So you want to automate business forms and process?

Recently, we received a request from a client organisation (IT staff on behalf of business department) using SharePoint that they would like to automate an absence form(s) and process, to which I replied, you mean the process of managing absences! Then the client asked, how much will it cost to have this fully automated solution with electronic forms? I asked what is the process of managing absences together with who’s and how’s of the process interactions?

We frequently receive these type of requests to automate business applications and what we find is that there is a gap between desired outcomes and implementation together with  IT departments not aligned with their business. Of course, the time it takes to build applications and costs are the biggest factors that determine the feasibility of embarking on such process automation projects.

According to K2 (Forms and workflow solutions provider) experience, as a rough guidance, a business with 1000 employees may have around 400-500 processes that might be viewed as automation candidates. So you can imagine from asking a simple question on how long it will take? this is rather more dependent upon the following factors:

  • Number of related processes (workflow parameters)
  • Process value (who is involved and how much time, resources are consumed)
  • Process documentation (if not available requirement gathering and analysis becomes essential)
  • Data availability (tapping into existing data or create new data structures)
  • Effort required to design and build forms and reports
  • Reusable components, if using an existing SharePoint third party workflow software (Nintex, K2, etc.)

I hope this post helps you understand and equip you with some points of consideration you need to bear when building an automated business application.

Hope this helps!

Chirag Patel @techChirag

This post first appeared here:

Chirag is an Independent Consultant at Patel Consulting, BCS Chartered IT Professional, TOGAF Certified Architect, Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (Productivity, Data Management and Analytics) and Microsoft Service Adoption specialist based in London, UK with more than 20 years of industry experience. He works with a wide variety of clients in many sectors, designing and implementing business collaboration, data and information management solutions and services based on SharePoint and Office 365 technologies to create business value for both themselves and their customers, including UK Microsoft Gold Partners with deployment, upgrade and migration services delivery. Chirag is an active SharePoint community participant, frequent speaker at local and international events including SharePoint Saturdays (London, Cambridge, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, UK, EMEA, India) and Collab365. In 2011, for his valuable contributions to Microsoft TechNet forums he received a Microsoft Community Contributor Award. In his little spare time he enjoys cycling, cricket and participating in Charity bike rides and Duathlons. You can follow Chirag on Twitter at @techChirag and find him online at

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