Tips From Townsend: Implementing Three State Workflow in CRM

I’d like to tell you about how SharePoint workflows can add another layer of enhancement to your BPA applications. By using the out of the box Three-state workflow, you can add a simple, automated approval process. Automating the creation and assignment of tasks is vital to reducing administrative tasks and optimizing the use of your employees’ time.

The SharePoint Foundation Three-state workflow, which is completely configurable from the front end of SharePoint, provides you with an easy configuration wizard to get started. As an example, Three-state workflow can contain your corporate documents library (which may house your internal standardized document templates and so forth), and then require approval from your different departments prior to publishing for use throughout the rest of your BPA application.

Let’s say that you have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) document that is required to be included with all quotes sent to customers. This SLA document is a template for your sales staff to modify with customer-centric data prior to dissemination, but updates to the template must go through approval prior to publishing new versions. This is where the Three-state workflow comes in, to ensure that the appropriate personnel take a look at the revisions to your template and give their sign-off on the changes. SharePoint automatically collects any information/comments they may have on the changes and records the necessary info for auditing activity and historical data for all actions taken during the workflow process.

Settings for the Three-state workflow are fairly straightforward and prompt you for some general information in the first step of configuration. You’ll be prompted to enter:

  1. Name of workflow
  2. Task List that the workflow should use to create associated tasking
  3. History List for workflow historical data tracking
  4. Start Options:
    a. Allow workflow to be manually started
    b. Start the workflow to approve publishing a major version of an item
    c. Start workflow when new items are created/added
    d. Start workflow when an item has been modified

After providing this initial configuration, you’ll establish the details of your workflow. You’ll select three states for your workflow to use, e.g. Pending Approval, Approved, Published. The final configuration settings prompt you to choose what you want to happen when a workflow is initiated and when the workflow reaches its middle state. Details such as:

  1. Task Title
  2. Task Description
  3. Task Due Date
  4. Task Assigned To
  5. Email Messaging Details:
    a. Who to send notification to
    b. Subject of Email
    c. Body Text

Automating the routing of documents, requiring approval of quotes sent to customers, or stepping through the lifecycle of a solution are all great examples of how the simple Three-state workflow engine can provide efficiency and power to your BPA Applications. The potential of your BPA application suite, extended by using many of the great features inherent in Microsoft SharePoint, are limitless.  Use your SharePoint knowledge to build solutions like out-of-the-box workflows and custom designer workflows, and you’ll see that by going with BPA applications you’ve not only acquired a great tool, but also a framework that you can extend to meet your specific needs.

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Why Empathy Matters to Your Bottom Line, and How CRM Can Close the Gap

Why is empathy valued more highly today when it comes to CRM? Here’s a clue from the Temkin Group’s 2014 Experience Ratings report: companies across the board struggle with their customer’s emotional experience.

  • Across 19 industries studied, scores for emotional experience lagged behind the functionality or accessibility customer experience scores.
  • The highest-rated companies have a rate only in the 70% range (“Okay”).
  • Many companies (especially health care, wireless, and Internet providers) rate no higher than the 30%-40% range.

These are alarming stats if you feel that customer experience has a direct impact on the bottom line, whether you are focusing on B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) CRM. Improving customer experience means improving customer retention – which has a much better ROI than expensive efforts to acquire new customers.
But how does a customer’s emotional experience relate to empathy, and how does all this messy emotional stuff affect your CRM anyway?

Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” Empathy is the building block of relationships, and CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management after all. CRM must help build those relationships, with empathy for both customers and front-line employees built in from the ground floor, not stuck in later.

Today we build relationships quickly with the use of technology, especially mobile technology. Forrester Research’s Top Trends of CRM in 2014 notes that “The Mobile Mind Shift Will Force CRM To Evolve Quickly.” It goes on to say that implementing mobile solutions “requires navigating a complex set of technology, process, and people decisions.”

In that list, the people decisions have to come first. Your CRM solution must allow you to use your technology as tools to build your relationships. This means thinking about people’s experiences and emotions early on in the process of adopting a CRM strategy and technology. Your CRM should be the structure with which you develop important relationships.

BPA is a leader in providing tools that mean better relationships, better collaboration and more effective CRM. BPA mobile solutions offer flexibility, convenience, and ease of use so you can focus on the important thing: building relationships.

BPA Solutions Nominated for Best SharePoint App in the 2014 European SharePoint Community Awards

BPA Solutions is in exclusive company. The prestigious 2014 European SharePoint Community Awards have nominated BPA CRM 365 for Best SharePoint App of 2014. We take pride in seeing our hard work recognized by the European SharePoint Community: top Microsoft SharePoint business decision makers, thought leaders, IT professionals, developers, and end users. Award winners will be announced at the European SharePoint Community Awards Evening on May 7 in Barcelona, Spain.

Other finalists for best SharePoint App include Dell Software, ELEARNINGFORCE, OneBit Software, PDF ShareForms, and K2. It’s an honor to be part of this elite group of providers.

BPA CRM 365 is the Office 365 version of BPA’s award-winning SharePoint CRM solution. It’s a tool that both empowers your front line workers and helps them be more productive. The BPA CRM 365 Lite solution lets you track contacts and your team’s daily interactions and activities. The solution also includes help desk ticket tracking, marketing campaign management, and project management capabilities.
Best SharePoint App in the 2014

Why vote for BPA Solutions?

Find out more by reading our ebook about BPA CRM 365 Lite. We set some big expectations from the start: we wanted the same features as our on-premise solution with the Office 365 version, plus we wanted to have as much of the same code for both the on-premise and cloud deployments as possible. As part of the process, BPA became a part of Microsoft’s PAB and Office 15 SDR programs. Our nomination for Best SharePoint app shows that we’ve met the high standards we set for ourselves.

If you haven’t experienced our CRM solution, try out the app for yourself. Download BPA CRM 365 Lite for free at the Microsoft App Store.
Voting closes April 15, so vote now for your favorite, and let your voice be heard.