Business Solutions Using SharePoint Lists

The Premise: “Start small, think big, move fast.”

You may not need a robust line of business applications. SharePoint Lists allow you to iterate quickly, fail fast, and provide value with minimal effort.

The Power of Lists - some core capabilities

SharePoint is already a familiar technology to the organization. Building new capabilities where we are already working reduces the challenges with change management and tool abundance.

Many users will use Excel because they are familiar with the application, and then they create it into what they call a “database.” Excel is not necessarily the tool for this use case. However, SharePoint Lists have a lot more to offer with capabilities such as special permissions, filtered views, ability to integrate with Power Automate, etc. For example, users can enable permissions that allow someone to edit only their own items they created which creates more control over the environment. It is not possible to refine permissions in this way in Excel.

SharePoint Lists are a database-like table allowing users to utilize all the basic features that a database holds. If your data is flat and rectangular, lists work well. However, with the 5000-item list limit, it’s important to have good filtering, viewing, and indexing.

Maturity Model for Microsoft 365 provides benchmarks to measure your organization

The Maturity Model for Microsoft 365 provides a framework to help organizations identify where they are and where they want to go. Sympraxis decided for our CRM solution we did not need to be aiming for a level 500. Just managing things well, like at level 200, was a great first step to support the growing company. At this level it did not make sense for us to purchase an application like Salesforce which supports greater complexity we do not have.

It is important to know when to move on past the solution you built in SharePoint because your level of maturity has exceeded SharePoint List’s capabilities. Failing fast, being nimble, and being aware of the changing user stories will help you identify what you need to get where you are going.

Solution Framework

Before beginning the build with your SharePoint Lists, it’s important to generate user needs statements. These statements are actionable problem statements talking about who the user is, what they need to do, and why they need to do it. These user needs statements most often become the organization’s feature list and can also serve as the questions for task-based testing later.

When generating user needs statements, it’s important to think about varying audiences. You should consider not only the people interacting with the list, but the people maintaining the list as well.

After figuring out the users’ needs and goals, it’s helpful to align them all to your company goals. Not only does this show how Microsoft 365 supports your company’s goals in the organization, and how important it is as a platform, but it can also help prioritize projects across departments.

Example Solution: The Sympraxis CRM(-ish) Story

In our organization, we knew we needed to up level our capability around managing and marketing, as well as client opportunities. We picked some processes like setting up new projects, following up with clients, and understanding prospective utilization for all of us to make sure we have exactly the right amount of work.

With SharePoint Lists, we enabled different extensions like Power Automate for email reminders and analytics to track resource availability.


Maturity Model for Microsoft 365 (MM4M365):

Do you have any questions for us? Continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSympraxis and mention @SympraxisC.