Tracking work for reporting and accountability was a new department-wide initiative getting a lot of attention, but our team did not have a good way to manage data. Because of this, data either would not get entered or only some information would get entered, which made generating reports or responding to requests for information stressful and time consuming. This project was conceived to make entering data easier, which would eliminate problems occurring further upstream stemming from missing or incomplete data.
In a time of major change throughout the department, it was difficult to ask people to adopt a new process, and it was challenging to get team members who disliked administrative tasks and often spent time out in the field to complete the data entry process. From a design standpoint, using simple, popular applications was a constraint because the company was already paying for the licenses and most users were familiar with the applications.
As a contributing member of the team and a user myself, I did research by working through the existing process many times. Having a hands-on role in the entering data and gathering it for reporting purposes, I was able to see where the breakdowns were happening.
Initially, part of my role was to enter data when a new project or investigation was undertaken, but that created a lot of extra emails and conversations in order for me to understand the work well enough to be able to enter the data. The engineers were overwhelmed with the administrative aspect of their work, but at the same time, it was difficult for me to analyze data or generate reports when information was missing or partially complete.
While the security engineers did not like doing administrative work, they knew all the relevant work information, so I thought that simplifying the data entry process, making it quicker and more user friendly, was a solution. I developed a simple survey style form for the engineers to fill out which logged the data in an online spreadsheet and eliminated manual data entry in Excel.
I designed and created the new system, an interface to access it easily, and documentation on the process. I trained team members in groups and one-on-one. The new process was slowly adopted, and it made our reporting much easier because all the information could be easily pulled from a central location. We were able to build out the form to capture even more information, which became very useful for tracking the kind of work we were doing.
Creating input form
Users input information into a survey style form instead of manually entering information in a spreadsheet.
Input form flow
Form inputs trigger automated "flow" which adds new data to a SharePoint list.
The flow runs each time the form is submitted, and form fields are mapped to columns in a SharePoint list which creates a new entry in the database.
Submitting the form not only logs the data, but it also triggers an email notification and a post in Microsoft Teams. Creating a record in a central location provides a dashboard style view for managers or team members to quickly access new information.
Submitting the form also triggers an email notification to several key team members, including the manager, letting them know that information has been successfully logged.