Synopsis of the requirements:
Building upon their adoption of Microsoft 365, Kone UK Finance wanted to remove their reliance on a shared Excel spreadsheet credit control solution. The current solution posed management and review difficulties due largely to the highly collaborative nature of the workflow driving issues with co-authoring and change management in Excel. OfficeLabs suggested an extensible and flexible Credit Control platform built with Microsoft PowerApps and SharePoint list storage to allow a multi-platform, integrated solution while taking advantage of Microsoft 365 security and integration. The proposal was accepted, and the scope of the project included:
- To support Kone’s current billing and debt collection processes a new credit control platform was needed to be built for use by Kone UK finance. The system would allow initial submission of debt disputes by the credit control team and review by regional approvers and billing teams.
- The platform would primarily support desktop PC devices; however, tablet and mobile useability would be made available.
- The platform would provide secure storage and interaction with credit control and billing data, with integrated Microsoft 365 security.
- Automation of workflow would be implemented where possible to ensure that the required users are notified of new or actionable items, aiding in the timely handling and resolution of issues.
Following a number of discovery sessions with KONE stakeholders, OfficeLabs produced a series of recommendations in a statement of work and project plan. The project was broken down into the following deliverables.
Leveraging the Microsoft 365 platform, OfficeLabs delivered an intuitive, integrated, and secure credit control platform using out-of-the-box applications included with Kone’s existing Microsoft 365 licensing, reducing implementation time and development cost. The platform consisted of the following key elements:
- SharePoint (UK Finance Credit Control site) – SharePoint is Microsoft’s enterprise intranet, document management, and shared data services platform. Using native permission management which integrates seamlessly with Groups and Teams, sites can be created to store data for specific business needs. OfficeLabs created a ‘UK Finance Credit Control’ SharePoint Team site with associated Microsoft Team to act as data repository for credit control data and allow collaboration and interaction amongst the core credit control team, regional approver, and billing representatives.
- Microsoft 365 Groups – Groups were created for the 6 primary region groups to provide a shared mailbox and audience group for targeted email notification as part of the workflow. Utilising Groups provided future opportunity for more granular item permission management and item visibility.
- SharePoint (‘Credit Control’ List) – SharePoint lists reside within permission-controlled SharePoint sites, are version controlled, readily available, allow document attachments, and serve as the perfect cloud data storage repository for line of business applications. OfficeLabs configured a centralised SharePoint list to store the field values required for credit control submissions and management.
- PowerApps (‘UK Finance Credit Control’ Application) – PowerApps is a fully featured platform which allows for the creation of reactive, custom themed applications for mobile and desktop devices. Using PowerApps enforces interaction with data in an application context ensuring data security while enabling the developer to configure tabular form formats, specify required fields, auto-population of fields, and enabling conditional formatting. OfficeLabs developed the following major application elements:
- New and Edit form screen – Linking to the central SharePoint list, this form provides the ability to log; initial submission details, approval review, completion details, and supporting document attachments. This form was created in a tabbed layout, with auto population of submitter details and submission dates, automatic value calculation, and enforcement of required fields.
- Item Search screen – Consisting of a ‘gallery’, this screen allows the users to search through items, filtering by key details such as status contract type, or approval status for example. This screen also provides the ability to edit the details of the item by navigating to the Edit form. Quick approval elements were implemented to streamline approval processing.
- Power Automate – Microsoft Power Automate provides a platform for workflow automation. With connectors to each of the Microsoft 365 applications, complex and customised workflows can be created to meet many diverse requirements. OfficeLabs configured the following automated approval workflow.
- New item notification – Configured to notify a specified regional group of via email of key item details, and prompt for approval review.
- Approval workflow – Configured as a multi-stage, conditional flow, this workflow handled the approval/rejection of items, and the desired outcomes of each approval status. This on a high level included requests to submitter for more information or negotiation, director approval requests, secondary approval, and billing team notification.
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