Working with Documents in 2021

April 7, 2021

We’ve all been asked by our kids ‘what do you do at work?’  As a ‘knowledge worker,’ I produce a lot of documents. I’m aware that doesn’t sound as cool as I’d like - perhaps I could try to make that sound better by turning it into an action adventure story… 

So, I’m sitting in front of my computer and I get a Teams message that our proposal has been selected for a big project! This is great news and I immediately know what to do - produce a contract for signature! 

I click on the SharePoint tab in my browser and quickly search ‘contract template.' In mere seconds I’m able to choose the contract type I want from the search results and I’m off to the races. 

Of course, the template is a Word document, pre-filled with our latest terms and conditions, so I don’t need to mess around with the legal boiler plate stuff. I enter most of the details, but realize I’m missing some important elements.  Because I don’t want anyone else to see this contract yet, I save it to my OneDrive for Business folder and don’t share it out. 

After a couple calls, I’ve got all the details I’m responsible for.  I complete my sections of the contract, and proofread it once before sharing it with our operations team. I smile with confidence. My section is pristine. 

I move the document from my OneDrive folder into Teams so our operations people can add and review content.  The team is busy, so I @mention a few individuals by name in the Contracts channel in Teams. I also directly link them to the document.   

It’s so cool to watch everyone work on the document at the same time.  Co-authoring capabilities keep each person ‘out’ of the other’s work area but enables multiple people to change things concurrently.  Though I don’t add much content during this stage, I follow people’s comments and edits, and weigh in wherever I think I can move the process along. 

Finally, the team @mentions me in the channel chat and lets me know their content is complete and it’s “ready for signature”… (I’ll be the judge of that!).   

I review the document and realize an earlier version of a particular paragraph was removed.  I jump into the document’s version history and select an earlier version.  I cut and paste the desired section back into the current version and hit save one more time.  Now it’s ready for signature… (actually, our Executive will be the judge of that!)

We only have two layers of review – a technical and legal/financial review.  The technical review is first.  I leverage a document approval workflow built in PowerAutomate by clicking the ellipses by the document’s name in Teams and selecting ‘Contract Approval’. 

An alert is sent to the technical approver with a link to the document, along with any comments I have provided.  Fortunately, the document is approved, which continues on its journey to the legal/financial approval step.  I’ll admit, sometimes the documents are rejected back to me for edits - but not often! 

Some of my favorite messages to receive begin with “Your document has been approved!”  This tells me we’re ready for signature! 

A PDF is emailed to our new client and the document is immediately signed without being marked up.  Okay, okay, but it could happen… 

A PDF is emailed to our new client and the document is returned with several helpful ways our contact can be ‘better.’  This begins a collaboration process among our Executives within their Teams site.  A series of marked up documents transfer back and forth a few times, but eventually, the document is ready to be signed. 

Our company’s e-signature tool handles formalities and ensures each party receives a signed copy. 

We place our signed contract into SharePoint, where all our corporate records live.  We ensure the document is in read-only format to prevent alteration and we inventory the contract with meta-data such as expiry dates and other key terms. This enables us to set expiry notifications on documents, as well as feed our PowerBI reports. 

It’s pretty amazing actually – the coordination of ideas, agreements, technologies and people – all combined to deliver a signed contract.  I wonder if my kids would think so too… 

Interested in transforming the way you work? 
AMTRA can help make. Give us a call to learn all about guidelines and best practices for when to use SharePoint vs OneDrive vs Teams. 

If you'd like to learn more about SharePoint, and the Importance of a Tidy House, read our blog.


Tags: Microsoft 365 end-user productivity OneDrive sharepoint document storage governance

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