SNTT- Who needs voting buttons?

Thursday 11th May, 2006
We took on a new Project Office Administrator a few weeks ago to get us all a bit organised and into line with recent legislative changes.

Our new staff member had never used Notes before and had come from an Outlook background giving him a small learning curve but also a slight problem.

In his previous positions, his simple solution to approvals was to get a shared "Project Office" mailbox created. From there, he would send out emails containing documents for approval and add Outlook/Exchange Voting Buttons for approve/decline.

But he couldn't do this in Notes and logged a call with the Helpdesk to ask how.

At this point with Notes you have 2 choices. One..."Sorry mate, Notes doesn't do that" or the alternative "let's have a quick meeting to discuss your requirement and see if there might be a better solution". I opted for the latter.

After a short 10minute meeting I detailed the full requirement and how it worked in the last place. I then scheduled another meeting to start just ONE HOUR later to show him how I would do it using Lotus Notes.

Just  30 minutes later I gave him a quick call to say that his prototype was ready. No mailbox, no emails containing buttons, something completely different, something he'd never seen before. A full, self contained, workflow/approval application.

One click allowed him to raise an approval request. To this he can  attach all the documents required for review. He can add a list of approvers and the date by which the approval needs to be completed. One copy of this approval document will be kept centrally and no access given to anyone who wasn't authorised. Another click and he can send the document for approval.

Categorised views in the application show him every document in the system, what it's current status is and who it's waiting for. Documents that are approved clearly state, in a read-only format, who approved them and exactly when this took place. If an approval has been waiting at any stage, emails can be sent to the project approvers as a reminder to complete that approval. This doesn't require digging through sent mail, no resending of the message, just an automatic agent that emails a reminder message after 7days and includes a link to the original document.

One central repository, that can replicate offline to a laptop. One copy of each approval document on the server. All projects on one system, but project teams can only see the documents relating to the projects on which they are working.

Remember, all this took 30 MINUTES to knock up...from blank page to production roll-out.

Repeat after me...who needs voting buttons?

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