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HELPDESK for 3 hours! Automate simple business processes in POWERAPPS, FLOW and TEAMS

Hello!

My name is Andrey Braun. I’m a system installation engineer in I-Sys Company. Our Company is focused on the business process automation and provision on the SharePoint platform. I’d like to share with you an implementation of one interesting case.

The idea of this case is the following. I need to implement some HelpDesk system that will allow registering the requests from applicants. The common logic:

  • A letter received to the mailbox, need to be registered as a issue in the HelpDesk system

  • The priority of the issue is defined in accordance with the importance of the letter. From the mailing address is defined the Customer and by the Customer is defined SLA which is used to resolve this request. Then, an issue is created automatically.

  • The issue can be transferred to work, closed or postponed.

  • There should be some dashboard to track changes of active issues.

  • Issues can be created also via chat-bot.

It’s like a classic HelpDesk system, but with some interesting solutions, which I would like to tell.

First of all, I need to create the list structure on the SharePoint Online site. We will need the following lists:

  • Support Issues – any requests from the applicants.

  • Products – catalog of the products for which requests come from the applicants.

  • Customers – catalog of the applicant Companies from which the letters can be come.

  • SLA – catalog with SLA data for each applicant Company. If the applicant belongs to none of the Companies listed in the Customers catalog, then the standard response time to the request is 3 days.

It should be provided the ability to create requests manually by a technical support officer. For this, it’s need to make the most simple form using the Microsoft Power Apps tool and display some requisites on it as shown in the screenshot below:

The created issue can be taken to work by pressing the “Move Issue to in Work” button, located on the bottom on the page:

Then, during the work on the request, the technical support specialist corresponds with the applicant by the mail and after resolving the issue for the request closes the ticket in the System.

The main way to submit a request for an issue will be e-mail. The Office 365 mailbox will be used to receive the letters with the requests, and the process created by using the Microsoft Flow tool will be used to process of the incoming letters.

Microsoft Flow is a cloud service that allows you to create workflows for data exchanging between applications, services, and online services. These processes can be used to collect data, synchronize files, receive notifications and other purposes.

The advantage of the Microsoft Flow tool is a large set of connectors to the various systems and services. For example, in our case, we can use a trigger which will analyze new letters in the mailbox and perform a certain logic for each of them.

Such trigger will look like:

The next logic defined in the process is responsible for generation a unique registration number, issue creation in the HelpDesk system on the SharePoint Online site, and for sending an e-mail notification to the applicant as well:

From my experience with Microsoft Flow, I can say that this is a convenient and reliable tool for creating automatic workflows to exchange data between applications and services. Currently, many numbers of popular services are supported, such as Google, Dropbox, Slack, WordPress, and also various social services such as: Blogger, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo, and so on. Of course, in addition to this, simple integration with Office 365 applications is available.

However, there are some disadvantage:

  • After adding the additional condition blocks or cycles, the readability of the process is greatly reduced. Even after adding three conditions, it becomes difficult to understand the logic of the process because the process designer displays these blocks not in a proper way.

  • Triggers that start the process, do not work immediately after the occurrence of an event, but once in some period of time. That’s why, you need to be ready that the process can be started after a few minutes.

  • The block-action names are the identifiers of these blocks. That’s why, If you would like to rename the block where there are data which are used in the next block, then you cannot rename the original block. You should remove all links first.

Fortunately, these problems are not critical, it’s just mine opinion. So, let’s go ahead.

Now we have two ways to submit the request: manually by a technical support officer and via e-mail by sending a message to a specific address. There is a third way. It is submitting the request using chat bot. With help of developers, I managed to implement a simple scheme of our bot, which allows the applicant to submit his requests directly through Microsoft Teams or Skype applications.

The scheme of submitting the request is the following:

In this dialogue, the chat bot defines the basic information of the request, generate a letter to the e-mail address of the support service. And the next process is the same as it already was described above with using the Microsoft Flow process. The chat bot waits for the request registration to be finished and writes a message to the chat about the successful registration of the issue. This way of communication with technical support is one of the most convenient, because it’s enough to open the chat with a bot in Microsoft Teams or Skype to submit the request and send it. Also, this bot can provide some advice and look for the necessary information in the knowledge base:

The interesting features of chat-bot are:

  • Using the service Dialog Flow from Google, which allows you to classify the requests from the users more accurately and give the necessary information.

  • The ability of the integration with all popular messengers such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Telegram, Slack and others.

  • The knowledge base for the bot is indexed regularly with using Elastic Search, which allows you to maintain the actual of data for search.

  • Also, the bot can just keep informal conversation.

The final important feature of the System is small dashboard implementation by using Power BI with information about statistics for the issues. The data source for this dashboard will be the SharePoint Online lists:

Based on these lists, the data models will be collected for the graphs.

The data source for which the dashboard is formed is regularly updated. And this helps to be aware of the real situation of cases with the requests from the applicants:

The final dashboard is located on the main page of our HelpDesk system:

In conclusion, I would like to say that using the combination of the products listed above and technologies will help you simply create functional and convenient systems for the various purposes.