Collect and document approvals per stage gate in a Product Launch Process (PLP), using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Approval Workflow.
The marketing team at an international client uses Microsoft Teams and standard Microsoft SharePoint approval workflow to comply to the QA/RA regulations as described in their SOP. Launching new products and services for the EMEA region is one of the core functions of the marketing department.
Product Launch Process
The Product Launch Process is the business process that supports the bringing to the EMEA market of newly developed products. Therefore the Product Launch Process (PLP) manages new product and service launches. Because the PLP has to ensure a timely product launch, the product launch process is a controlled, flexible and supportive process. It has the following objectives:
- Ensure that new projects are assessed against business needs / requirements and ROI before starting the project;
- Provide a structure in which deliverables can be delivered timely;
- Create clear objectives, goals and measures for all new product launches planned in the organisation;
- Define roles and decision-making authority for product/service launches;
- Establish consistent communication and approval processes.
Each phase of the PLP process comprises of a set of deliverables, followed by a stage gate review. Consequently each stage gate is evaluated and concluded with an approval round. Overall purpose of the PLP stage gate approval is to prepare for approval and collect feedback from approvers. And as a result to be able to proceed with the project’s next phase. Microsoft Teams collects approvals through a SharePoint Library Approval workflow solution in the back-end. Workflows help automate the PLP stage gate process. As a result making it both more consistent and more efficient. The workflow routes documents stored in Teams to one or more people for their approval.
- Efficient and consistent An Approval workflow automatically routes the document (link) to the approvers via email, assigns review tasks and tracks their progress, and sends reminders and notifications when needed. The activity in a workflow can be monitored and adjusted from a central status page.
- Less work for you An Approval workflow saves you and your colleagues both time and trouble (searching, status updates), and at the same time streamlines and standardizes your approval process.
Here’s a graphical example of the PLP Approval Workflow:
Approve Product Launch documents
Approvers receive a message, containing a link to the file in Teams, and a link to their task in the SharePoint Task list. They can go to their task from this email, or from the opened document. From the taks they can approve or reject, and also include some comments.
Especially relevant is the link from Teams to the task list. To make it easier for approvers to find all of thier open tasks, we’ve added a tab to the Team’s channel that displays ‘My Pending Approvals’. This tab is showing a filtered view of the PLP Task list, showing only ‘my’ open tasks.
Saving the full approval process for a Product Launch Process document
The Document Status Page gathers all information centrally for each PLP document.
Finally, after the process for approval is done, the project manager creates a pdf from the Document Status Page. This final approval report contains the final decision (approved or rejected) and in addition feedback to take into consideration for the next PLP stage. The approval report in pdf format is stored in MS Teams as well. As a last step, if all approvals are positive, the project manager will indicate how the feedback will be incorporated into the project going forward. More examples of smarter ways to work in this Customer use case Sales meeting notes.