Automated SharePoint site provisioning modernizes training

Situation

The healthcare industry requires ongoing education and training to keep employees apprised of new methods, regulations, and company policies. A health insurance provider decided to modernize their training by adding collaboration sites to each class. In their pilot program, they used Microsoft SharePoint Community Sites templates, and then integrated their learning management system (LMS) by manually adding web parts.

Challenge

The pilot program was an overwhelming success, so much so that it ended up causing problems. The manual process didn’t scale to their course volume. Even the site approval process took too long, with site requests languishing in approvers’ inboxes. Before they could roll out their collaboration sites for all their training curricula, they needed to automate their provisioning process, which had to:

  • Integrate with SharePoint, their core platform.
  • Integrate with the training department’s LMS.
  • Automate deletion and content archival for the collaboration sites.
  • Automate approval of site requests.
  • Create sites that non-technical users could easily maintain.
  • Provide reporting capabilities for key metrics like class size and total active learners.

Solution

A Nintex Partner linked two SharePoint lists and a series of workflows to automate their provisioning process, which benefited them in the following ways:

  • The site request list captures all requests for new class collaboration sites.
  • Each request launches an approval process for training department staff and managers. Once approved, a branching workflow automatically creates a collaboration site based on one of two site templates, and adds the learners, facilitators, and other site members to the appropriate permission groups.
  • The workflow adds the new site to the collaboration site list.
  • The collaboration site list provides an easy management portal for class facilitators. They simply select their site, and an item properties page appears, allowing them to manage all key configurations from a single page. They can add new learners and site members, and they can activate, delete, or archive their site.
  • Workflows complete the actions without further human intervention, and narrow down the actions facilitators can take to the few they really need.
  • With a quick glance at the collaboration site list, department staff can see which sites are active.
  • Reporting workflows use the collaboration site list to gather overall key metrics, including total number of learners in the system, total number of active learners, and average number of sites per facilitator.

Benefits

The automated site provisioning and approval process made site maintenance easy for untrained personnel and provided reporting capabilities to help training staff make informed decisions. The training department immediately benefited from:

  • Dramatically reduced labor costs – no more manual configuration and troubleshooting errors.
  • Site creation time reduced from 30-60 minutes to less than one minute.
  • Easier and faster site approval process.
  • Reporting on key metrics that were impossible to gather before.
  • Convenient access to all active sites.
  • Improved security from limiting actions taken by untrained site admins.
  • Reduced training needed to use the system.
  • Efficient use of system resources provided by the automated archival process.

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