Onboarding can be a complex process to manage for Human Resources departments, particularly in larger organizations. As organizations grow, the responsibilities of HR departments become increasingly difficult to manage. Strict procedures have to be followed to meet government, legal, and regulatory requirements.
Fortunately, a communication and collaboration platform such as Microsoft SharePoint can provide an efficient way for companies to manage onboarding events. Automating processes with such a tool ensures that proper protocols are followed and that all tasks are completed in a coordinated manner.
Onboarding — a Multi-step Process
In any organization, there are a multitude of steps involved in integrating new employees into an existing infrastructure, such as:
- Creating and assigning access rights to company assets, both physical and digital;
- Procuring hardware and software for the new employee;
- Completing legal requirements, such as NDAs, compliance agreements, employee contracts, securing right to work, etc.;
- Planning and creating knowledge sharing requirements, such as training and skills assessment;
- Integrating the new employee into the company culture, which typically involves significant scheduling and time commitments.
The above items are just starting points — employees often change jobs during their time at the company (what we call “midboarding”) and of course, there are the inevitable “offboardings” (terminations), both of which have defined procedures to follow. The many tasks involved requires coordination and communication between multiple departments.
Communication is Key
A common practice is for companies to use emails and spreadsheets to manage onboarding. This might work for very small companies, but it is not feasible once a company starts to expand. Juggling e-mails (which can get lost or buried in conversation threads) or relying on one person jockeying a spreadsheet to track who did what when and what else needs to be done (which requires a constant effort to update input and coordinate communications) are not effective ways to handle complex onboarding scenarios.
Efficiency is best realized when an underlying communication-oriented system, such as SharePoint, is used as a base platform. The general approach should be to replace older communication mediums, such as e-mails and spreadsheets, with tools that are trackable, measurable, configurable, and share-able. The use of tickets in a SharePoint environment is particularly well-suited to this challenge. Tickets, whether used to request services/assets or simply to convey information, enable management to gain control of the communication process while fostering visibility to all relevant parties across the enterprise.
SharePoint or Office 365 as Single Onboarding Platform
A single platform to handle both content management and communications can empower organizations to take control of how their departments can effectively communicate and share information with each other. In terms of onboarding and offboarding, SharePoint has the capacity to:
- Track and record steps taken during the new hire or termination processes;
- Allow HR departments to automate the onboarding process — a necessity as enterprises grow and requirements scale upwards;
- Enable employees to access required company content while ramping-up (e.g., company processes, policy guides, and legal documents);
- Facilitate collaboration by enabling new employees to easily communicate with their colleagues;
- Negate the risk of erecting communication barriers by allowing all employees to work in a centralized communication-oriented environment.
Perhaps a small company that onboards a new employee every once in a while (say, once a quarter) could get by with a spreadsheet or document outlining the required steps. But onboarding employees on more regular basis demands automated features. An organization’s growth is reliant on discarding manual processes and replacing them with automated functionality. The onboarding/offboarding communication process—in terms of automation—revolves around three basic steps:
- Submitting an initial request;
- Routing the request to a recipient;
- Tracking the request for reporting purposes.
SharePoint can be used to increase staff productivity and remove repetitive tasks by automating the above processes. Ticket requests can be used to ensure that new employees receive the hardware & software they need, are provided with relevant knowledge access, and are granted user rights and physical access to required assets. For employees leaving the company, automated processes can make sure all rights are retracted, company equipment is returned, and all final paperwork is properly filled out. In SharePoint, all of these requests can be tracked, archived, configured, and reported on for analysis.
The key here is that these steps are done without significant manual input — the entire process should be automated with little to no prompting from the HR department. In support of these steps, the automatic creation of notifications and alerts, embedded workflows, and reporting tools enable all involved parties to stay in-the-loop and also help senior management to remain aware of HR activities.
Flexibility and Accessibility
Every organization’s needs are different; a SharePoint implementation needs to allow comprehensive configuration and personalization options. Important questions that HR Managers should consider include:
- Can tickets be customized to reflect required fields? Custom fields?
- Is the automation process configurable to support delivery and routing of tickets to specific users and groups?
- Are notifications and alerts configurable in terms of triggers and look and feel?
- How robust is the reporting capability? Are built-in reports available? Can new customized reports be created?
Another questions is if the onboarding/offboarding processes could be enhanced with mobile access; people performing onboarding tasks, such as setting up a workstation, could be using tablets or other mobile devices. Some organizations will want to take advantage of the mobility options in SharePoint and Office 365 to improve onboard/offboard activities.
SharePoint and Office 365 – Powerful Platforms for HR Tasks
SharePoint and Office 365 are powerful platforms that enable organizations to implement a centralized system of communications, collaboration, and activity reporting. The onboarding process is particularly well-suited to the SharePoint environment because the level of complexity involved integrates well with the multi-function capabilities of SharePoint and also Office 365.
The centralization of the onboarding/offboarding processes increases the productivity of HR departments and also enables management to more effectively analyze aspects of the process (e.g., time taken to fully onboard new employees, cost analysis over time, and so on). Relying on de-centralized old-school techniques not only costs organizations time and money, they also pose the risk of erecting damaging communication barriers between your HR department, your new employees, and their future colleagues.
Crow Canyon Systems has 18 years of experience assisting organizations in leveraging their existing infrastructure, rather than requiring new hardware & technologies. We specialize in building upon your collaboration platforms, such as SharePoint and Office 365, in order to give your Help Desk and Support Staff the tools they need to provide assistance without the need for additional infrastructure.
Want to learn more about how our solutions can transform your SharePoint experience? Give us a call at 1-925-478-3110 or contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org