Tag Archive for help desk

Customer Examples of Work Request Management apps for SharePoint

Over the last month, I’ve worked with a number of customers that are deploying applications for various scenarios of work request management.  This category of application is very common for all organizations and works great with CorasWorks on SharePoint.  It leverages the collaborative nature of a SharePoint environment and the work management feature set of CorasWorks.  The key design principal is to recognize that they are fundamentally cross-functional processes.  In this article, I’ll look at 4 different customer scenarios.  I’ll talk about what is common amongst them and how they differ.  I believe that any SharePoint Service Delivery Management team should make this category of app a staple of their offerings.  Once you get the core design pattern, you’ll find lots of applications for it.

Basic Work Request Management app

There are six core elements that are common to work request apps as follows:

  • They are an app, meaning there is a core site dedicated to this purpose vs. it being a feature added to a team site.
  • A requestor fills in a form to kick off a request.
  • The requestor can see, track, and engage with assigned “workers” on their requests.
  • Workers and Managers do various things (automated CorasWorks actions and forms) to respond to and complete the request.
  • Requestors and others are notified of activities and/or collaborated with.
  • You have reporting on the activity.

Customers Scenarios

Here are the 4 customer scenarios:.

Materials Storage for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

This application is for requests to store chemicals (materials) within a manufacturing group.  People make their requests and others work the requests noting how long items are stored and where. Requestors are notified of the work and they get pinged when their storage expiration date is approaching.

IT Requests for SharePoint Work and Help Desk Tickets for Health Agency

This customer uses a couple of different WRM apps for IT to support the organization.  One allows users to log the requests for the SharePoint team for new sites, changes to sites, or new apps.  The SharePoint team then manages these requests.  The other is a WRM-based “Help Desk” app where users enter tickets and Help Desk folks work them.

Employee Requests of HR for Pharmaceutical

This customer is using WRM to enable employee across the enterprise to make requests of HR.  In this case, they created three request workstreams.  Each has a slightly different set of work management activities.  From the user perspective they are able to see the different requests in a single display from wherever they work.

HR Staffing Requests for Federal Contractor

An important process for many Federal Contractors is making requests of HR to find or recruit people to work on contracts.  In this case, a business development (BD) person working on a new proposal/task order makes requests of HR to staff specific positions.  The requests are related to specific Proposals/Task Orders.  However, HR manages all of the requests centrally.


All of the above follow the same basic design as described above.  People make requests.  People work on the requests.  There is back and forth.  The requests are closed out.  There is reporting.

The interesting part is that these are four very different “applications”.  In many organizations, they would presume that they would be looking to go out and buy or build completely different applications.  However, with CorasWorks on SharePoint each of these uses the same basic framework.  Thus, armed with one basic design you can now fill many different needs and save lots of time an money in the process.

Further, when you build them, the things that you will primarily change are also common:

  • The core data (fields) of the “work request” list are different.
  • The request form is different.
  • The worker roles are specific to the process.
  • The app navigation is different.
  • The displays and most importantly the worker/manager actions, work forms, and notifications are different.
  • Reports are different.

With CorasWorks, each of the above is easily modified using our wizards.  So, you have a common app design and you know the common things that you will be changing to accommodate the specific needs of the app.  If you look at it like an assembly line, you are all set to deliver.

Key Deployment Differences of the Apps

While the four apps have many core commonalities, there are differences in the overall deployment approach across the SharePoint environment.  This is important because work request management is fundamentally a cross-functional collaborative process.  Thus, where people go to engage, whether requestor, worker, or manager, can be different based upon the scenario.


In the Materials Storage app, all of the different users work in a single app site.  Requestors go there to make their requests.  Workers go there to do their work.  Managers go there to manage.  This makes it easier to create the app and is the way you would typically start.  However, it is not really a best practice given the ability to distribute functionality using CorasWorks.


In the IT Request app, the Requestors don’t go into the app app site to make requests.  They are able to be elsewhere across the SharePoint environment and enter their requests from their and see their requests and interact.  This makes it more convenient for the users.  Generally, you start by building the app as an All-in-one and then just distribute the displays.

Many Projects to Work Management Team (Hub and Spoke)

The HR Staffing app is a bit different.  In this specific scenario, you have many Proposal/Task Order sites (or could be project sites).  A team is working on these projects.  They enter their requests from the site.  However, the HR Work Request site is central – all of the requests feed into the one app.  HR is then able to manage it all in one place and interact with the requestors via their project sites.  This ends up as a Hub and Spoke deployment.


The Employee request design is different also.  In this case, there is a self-service page in the enterprise portal.  Users go to this one place and enter and see their requests across the three types.  The requests are funneled into the three different workstreams managed by HR.  HR is also able to work on them via a single display.

