#Microsoft365 #Office365 As part of a mini series for #CitizenDevelopers I’ll be sharing tips and tricks around Business Analysis, Project and Change Management. Today we’ll take a look at documenting your solutions. Yes. It’s painful, I know. But I do believe there’s easier ways to doing things and I’ll share my shortcuts and templates with you.

For previous posts in my #Microsoft365Challenge go to the index page.

DISCLAIMER:  I WRITE ARTICLES ABOUT OFFICE / MICROSOFT 365. CONTENT IS ACCURATE AT TIME OF PUBLICATION, HOWEVER UPDATES AND NEW ADDITIONS HAPPEN DAILY WHICH COULD CHANGE THE ACCURACY OR RELEVANCE. PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND WHEN USING MY BLOGS AS GUIDELINES.

Recap:  The purpose of this blog is to help you become a better solution builder. As mentioned, you might have the technical skill – but I want you to rock at building great solutions. And to do so, there’s some other skills you require as well. Like Business Analysis, Project Management, Communication, Problem Solving & Creativity. I’ll be basing this on the 8 Digital Literacy Pillars that I support through training, and you’ll see that Business Analysis is supported by all 8 of the pillars, so you need to apply all those skills in your business analysis.


Successful Mindset:

One thing I’ve learnt is that to become big, you need to think big. That goes for your actions as well.

What does this have to do with documentation?

Example:

You’ve built an app that monitors your Outlook and takes attachments from specific email address and saves it in a specified OneDrive or SharePoint folder. Rockstar!! That’s you winning at life and saving yourself a lot of time.

Why on earth would you need to document this? It’s just for you, and it’s a small simple solution.

Next up you’ll be helping other people do this, maybe try your hand on building a simple workflow for document revisions and approvals for the Quality department. Believe it or not, in a couple of months, you might try building the On-boarding Solution, or a Leave Application. Because it’s possible, and the technology we have available now allows for us to achieve greatness we never thought possible.

But…

If you don’t change the way you deal with solutions now, you will really struggle to change your ways when you start building bigger solutions that affect the whole company. And why do I say that – because I did that. I didn’t document my solutions, and apart from spending way to much time in maintenance mode (because I didn’t ask the right questions) I also didn’t see my own value – as I had no ‘record’ of my achievements.

Project Documentation:

Don’t feel alone, I even get stomach ache when looking at the “suggested” documentation for projects:

  • Business Case
  • Statement of Work
  • Project Charter
  • Project Plan
  • Action Log
  • Risk Register
  • Status Reports
  • Budget
  • Lesson Learned

Of course these are important when running projects that cost millions. Right now I’m focusing on those ‘every day solutions’ that are being built with Microsoft / Office 365.

Documentation is a way of understanding and clearly stating what it is the person wants. It’s a reminder to ask the right questions and be aware of the risks or complications. Here’s another example:

You’re standing in the kitchen, making coffee. Mary from HR walks past and asks you to build her a library on SharePoint for performance appraisals. Yup – it can be done in 30 seconds. All you need is a name right? Wrong.

You send Mary the URL – then the questions and the emails start. Views, Filters, Metadata etc. Maybe you’ve given the whole HR permissions instead of a specific group and now there’s chaos. You know Mary said everyone must have access, or did she? But now you’re in trouble and you can’t prove what she said.

So I would tell Mary that of course I’ll help, can she please send a mail stating Name, purpose, permissions blah blah blah. That’s a form of documentation by the way – a nice way to cover your ASSets.

Over the last couple of years I’ve developed an Excel spreadsheet that I use to document the ‘requirements’. It reminds me of questions to ask, and also helps people understand how SharePoint fits together. I’m using SharePoint as an example, but this applies to any solutions.

This Spreadsheet also serves as my “functional / technical specification”, I can always reuse it and go back to it if there’s queries.

Solutions Requirements Spec Sheet

This is more focused on SharePoint, but of course you can modify this to suit the apps you are building. Plan your columns and configuration, remember the questions to ask about the solution and be reminded of all the configuration types on columns:

 

Here you’ll find the document from my OneDrive.

I also believe in a register for all the solutions I build. If your users start doing this from day one, you’ll end up with a list of all the solutions, they’ll also have a list to go back to and understand the value they’ve added. It’s also a great way to see what other people are building for reusability.

Solutions Registers

Here you’ll find a simple form (custom list) that can be built. This should be modified to suit your business and of course all the new apps and services can be added from Office 365 to make it current. When adding a new solution on the register, I then attach the above spreadsheet to the item which serves as my Technical / Functional Spec.

On the form you’ll notice ROI. It’s very important to teach users the importance of determining ROI on their solutions. Again this helps with them to realize the value they add, but it also helps the company to determine ROI on their investment, which is then not just based on consumption.

I use a simple ROI calculator with Average Salaries, the only calculation I work on is number of people and minutes saved.

ROI Calculator

Only fill in the green areas, but remember to update the average salaries to reflect your industry / country. You can find the spreadsheet here.

Feedback

As I come from a compliance background, follow up is very important to me. I check in with the people after a couple of weeks, asking if they’re still using it, do they need changes etc. I will also update the ROI then should more people be using it.

This is why you’ll see an updated ROI column on the Solutions Register.

 

Conclusion

It’s never too late to develop a good habit. Start using it and if you have time, go back and add your other solutions. If not, it’s not the end of the world.

This is a great process to add into your governance plan for the company.

Hope this helps!


Purpose of this blog challenge:  I will write 365 blogs in 365 days around Microsoft 365. I did a similar challenge with Office 365, blogs can be found here. I won’t just be talking about the new Microsoft 365 subscription model. I will be sharing any news, tips and tricks around Office / Office 365 / Windows / Mobility and Security. And let’s not forget all the great new Apps & services available.  A lot of what I’ll share on Office and SharePoint will also be applicable to none “Office 365” versions.

You can also find me contributing to REgarding 365. I’m a member of a group of enthusiasts, sharing their stories, thoughts and opinions about Microsoft 365. Catch us at https://regarding365.com | @regarding365 on Twitter and regarding365 on YouTube 


Want to work with me? You’re welcome to CONTACT ME:

(If it’s related to a specific blog, rather comment on the actual blog please – do not send an email)

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