Need to Use Outlook forms to send attachments and store replies and process information in Excel

Q  How do I use Outlook forms to build a solution which features:

  • Online forms which allow attachments and generate emails to nominated email addresses
  • Ability to send and reply
  • On line reports
  • Ability to store process data  into an Excel spreadsheet

Key points

  • There are a number of ways to do this, Outlook forms isn’t one of them…
  • Use a solution that operates via the web browser
  • I can see either an Dreamweaver/ASP/ASP.net/SQL Server solution or a  SharePoint solution

Option 1: ASP/ASP.net/SQL Server

  • Develop a custom ASP/SQL server application using Dreamweaver with forms and reports accessed via the browser
  • If CDO.sys (or JMAIL or similar) is available then completion of forms can generate emails to nominated e-mail addresses (emails generated by the server – not using email client)
  • Components are also available that allow documents to uploaded via the browser and then attached to the email
  • Input forms can be completly custom and data can be validated client-side and server-side
  • This approach can also use XML to facilitate transfer of data to Excel
  • Database tables and server side code would have to be created – lots of hand coding and testing
  • Completely tailored and custom solution but not something a typical end user can create – you will need IT resources and basic programming skills.

Option 2: SharePoint

  • Use SharePoint site with a document library with attached workflow
  • The Document Library could be customised to add required additional data – additional fields can be required and validated – using built in tools or InfoPath
  • SharePoint provides forms to add and edit information about the document
  • Data is stored in a Library– (actually in an SQL server table, but SharePoint looks after that for us) and can be transferred to Excel in one click
  • A Feedback or Approval workflow will do exactly what is required regarding forwarding documents and associated data for review or approval
  • A workflow can be triggered by a document being added (uploaded) to the library
  • A workflow will cause a link to the document with a customised email message to be sent to a nominated user or group of users for feedback or approval
  • Tasks are created to allow the documents review or approval to be tracked
  • Responses can include comments/request changes etc and will be emailed to a nominated email address
  • Unless a custom workflow is required, a trained SharePoint user with designer permissions could do this – no coding required Recommendation

 

Steven Knight

IT Trainer

Steven Knight Training