Getting You Spun Up for Work Request Management

The work request management category of app is a staple of SharePoint environments that have gone past basic site centric content sharing.  We often work with customers to train up their SDM teams to deliver this category of app.  We have a standard set of templatized apps and training to help get you going quickly.  Email support@corasworks.net for more information.


IT Department App Trio for SharePoint Released

Over the last few days we’ve released a trio of plug-and-play apps that play nicely together to get an IT Department working productively on SharePoint.  They consist of the Department Dashboard, Work Order Approval app and Help Desk.  They all run on the AppEngine for SharePoint.  In this article, we’ll talk about how they work individually and together.

 Quick Start for an IT Department

So, you have SharePoint and want to get an IT Department working more productively.  The trio gives you a solid way to start.  Each of the apps is available from the CorasWorks App Store.  They are as follows:

- Department Dashboard – used as the primary collaborative site for the IT Department and for integrating in the apps, processes, and, connections across the IT department and to other departments

- Work Order Approval – a 3 stage approval process for internal work orders; can be used in many departments

image- Help Desk –designed for an internal Help Desk for your organization; includes the ability to distributed the end-user self-service displays to wherever they work


They can be used stand alone, but together, they provide a tight, integrated solution.  This diagram shows how they basically lay out.  It also shows how the apps in your IT Department can be connected with other departments (see Help Desk self-service scenario below).

How they Plug-and-Play together

The Department Dashboard is typically installed at the upper level of the group.  If you are starting from scratch, you’d make it the top level site of a new Site Collection.  It provides the basic collaborative environment for your department.  As you add apps they are integrated into the department dashboard and features of the other apps are snapped into the department allowing people to do their work from the dashboard.

(For more information about this app: see this 18 minute demo of the Department Dashboard, and, see the app in the App Store).

One thing you’ll do is set up your Department Global Menu (or tie it into your Global Menu).  This is all point and click driven and gives you the ability to centrally configure the menu across all the apps in the IT Department and/or your organization.

You then install the Work Order Approval Process below the dashboard.  It gives you a complete integrated business process with email notifications and 3 stages.  You integrate it with the dashboard through the Department menu.  You will also want to put some displays in your IT department dashboard for users.  For instance, you can add a display that allows end-users to enter new work orders and track their status while working in the dashboard.  You may also want to distribute the Review and Approval functionality to other departments (there are three stages for Department, Executive, and Finance – which you can modify).

(For more information about this app: see this 12 minute demo of the Work Order Approval app, and, see the app in the App Store)

Next, you move to the Help Desk.  This is a robust app that is great for an internal Help Desk.  You’ll also tie it into the Department menu.  It contains two Snaplets that allow you to distribute Help Desk functionality.  One is the End-User self-service display (the other is a Management Reporting Snaplet).   This is an important piece to start to offload the data entry work of help desk engineers.  You simply snap it into the IT Department dashboard, other departments’ dashboards, your portal, my site, or anywhere else and  end-users can enter new requests, track the status and history of requests, and pop-off emails – without having to go anywhere.  In addition, it is centrally configured.  This means that even though the Snaplet could be in 50 or 500 places, the Help Desk admin can make one change in the app and all instances of the Snaplet web part are updated.

(For more information about this app: see this extensive 27 minute demo of the Help Desk app, and, see the app the App Store)

Another connection you may want to do is to connect the Help Desk to the Work Order Approval app.  You do this by adding a CorasWorks action to the Help Desk.  The scenario is that you may have a Help Desk ticket that should spawn a work order, say for a purchase and some labor hours.  The user selects a Help Desk item, runs the action, which automatically enters a new work order tied back to the Help Desk item.  Then, the normal work order process moves forward.

Following the above basic approach, in a couple of hours you can have a robust, integrated environment for your IT Department that also connects with the rest of the departments in your organization.  It is a great way to start.


Getting the Apps

Each of these three apps is available individually via the App Store.  They run on the AppEngine or the Workplace Suite.  They list for $1,000, however, they are all free to CorasWorks customers on our Premier Annual Support & Maintenance program (“PASM”).  You “buy” them through the App Store ecommerce (make sure to login to get the $0 price if you are on PASM), download, install, and use them.  It will take you less than an hour to get each up and running.  You can then connect them up and customize them to meet your needs.  Each has rather extensive documentation that covers installation, use, customization, and connecting it with your environment.

Note that there are two editions of each app in the App Store – Local and One Touch.  the difference is the configuration of the app itself.  The editions released last week are the Local edition.  These are easier to install and use.  The One Touch editions, released previously, are a bit more sophisticated and used when you want central configuration and management.  Here is my blog that explains in more detail how One Touch editions work and the benefits of this configuration.  Both run on either the AppEngine or Workplace Suite.