you may need to write code in Visual Studio. Enter Nintex Workflow - one of the most powerful enhancements to SharePoint, it will allow you to build highly complex workflows with the ease of creating a Visio diagram. It is also powerful enough to create Active Directory accounts and provision users in payroll systems.
  • Qorus Docs - Automatically generate complex documents for your new employee with all the data filled out with this tool. Apply business rules to build the right employment contract based on position, location, or other key information.
  • Docusign - Take those electronic forms/documents and have them digitally signed either before or on the start date. This allows the documents to continue the workflow process without human intervention.

Each tool can be implemented individually or together as a part of a complete solution. And the great thing about SharePoint and the tools listed above is they can be used for endless additional solutions in boarding solution too!

Most organizations already own some flavor of SharePoint and can use it to implement a very robust onboarding solution. From the most basic task management to electronic forms and digital signatures SharePoint can be configured to handle most any onboarding task.

In a complicated world of software products, finding the right tool for the right price can be a frustrating experience. Best of breed software can be a great choice if you have a large budget and don't mind having a host of specialized applications, but sometimes that is more than you need or can afford. Take advantage of your significant investment in Microsoft technologies by leveraging the Dynamics portal software you already own!

Want to learn more about how SharePoint can make onboarding easy? View our recorded webcast on the same topic!

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