If you ask the average user about SharePoint, they often think of it as just a document repository. While they may be familiar with basic SharePoint features, they generally do not perceive it as a flexible and powerful tool for collaboration. SharePoint Line of Business (LOB) applications can be a powerful tool, not only for automating and simplifying many vital business processes that require collaboration and workflow, but for driving SharePoint adoption among business users. One specific area of opportunity is the Product Development Lifecycle (PDLC).
The Product Development Lifecycle often involves coordinating between many different departments, across several phases. It can require input and expertise from teams as diverse as Marketing, Finance, R&D and Facilities. And a lot of emails with spreadsheets typically attached. Let’s take a closer look at an example of how an intelligent LOB application can expedite launching a new product or service, while increasing transparency and accuracy throughout the process.
As a new product or service winds its way through the development process, it can be a painfully slow, manual cycle – best case scenario, an Excel spreadsheet is circulated ad infinitum; worst case scenario, employees spend significant amounts of time going back and forth to make sure the information provided is right across departments. With a smart LOB application, these functions can be automated. What might that look like? Let’s say that new product requires Marketing and Finance approval – but these approvals can be simultaneous. However, finance approval is contingent on detailed cost information gathered from the Supply Chain team – and the data analyst who tracks that information is on vacation for two weeks. And only after Marketing and Finance have both weighed in can the product advance to R&D and Facilities for evaluation.
Imagine instead an automated, task-based process. As a new product enters the Product Development Lifecycle, tasks are automatically created and routed to the right person on the right team at the right time. A well-thought out Line of Business application makes it easy to shepherd the process along, and the end result is seamless, efficient product development. Think of the many inefficiencies that arise in product lifecycle management: emails sitting in inboxes with no visibility, missing or inaccurate information, an endless cycle of following-up and pinging and reminding…. Automating the process with an LOB application can save time and significantly improve speed to market. We have seen organizations realize significant gains, such as 50% decrease in time-to-approvals, or delivering a new product to market thirty days faster. By leveraging SharePoint’s powerful collaborative workflow capabilities, organizations can create robust, collaborative Line of Business applications that help streamline internal inefficiencies and decrease time to market.