A tremendous amount of change is happening in Information Technology right now. As predicted, 2014 has in many ways been the "Year of the Cloud"; here at Pinnacle, it has certainly been the year of Office 365. As of December, we have been involved in or have directed the migration of over 3000 seats of Exchange to Office 365. The range of customers ran from small businesses to Financial Services, from 10 seats to 400+, and locally owned to International operations.
In some circles, 3000 seats of Office 365 would be small potatoes - but to our customers, the decision to move core IT infrastructure to Office 365 was significant. Most of the discussions around Office 365 involved email - but most purchases also included Lync for instant messaging; SharePoint for file sharing and collaboration; and Yammer for community updates.
Customers who have Office 365 are looking at the additional capabilities such as Lync and Yammer to impact their internal communications initiatives. While both Lync and Yammer are fairly easy tools to deploy and navigate, SharePoint is a framework for sharing information. Therefore, SharePoint deployments are much different than the other applications.
Implementing the SharePoint framework requires foundational planning. Fortunately, for those with Office 365 subscriptions, this no longer means purchasing licenses, setting up virtual machines, setting up SQL Server, installing SharePoint, and configuring backups - but it does still mean spending time aligning SharePoint to the organizational structure.
Early adopters often align SharePoint along the same lines they previously structured file shares - which is a pretty good place to start in many cases. Determining which containers to place things in within SharePoint is often about setting up security boundaries, as most organizations have done when setting up their local network file share. Unlike file shares, SharePoint has much more to offer - which often leads to workflow discussions.
Once an organization makes the move to centralized data and information in Office 365 and SharePoint - someone, somewhere, inevitably asks the question: "Can you let me know when this document is updated?" or "Would it be possible to get my approval electronically?" This is the point where organizations begin to grasp the power behind the SharePoint framework and the opportunities to improve business processes through workflow automation.
Out-of-the-box SharePoint offers the ability to setup workflows to send emails and tasks when documents are uploaded or forms finalized via SharePoint designer. Pinnacle is also working with Nintex, an independent software vendor focused on SharePoint workflows with a twist. Nintex for Office 365 is hosted in Azure and integrates with SharePoint Online as a SharePoint hosted application.
SharePoint 2013 hosted applications run alongside SharePoint, rather than inside it. Interaction occurs via SharePoint APIs; setup and results are stored within SharePoint lists. Since Nintex for Office 365 runs in Azure, it has the scalability required to support an infinite number of customers and workflows; which is fortunate for Nintex's 4000 customers spanning 90 countries.
Nintex's process for creating workflows is what differentiates from other vendors. The workflow process generally starts at a whiteboard session and moves on to a graphical drawing tool, such as Visio, that can illustrate the decision points and branches involved in the workflow. SharePoint Designer even has an integration with Visio that helps in just that way. Nintex takes the process one step further, by providing additional workflow actions and logic capabilities in addition to its graphical interface for designing workflows - a feature not available with out-of-the-box SharePoint Designer workflows.
The combination of graphical-based workflows and advanced workflow capabilities allow Nintex Workflows to interact with SharePoint and other systems in truly complex ways. Nintex for Office 365 also includes Nintex Forms - providing one of the only alternatives to the retired Infopath Forms.
Pinnacle, An Advanced Imaging Solutions Company leverages Nintex's SharePoint features to create customized intranets for clients who need more than just file storage capabilities. Nintex Workflow paired with Nintex Forms for Office 365 can be a huge benefit for organizations that want their intranet portals to foster employee collaboration and improve productivity. Contact a Pinnacle representative today to discuss your workflow and productivity needs!