In my article, moments ago I wrote about Social Collaboration for Managers. Let’s stay in the process management discussion and cover another important feature for managers that are working items through their Stage Gate process. The feature is Forms. Cim has some extra details that really bring out the power of forms in a Stage Gate process and make it unusually easy to tailor the forms thus enabling you to continually improve your process.
So, a form is just a form – right? Not really. Let’s put it in context. Usually, we think of a form as either a New, or Edit, or a View form. They do one of these. In fact, in SharePoint they have different names. In addition, typically we think of a form as a single all in one item. Thus, if you are entering a record for an item with 20 fields, then, the form will have 20 fields. We also think of a form as working on a single type of item – particularly in a SharePoint context where end-user activity is typically data typed.
However, in a Cim Stage Gate business process, the activity of people changes at each Stage. This is the design. In addition, at each Stage, you may have different people or groups of people acting in the roles for that Stage. They may act on different types of data that are related. Further, you may want certain individuals to have special rights to perform unique actions at that Stage. The upshot is that the activities within Stages are different. So, we figure that the forms should be able to be different also.
Below we show a typical Cim form. At first glance it looks like a normal form. The form has 11 fields. True. But, actually it is one form working on an item that has 40+ fields. This particular form is for Moderator Notes used at the initial Screening stage. Note that the form has read only fields and edit fields. Thus, with this form the user can only do 3 things. They can attach documents, make some notes, or check off the assessments required. But, they can see other data to put their work in context. You can also specify what group of people you want to be able to use this form vs. another form. Yes, in one Stage Gate display you actually can have multiple, role-based forms.
Below, we show another form to Task a Supporting Team. This one is available at the Review stage. It is used to assign tasks to people. But, it is a rather robust little “form”. First, it doesn’t just assign the task, it actually goes out and creates a new task in a Team Site for a team located somewhere across a SharePoint environment. it doesn’t just add the fields you enter on the form, but, it pushed forward say 5-10 other fields from the item that you are working on. This way the assignor only fills out a few fields, but, the assigned team/user has everything that they need at their fingertips.
Well almost. This new task is related back to the item that you are working on so that the person working the task can access additional information such as related documentation, comments, and interact with others “upstream”. This remotely assigned task is trackable as part of the business process. The form can also kick off chained actions such as notifying people, logging items or updating other related information.
Now, that is a lot of work for a little form.
The Value is in the Ease of Configuration
Okay, so maybe I have you thinking that our Cim forms are quite useful. But, that is really just the beginning. The key to business value is that we make it very easy for a non-technical person to create their own “forms”. This is really where the value comes from. Your process is different from other business teams and organizations. Your process changes; you get better, smarter, leaner, and even smarter. The value is that Cim can very easily adapt to deliver the continuous improvement in your process.
How? Cim leverages the underlying CorasWorks v11 Solution Platform to make this happen. You use a nifty tool called the CorasWorks Actions Wizard to create or modify your forms. You have many options to choose from, all by clicking, and then you can snap your new form into your business process. Bottom line is that it might take 2-3 minutes to create a form and snap it in and try it out. And, you can even change the color in that time. The Action Wizard is designed for truely non-technical users, what some like to call the new Citizen Developer.
Remember the Stage Gate
Before ending, let me restate that Cim usually is implemented in a Stage Gate process. Each stage is different, and, different people will do different things at each stage. The forms are a key aspect of laying out the work stream through the stage gates. In future articles, I’ll drill down further into the other types of actions provides by Cim that drive activity in your process such as Human Actions, Task Automation, Workflow, Email Notifications, System Notifications, Chained Actions, Timer Actions and more. The key for all of these in Cim is that they are easily tailored, by non-technical people using wizards, to meet the changing needs of Your process. The ability for the software to be easily adapted is a core value proposition for continuous innovation and improvement.
Cim forms, at your service…