Improving the Employee Experience Part 2: Workflow Automation + Governance in Teams

Workflow Automation

Microsoft Teams is one of the best employee experience platforms out there. It reduces context switching, helps employees to be more productive and it empowers non-techy colleagues to solve their own problems too.

So, in this second of a three-part series we continue our chat with friend and MVP Joel Oleson who talks about Teams governance, workflow automation and the importance of digitizing business to become more agile.

Why is it important for organizations to replace manual processes with workflow automation in Microsoft Teams?

Joel: In the Microsoft ecosystem, we leverage the Power platform for automation. It’s a low code, no code solution. It’s designed to empower the business to be able to take advantage of these tools to build, say, chatbots, forms or web-based apps.

This lends itself towards the idea of “Teams as a platform” or “Teams as a front end” – a common interface, reducing context switching, making it so that it’s easier for the users to get their work done more efficiently.

And absolutely, from an automation perspective, being able to see the data and make more empowered decisions fast.

Who is responsible for introducing workflow automation?

Joel: It’s the lines of business, not just about any one department. It’s about enabling somebody who sees a problem to be able to resolve it.

For example, people on the front line – like nurses.

There’s a template for hospitals using Microsoft Teams and the power platform that enables them to do the rounding.

They can now go from room to room using Microsoft Teams video chat with the families, which was especially useful during COVID, to keep communication between the patients and their loved ones.

What are the benefits of workflow automation?

Joel: Everybody benefits because it’s empowering. It’s essentially allowing the information workers to be able to solve their own problems, whether it’s building dashboards or tools for being able to handle approvals; or being able to review data through dashboards; or being able to quickly manage their own data or collaborate with their team members. It’s about efficiency and productivity.

The business value is it’s always about time savings. It’s about solving business problems, because when the tech is a lot closer to the users’ they can solve their own problems.

So, it’s very empowering for end users. And it’s great for lone IT guy, who has got millions of things on his plate, to enable people to self-manage and self-serve too.

Plus, from an IT perspective, a lot of this is about getting the tools in the hands of users and democratizing the tools for the business benefit.

How does having one platform for all apps and services help with governance?

Joel: This is where the recommendation for a centre of excellence comes in. You should absolutely be able to understand what connectors are being used and where are they being used. Being able to say, “This is a team with external users on it, let’s look at what they’re connecting to” is vital.

It’s essential to have governance around which connectors are used on which teams. It’s also important to have policies around being able to see who is using what and when. And, from an awareness perspective, of lifecycle managing or archiving unused content.

Plus, there’s legal and regulatory requirements for data that absolutely have to be considered and having central oversight over them is key.

How do self-service portals maximise limited HR and IT resources?

Joel: Self-service is empowering for the user. Plus, it reduces the number of resources departments, like HR or IT, need to provide.

Any given department can essentially wrap up and capture the self-service interfaces in Teams and provide them to the rest of the organization.

Power Apps can be used to build an app or act as a connector, to connect to the back-end data. And whether it’s a form or whether it’s some kind of business solution that people can then plug in their data, or whether it’s something simple like timesheets. Why ask employees to go log into a different timesheet system when it could be integrated within Teams?

Why is it important for companies to digitize their records, documents, and information?

Joel: It’s essentially about the speed of business. The quicker your business can respond to environmental changes or changes in the industry the better off it will be. We only have to look at the demise of Blockbusters to see what happens to businesses that can’t change fast enough.

That’s the speed of business that we’re always looking for.

Digitizing records, information and documents is about increasing the speed of business and being more agile.

Want to upskill your EX game?

We’ve got you covered with some great content:

  • Read part one of our Q&A with Joel Oleson where he talks about Teams as a Platform and how to avoid the Teams’ “sprawl”.
  • Watch our “Teams as a Platform” webinar, hosted by Joel, now available on demand.
  • Plus, download our latest ebook by Daniel Anderson: “Elevate your total employee experience with The Flow of Work”.
  • Join Daniel Anderson in his latest webinar The flow of work: how to improve the employee experience. Register now!


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