O365: Business System Interfacing with SharePoint Online
We all use business systems, these are the software items we employ, like payroll software, accounting software and industry specific applications that make sure we run our businesses within a framework of rules.
We can't do without them in many cases as the software vendor spends megabucks ensuring that the checks and balances within the software keep us on the legal and moral straight and narrow. This means licencing particular users within the organisation to use and maintain them and this in turn sometimes leads to situations where a few users, or sometimes one user, becomes 'keeper of the key', holding business vital data that only they can access or disseminate.
Most business systems offer reporting functions where selected business essential data can be extracted and distributed to none licenced operatives for use outside the system. Such data is often extracted in some form of textual flat file, such as Comma-Separated-Value, XML, or just plain text. In some cases the business system allows direct queries to be made on a core database.
The data extracted is sometimes used for analysis, but is often ported into other business systems on the same network.
O365 offers a huge range of functionality to import data, convert or transform data and export data. But, additional to this an O365 collection can also be configured as a full workflow system, triggereing tasks for individual operatives or groups, notifying that data is available for analysis and tracking the action taken in a task list for supervisor oversight or later audit.
While there is nothing new about business system interfacing. Extracting data from one business system and importing it into another in a conventional computer network does require a considerable amount of IT knowhow. Even today I often come across business processes where such data is printed out and re-typed in to another system as the interfacing expertise is not available, or is deemed too expensive.
Within O365 there lies the means to import data, filter data, extract partial strings of data, build new strings of data and export the result in a form that is consumable by another business application. Additionally, this does not require extensive IT expertise, or large chunks of administrative effort to achieve.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris has many years experience as a IT manager and Business Analyst.
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