SPFest Chicago 2013: Build a SharePoint Intake/Request List with MVP Wes Preston

Microsoft MVP Wes Preston shared
with us best practices for building an Intake/Request
, a simple but often overlooked task. Wes started talking about how
these lists are efficient, easy to track, and logged, which makes utilizing
them far more effective than tracking down your IT Manager in the hallway. He
then took us through the pre-build, build, and post-build stages for these lists.

Before you build a form, you need to think about how and why it’s going to be
used. Think about the frequency with which it will appear, and how it could possibly
change over time. What do users want from this request? What roles are
involved? These questions will help you frame the content that is going to be
needed for the form. Think about the metrics you will get from the form: Will
they give you the information you need? In addition, Wes recommends that you think
about user adoption BEFORE making your form. If it is likely that no one will
use the form, then there’s no point in making it in the first place. Think
about the information architecture. Where is this form going to live? Is it
going to be on a sub-site somewhere or a stand-alone form? Who is going to be
the owner of the form? All these considerations will help you make a more
usable form.

When it comes to building your form, you will need standard criteria like
name, description, type, created date, etc. Obviously, this data will change
based on the purpose of the form but, as general information, it’s a good place
to start for most tasks. When you are building your form, you may notice that you
have fields that only need addressing after
the first part of the task has been completed. This issue can be easily dealt
with setting up a simple workflow. By setting certain fields to only show up
after the task has been initiated,
you can keep things clean and simple for the end-user. After all, there’s no
sense asking questions that do not yet have answers. Another thing to consider
when improving your forms is to set the views to be different depending on the
role of the person viewing it. This makes sense as a developer may need
different information than an end-user does. As Wes noted, you can set up this
form and workflow through SharePoint Designer,
though be warned, in SharePoint 2013,
Designer ONLY offers a code view.

Once you are happy with your form, go back to the questions you asked
yourself before the build and see how you did. Make sure that before you
release it to the masses that you test the form with other people in your
organization to see how it works through a couple of cycles. This will help ensure that your form is free of hiccups and ready for broad use.

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