Using SharePoint Online to Manage your Business: SharePoint Lists
One of the most powerful things about SharePoint is how it can help people to collaborate. We talk a lot about co-authoring documents and sharing links so that people can work on the same document, but SharePoint Lists are a massively powerful – but simple – way to get your team organised.
Something that we look for when we work with clients is Excel spreadsheets being used to gather information and track statuses. While Excel is great for constructing lists of ‘stuff’, as soon as you have a list that more than one person needs to update, it starts to become a problem.
OK, you can give different people access to a spreadsheet stored on SharePoint (or OneDrive) and they can all update it – but you’re then at the mercy of them not breaking your carefully designed formulas, and you have no easy way of checking who has updated what and when. It’s difficult to set up different views for different people – you can create reports from a central Excel worksheet, but you have to go back to the original to do any updates, and it all starts to get quite messy quite quickly.
SharePoint Lists are incredibly simple to set up and make it easy to create operational lists for multiple people, even if they all need to see different things. Any edits are stored in the version history, and you can now add conditional formatting to create some really informative reports. For extra analysis, hook them up to PowerBI and you have an enterprise-grade reporting tool at your fingertips.
We use SharePoint Lists extensively at AMT. I’ve listed some examples of what we do to give you the general idea…
Production Time Requests
· Request something to be done by the production team.
· Indicate who (or what team) you would like to do it, how long it will take, and the deadline.
· Request goes to Production Manager for approval.
· On approval, production team member receives notification that they’ve been allocated task.
· Production staff fill in progress, and requestor is informed when the item is completed.
· Requestor indicates this is now closed.
This is all put together with a standard list, a few views and a couple of Power Automate Flows. It’s used daily at AMT and helps us keep a grip on how the team is being pulled off core tasks to ‘just have a quick look at….’
· List of risks, fully categorised to all aspects of our business and fulfilling ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 requirements.
· Includes owner, scores, mitigations.
· Cross references to policies and procedures.
· Also includes Risk Treatment Plan – high scoring risks have actions recorded which are assigned to somebody in the team along with deadlines.
· Actions and progress are recorded by the allocated person until the item is closed, at which point the risk score is reviewed by the owner.
This is all done just using a list with a few views created; there are no workflows added. Having the Risk Register, Risk Treatment Plan and Action Tracker all together makes the whole system easy to manage.
View have been created to pull out Information Security Risks, high scoring risks, overdue actions, and risks overdue for review to make the management of the whole system simple.
For ISO 27001, it’s important that we manage any changes to our business systems – mainly our own Microsoft 365 tenancy and Azure systems. We built a list that allows anybody needing to make a change to submit a quick request. The IS managers are notified in a Teams channel of the request, and can click a button to accept or deny the request. On accepting, the requestor can carry out the task and record when it was done.
This gives us a full audit trail of any changes to our systems, as well as giving us an efficient approval process using a single Power Automate Flow.
Hardware Asset Register
· Name, type, serial number, location, owner of all hardware owned by AMT.
· Fields to record status – procured, in use, awaiting disposal, disposed.
· Audit trail of dates purchased, commissioned, disposed.
· Disposal records.
This is another incredibly useful list that was set up in minutes – no workflows or other cleverness in there, just a number of columns that capture the information that we need and a handful of views that let people quickly go to the information that they need.
Some of the other lists that we have are:
· Hub Intranet implementations
· Project Status
· Improvements and non-conformities
· Quality Audit Schedules
· Client access tracker
· Approved software list
· Software assets
These give the whole team visibility on what’s happening at AMT and gather information together in a simple, organised way – no multiple versions of files flying round, easy to manage security, notifications when things change, quick reporting. If you don’t know what SharePoint Lists are all about, take a look at Get started with Microsoft Lists.