SharePoint is a platform which delivers very powerful out of box solutions. However, there is a threshold beyond which custom solutions are required to extend SharePoint to meet business requirements. The custom solutions can be small but very powerful. Here is an example of a custom solution which provides immense business value to our real estate investment clients.
The companies and partner firms who are in the business of investing in real estate depend on the K-1 schedule for their tax returns. A K-1 schedule contains all the necessary financial information for the partner’s investment in the real estate which is required for their tax return. However, the tax software generally generates K-1 schedule for the entire firm in one big PDF file. For example, if there are 100 partners in the real estate firm, the tax software generates a huge K-1 schedule for all the 100 partners in one big PDF file. There is a big manual process to print this huge file, split the printout into 100 individual printouts and then distribute it to all the 100 partners. Needless to say, that it is very laborious and error prone manual process.
SharePoint custom solution
A team of SharePoint developers at RSM created a simple and yet very powerful solution in SharePoint to solve the business problem described above. Below is the list of SharePoint artifacts in the custom solution:
- Central drop off library for the complete K-1 schedule (all the partner’s K-1 schedule included)
- A custom document library with individual K-1 schedule.
- A custom workflow to scan the complete K-1 schedule and split it into individual K-1 schedule for each partner, send out emails to each partner with a link to their individual K-1 schedule.
- A utility to provision a new web application and the site collection for the new client being registered
- A utility to maintain the list of partners/users for each new client being registered. The list contains the email address and other important information for each partner in the client firm.
- A form based authentication provisioned for the site since the clients do not have active directory accounts in RSM Cloud hosting this application. Each partner logs into the site using their email address and their own password.
How the solution works
- Client just drops the huge K-1 schedule in the central drop off library in their site.
- The custom workflow wakes up and starts scanning the K-1 schedule. The workflow uses a third party PDF library iTextSharp to scan and manipulate the K-1 PDF file. There is enough intelligence built in the workflow to scan the PDF page by page to find the delimiters where the next partner K-1 schedule starts. The workflow splits the PDF file, drops the individual PDF file into the custom document library with unique permissions to the file. The file can be accessed by the partner only who owns this K-1 schedule. The workflow resumes the scanning of the pending PDF file and continues to do the same steps till it reaches the end of the file. The workflow is also responsible to send the email out to the partner with a link to their own K-1 schedule in the custom document library with unique permissions assigned to their user account in the site.
- The partner gets the email, clicks on the link and accesses their individual K-1 schedule. They can print, download and view their individual K-1 schedule at their own convenience.
This solution can be easily ported to a SharePoint 2013 App which can be deployed to SharePoint market place to be used in Office 365/SharePoint online farms.