Using SharePoint Automation to Streamline Employee Onboarding

06/01/2018 by Vanick Digital

Striding into the office on Monday morning, coffee in hand, you are ready to take on the new week. A few new employees are joining the company, as your company is ramping up to meet an important deadline for a big client. It’s a beautiful day and all is right with the world. Then you open your email. This is what greets you:


  • One new employee’s start date is delayed because Payroll did not get paperwork in time.
  • An HR employee cannot locate important information about another new employee and they will not have a computer in time to start working promptly.
  • And the third new employee? He can’t find his Day One forms anywhere.


Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Onboarding new employees is a complicated process that involves gathering data, sharing data, and storing data. In today’s business world, overflowing inboxes, inconsistent paper trails, and the inevitable manual business process failures wreak havoc as companies attempt to onboard new employees efficiently.


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All can be a thing of the past with innovative use of SharePoint for automation of common business processes, including employee onboarding. If your company leverages any version of SharePoint (on-prem or online), the solutions to employee onboarding system issues (and many more business problems!) are at your fingertips.


What Can SharePoint Do for My Company?

SharePoint is used in businesses large and small to enable collaboration and communication, as well as solve business problems of all sizes. Whether your company relies on a SharePoint Intranet or SharePoint collaboration sites; a large, well-developed (or completely chaotic) instance or a small, bare-bones instance; SharePoint Online or SharePoint On-Prem (yes, any version!!), innovative leaders should leverage SharePoint to automate business processes.

Take the employee onboarding business process, for example. While onboarding policies and procedures vary widely across companies, they are generally a pain point to human resources leaders, managers, and employees alike. However, consider the following SharePoint solutions for automating this critical business process.


Employee Onboarding and SharePoint Automation

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When a new employee is hired, there is certain amount of standard data that must be gathered from the employee, manager, and human resources staff. If this information is gathered on paper forms, distributed via email, and stored in file shares and file cabinets, the possible points of failure are numerous. SharePoint automation minimizes the opportunity for error.

Using custom SharePoint lists to gather onboarding information allows you the flexibility of developing onboarding processes as your company leaders see fit to meet specific business needs. SharePoint list forms can be customized to integrate into your business process and save real-time work hours for employees. SharePoint on-prem and online developers often use client-side coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) solutions to customize out of the box list forms and increase usability of the forms and complexity of the process. However, there is a new kid on the block that is getting a lot of attention from business users and developers alike.

PowerApps is the latest and greatest offering from Microsoft (well, one of them…). This platform puts the power of intuitive, interactive apps and custom forms in the hands of users and is a flexible tool in the technology toolbox. New features and functions of PowerApps roll out frequently and there are endless options that can be leveraged to customize user interfaces and functionality.

Before, during and after the data collection process, information routing to the right people at the right point in the process is vital to ensure a smooth onboarding process. Often this is done via long email strings that get lost in overflowing inboxes or phone calls that don’t get returned. This manual routing process is a big pain point for many employers and often delays onboarding efforts. Luckily, SharePoint also provides a number of options to solve this business problem.

SharePoint has a robust workflow platform that integrates with lists and libraries in nearly every way you can imagine. For example, a new employee submits the initial demographic information requested via your Onboarding PowerApp. As soon as that data is submitted, the human resources team is alerted via email (or text!) that the first step in the Onboarding process is complete. And better yet, instead of that human resources team having to go to their email and send another set of documents to the new employee, workflow can take care of that for them. In each step through the process, with a little human interaction as necessary, SharePoint workflow will automate your onboarding business process and remove those manual steps from the equation.

In addition, Microsoft offers Flow, which is the next version of SharePoint workflow and is generating a great deal of excitement. Flow is similar to PowerApps in that new features and functions roll out frequently to SharePoint Online tenants. With Flow, the possibilities for automating business processes with SharePoint are elevated. Flow provides seamless connectors to other platforms (think OneDrive, Docusign,, etc.) that can be configured to share data between systems and drive business processes. Needless to say, Flow is a game-changer in the realm of business automation.

Another vital component of employee onboarding is use and storage of collected data. Paper forms or manually populated Excel spreadsheets are standard in many companies, and while these are timeless solutions, they are also time-intensive and manual and provide many opportunities for human error (and overwhelming filing rooms). However, SharePoint provides options to solve for this as well.

Data storage in SharePoint is a given, as this is the original purpose of SharePoint from the very beginning. SharePoint lists hold limitless records and document libraries are only limited by the amount of site storage available, which can be managed in a variety of ways so is rarely a concern, especially with SharePoint Online. However, once data is securely stored in a SharePoint site, what do you do with it?

Enter SharePoint and Power BI. Reporting on data is a hot topic these days and Microsoft is not about to miss out. SharePoint lists serve as a data source for Power BI quite easily. Lists can be aggregated as data sources and skilled Power BI users create reports and dashboards that are updated real-time and easily consumed by onboarding process stakeholders. A few clicks and your data is available for Power BI greatness!

As you can see, a complicated manual business process such as employee onboarding can be streamlined and simplified, end to end, by leveraging a custom SharePoint solution. SharePoint is an amazing tool for end users, but sometimes you need a SharePoint expert to realize it’s full capabilities, help avoid common pitfalls that cause chaos, and ensure best practices are followed. One of the things SharePoint does best is take manual business processes, such as employee onboarding, and automate them, removing opportunities for error and delay and increasing productivity and effectiveness. A SharePoint expert can help you solve these business problems in a timely, efficient manner. Now, get busy imagining the possibilities!


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Vanick Digital