Automated Document IMS with Office365
In this article we look at some key components of a successful IMS with Office365. We look at expanding a traditional document repository by adding approval processes and automatic notifications to key teams of users of the documents.
What is IMS?
Information Management System (IMS) is a general term for software designed to facilitate the storage, organisation and retrieval of information.
Why use an IMS?
A well structured IMS will allow your organisation to safely store documents in a centralised location. This makes it easy for employees to gain access to the documents they need and mitigates the risk of duplicated documents that are stored in multiple locations.
A well configured IMS would help an organisation obtain an ISO accreditation. We will be publishing a follow up article on what is required to obtain an ISO accreditation and how Office365 can help you achieve this.
IMS with Office365
Organisations that are considering building a cloud-based storage and IMS system often choose Office365 as the platform to create their information management system.
This is because having a IMS with Office365 has a range of products such as SharePoint, Flow and Teams that combined create a very powerful information management system to provide automation with Office365.
Below we will look at each component of this system and how including the product functionalities can benefit your organisations IMS.
SharePoint Online is a cloud-based product that is part of the Office365 suite. SharePoint helps organisations collaborate and shared information internally with colleagues as well as externally with partners, suppliers and customers. With SharePoint Online, you can access documents, and other information not just from the office, but securely anywhere around the world.
SharePoint provides the perfect platform to store your IMS documents and allows you to tag the documents with additional information allowing users to easily determine:
- Who is the Owner/Responsible for the document?
- When should the document next be reviewed to ensure it is still relevant?
- What Document Type is it?
- What Data Category is the document? (document may contain public, sensitive or classified information)
- What version number is the document?
It is possible with SharePoint to view an audit trial of who has made changes to a document. You can then view old versions of your documents and even restore documents back from a previous date.
See an example below of a single document audit that is showing the version number increment as changes are made. It also shows the date the changes have been made, any properties that have been changed and who by:
Having your documents stored in SharePoint is a great start to building your IMS with Office365. However, up to this stage in the scenario our documents are just statically stored within a central repository in SharePoint, but no automatic actions will occur. This is where Flow’s functionality comes in to provide automation with Office365.
Flow allows organisations to automate business processes by building automated workflows based on certain triggers and actions. This could be when a document is added into a SharePoint library, when a document is modified and many other types of triggers.
In this scenario we will use a scheduled trigger which will trigger our flow every day.It will then get all the documents within our IMS library and determine if the document is passed its review date.
If it is passed its review date, we will start an approval process to the assigned “Document Owner”.
Once they have approved the latest version of the document we will notify the rest of our team by posting a message with a link to the latest version of the document into are departments “Teams” channel.
Below is an example screenshot of how Flow can be configured for this IMS with Office365 scenario:
Microsoft Teams is a great new product from Office365. It brings together people, conversations and content from your team in a single location. It is a client application you install to your computer that allows for instant messaging and document coloration without needing to go through a browser to Office365.
In our IMS with Office365 scenario once, the document is approved we can then notify are team that a new version of the document has been published and they should go look. To do this we are going to post an automated message into our Teams channel as a final step of automation with Office365.
Our team has now been notified of the latest publication and can discuss it within their Team.