Using a Single Source to Display Information in Dozens of Locations

The Situation

The fossil-hydro fleet had a goal of radical improvement in safety, environmental, and operational performance. Implemented tactics involved heavily publicizing negative events fleet-wide and forcing awareness and learning across the fleet every day. While this effort involved much more effort than tracking and communicating statistics, one of the key tools was an Excel workbook that tracked the sum of negative events in every region, station, and support workgroup. It was a key measure for station and management performance at all levels and locations and was called the “Event-Free Index”.

Because the drive to reduce events was such a large (and ultimately successful) effort, managers at all lower levels began recreating that simple scorecard table locally to reflect organizational and station numbers. This duplication caused frequent confusion and outdated data to be used in staff meetings across the organization. Even when the data was accurate, it meant that many employees were investing effort recreating what was already available in the single high-level Excel workbook.

The Task

After seeing this duplication and confusion for a few months, it occurred to me to suggest using a SharePoint solution to make the high-level Excel data automatically push out to the SharePoint sites of the lower organizations.

The Action

I met with the manager of the high-level data and arranged for him to maintain it with an eye toward replication across the organization. We moved the file from a shared drive to a SharePoint document library and set the permissions on the file so that all employees could read the data, but only he and an assistant could edit it.

Using Excel Web Services (a component included in SharePoint), I built web parts on the home pages of all regional and several station SharePoint home pages.

The Results

The tool eliminated 100% of the time spent at each region and station maintaining duplicate files. While the financial savings may not have been huge, it also eliminated 100% of the uncertainty about the accuracy of the information since it was now being fed from the single official source.

Imagine how this functionality can help you in your own similar situations. Excel workbooks and all their components (including pivot tables) can be displayed and manipulated from your SharePoint pages. Employees will not even need to know where the source files are located.

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