Case Study: Social Services Organization Finds Project Management Solution Through Modern Microsoft Technology

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Learn how a social services nonprofit can better fulfill its mission by achieving seamless collaboration and document management with Microsoft Teams and Power Automate.

Executive Summary

A nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia was looking for a modern solution for project collaboration and communication. Replacing outdated file shares with modern Microsoft technology gave the organization’s employees and external users easy access to collaborate on documents creating an efficient way for the team to manage projects.

The Client

Social service organization based in Philadelphia, PA, looking to close the literacy achievement gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers. The nonprofit achieves its mission by working with pre-K through fifth-grade teachers to improve early literacy instruction so that children become powerful thinkers, readers and writers. They provide coaching and curated collections of high-quality learning materials for teachers to help incorporate effective literacy practices into their daily work with students.

The Challenge

Since the mission of the nonprofit is to help teachers teach through training materials, the need for organized, carefully curated content is critical. Their teachers and trainers struggled to quickly find the information and documents they needed because documents were stored in multiple locations. The organization’s main form of communication was email, which led to numerous versions of documents getting lost or needing to be merged. Not only was this an inefficient way to collaborate internally, but it was also an inefficient way to share documents and give access to external users that worked with the nonprofit. Through all this chaos, the organization experienced difficulties and delays in putting together training content. These hurdles caused them to lose visibility on project statuses, which led to poor project management.

The Approach and Solutions

To remedy the content management pain points and help the nonprofit achieve a more productive and efficient workplace, Withum’s Digital and Technology Solutions Team worked with the client’s content development team to implement Microsoft Teams. Leveraging Microsoft Teams for their document creation process allowed them to collaborate on documents in one place, update documents in real-time and invite external users to collaborate. The nonprofit also had the option to integrate external users in two different ways: invite external users as guests or grant the external party access to a document library that lives in the Microsoft Teams SharePoint site. Giving access to a specific document library in the organization’s SharePoint site provides the client better control over what external users can access.

As part of the solution, Withum created a customized automation process for tagging content with Microsoft Power Automate. Power Automate was used to move content from one stage to another, allowing the organization to improve project status visibility and compliance and ensure that specific metadata fields were filled out.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit had to pivot to virtual learning, which meant more content needed to be available to everyone digitally. To support this need, a web part from Withum’s Office 365 intranet-as-aservice, OneWindow Workplace, was implemented. OneWindow acted as a centralized hub for users to gather and search through all of their content within Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. The client used a keyword search function to refine their results, making it easier to find the documents they needed quickly. Withum’s Digital and Technology Solutions Team also created multiple default views to search for documents using the metadata tags and descriptions. OneWindow provided users a centralized location for managing content and made it easy to share documents with external users.

The Results, ROI

The social service organization’s team members can now search for information and link to a single version of a document. A centralized point for document collaboration avoids duplicate records, lowers maintenance burden and saves time. Document searching is more efficient now that a keyword search and standard default views by metadata exist. Automation of metadata tagging enforces compliance and project timeline status since human error is now eliminated from the process. The nonprofit now has a single source of truth enabling efficient collaboration, communication and project management.

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