Correspondence Management with SharePoint and EasyBox

SharePoint provides a powerful document management system and integrates easily with SharePoint Designer, or in more complex instances, Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), to create highly configurable business process automation systems. With SharePoint’s ubiquitious presense in medium to large businesses and the federal government, SharePoint has become a common and attractive option for automating full-blown corrospondence management solutions. The problem lies in the leap from automating document driven processes to auditing those proccesses.

How Do Most CMS’s Work?

Most SharePoint based Correspondence Management Sytems (CMS) work something like this:

  1. SharePoint (often SharePoint Records Center) used to store incoming correspondence
  2. SharePoint Designer (or WF) used to create a set of steps the correspondence will go through
  3. At each step, the system emails the next user and instructs them to perform some kind of task
  4. User downloads referenced documents and performs actions needed to proceed to next step
  5. Same user uploads editted documents and marks task as complete
  6. SharePoint list used to track the lifecycle step a particular document is in
  7. Audits performed by viewing tracking list and seeing where each correspondence lies

CMS Advantages:

  • Powerful and robust
  • Relatively easy to set up
  • Uses software you are probably already paying for

CMS Disadvantages:

  • No visibility into what’s actually happening with your information once it’s been emailed out to users
  • Dependence on email security that is separate from your secure SharePoint system
  • Many copies of the documents being worked on leads to redundancy and versioning issues

Technology Stack: Correspondence Management with EasyBox Architecture

So What’s the Solution?

EasyBox! EasyBox is a secure messenger with a broad API that lives in SharePoint and integrates with SharePoint Designer and WF to act as an information hub that tracks not only what step a workflow is on, but also all of the messages and correspondences that surround each step.

When a user begins a step, EasyBox creates a message in the EasyBox database. Any users who need to view the message will see the message in their personal inbox, but behind the scenes only one copy of the message is ever created. The message will contain links to any documents needed to complete the task. The actual documents will not be bundled with the emails, but instead there will be a link to the documents’ location in SharePoint.

This keeps one and only one version of the document in existence and allows us to use SharePoint’s audit logs to obtain a complete history of anyone that viewed or edited the document with timestamps and details. EasyBox also tracks every time a user reads or responds to an EasyBox message and provides reports on who actually views attachments sent through EasyBox’s. This gives a level of granularity not possible using email, another added bonus.

Your Correspondence Management Dramatically Improves

When a user needs to collaborate with other users on a workflow task, they use EasyBox messages. When a user needs to send other users documents to attach them in EasyBox. The end result is a correspondence management system where every action is tracked and time-stamped, where no copies of private data ever leave the system, and most importantly, where the IP created while responding to correspondence is fully tracked with the correspondence itself. This makes formal document lifecycle management with EasyBox more powerful and more auditable than any other solution on the market.

Ask us for demo of what EasyBox can do with SharePoint to form a complete correspondence management solution!

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