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SharePoint Online Inventory Application

Posted on 2015-02-16
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Last Modified: 2016-02-11
Hello,

I understand that the following is a broad question; I have never developed/administered SharePoint before.

I have six clients across the United States that have excess/surplus/unwanted inventory. The clients have participated in a program managed by company. Our ONLY obligation is to maintain the inventory data; we do NOT purchase, sell, ship, or provide confirmation of any the aforementioned.

Currently, I am circulating a spreadsheet with the inventory data. When a client would like inventory offered by another, Client A will contact Client B and purchase the inventory; a message detailing the transaction is given to me, and I update the spreadsheet.

What would be the best away to accomplish the following on SharePoint:

1.) Show a list of the available inventory?
2.) Allow users to enter new inventory via a form or other such simple method?
3.) Allow users to select inventory desired and then have that inventory removed from the spreadsheet?
4.) Have an e-Mail outling what was done in Step 3 sent to me, and the client that performed the action.

Additional, but not required:

5.) There is a column that indicates what client has the inventory. Could step 4 also send an e-Mail to the client whose inventory is being edited?

Theorectically, a user from Client A would visit the website, review the inventory, decide that they would like to purchase Product A and Product C from Client B, select the items for removal from the list, and then receive an e-Mail addressed to Client A, Client B, and me detailing that Product A and C were removed from the shared inventory list (thus indicating they intend to purchase)?

I apologize for the broad spectrum -- I have no idea where to start.
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Question by:EnigmaMatter
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colly92002 earned 500 total points
ID: 40614041
At first glance this is too complicated a question for here - ideally what you really need is some turnkey software to do this job, OOTB Sharepoint is not really the platform for it simply because configuring all this can take a long time and can feel a bit "clunky".

However... You could leverage Sharepoint to host six inventory lists (one for each company), set up as vanilla custom lists using your own content type/custom fields, inluding colument for "status" (available/sold/returned etc.).  Once things are "sold" your default view should be configured to ignore them.  You could set up an alert that emails you whenever anything is changed so you can monitor that things are being kept upto date.

The "owning" company would get read/write, eveybody else gets read.

Set up a new Workflow (using SP Designer) that is used to "request" an item.  Any vistor can start that workflow off on a line, and that workflow sends you an email detailing the item in question, and perhaps sets a "status" column on that item to "requested" and the date etc.  THis would end up in a task list that only you have access to (and send you emails etc.)

Your task list could have another workflow attached that allowed you to "approve" or "reject" that item, and that would write back to the source list to update the status to "sold" or whatever, and put in any other data required at that point.

This would probably work quite nicely provided you got the workflows set up correctly.

Best of luck :)
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by:EnigmaMatter
ID: 40614367
Any suggestions for turnkey software?
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by:colly92002
ID: 40615413
Nothing I'm aware off, but its the sort of thing a software company specialising in inventory could help with.  It's the sort of thing you could probably do using Access for example, although getting clients spread across the States using it would be a challange - unless you have Access Services in SharePoint in which case you could host it inside SharePoint.

SharePoint is an excellent platform for this sort of thing, and a little coding can make a system much more slick (e.g. a button to select an item of inventory rather than picking a workflow from a drop down menu is much nicer for users, but would require custom code).  

Ensure that your clients can actually access your SharePoint farm before you commit to anything (it can be expensive to licence if on-site, probably not so expensive if cloud).

It can be very fiddly setting up workflows if you have not done it before, but if you are willing to employ somebody to do this for you then this is not too hard a task.  The biggest problem will be that OOTB SharePoint is not neccessarily easy to use for end-users, they can struggle to work with if they are not used to it, and starting Workflows etc. can be a challenge for users.   However I can't see why the plan set out above wouldn't be perfectly adequate from a procedural/process point of view.
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by:EnigmaMatter
ID: 40615457
How does one "code" a button? That is what my issue is, I don't know how to make this easy for the end user.

I know VBA.
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by:colly92002
ID: 40615493
It's not straightforward, many possible techniques, and to do it properly requireds requires .net c#/vb and Visual Studio to deploy changes as a feature.

Here are some code-lite suggestions:
https://www.simple-talk.com/blogs/2009/11/24/initiate-a-sharepoint-workflow-from-a-button-on-the-list-view/
https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com/2010/04/21/4-clicks-or-1-using-jquery-to-start-a-sharepoint-workflow-aspx/

You don't actually need this, but it does make things nicer.
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