Article last updated on the 15th of March 2021.
Business modules are at the very core of WorkPoint solutions. Business modules host the individual entities of WorkPoint solutions, e.g. Cases, Projects or Employees.
Business modules are SharePoint lists, which contain items pointing to individual entity sites. On these entity sites, users can store documents or other items, set up appointments, create tasks, register risks, and much more.
Business module lists may also simply hold all necessary information themselves - an example of this is given in the image later in this introduction.
The following image shows the business module structure of the standard WorkPoint Project Management solution.
Examples of business modules in the image above are Companies, Projects, and Contacts.
This image exemplifies a structural hierarchy of business modules; The Companies module is at the top of the hierarchy, and the Projects- and Contacts modules are child modules of the Companies module. This serves multiple purposes, an example of which is with the use of mail merging and document templates.
The Companies and the Projects business modules hosts list items, which is what we refer to as "Entities". These entity list items contain meta data for the entity. Examples of these are the Project ID and title of a project, or a title and VAT number of a company.
In many cases, entities also contain links to associated entity sites. These sites are where documents, tasks, events and other items related to the individual entities are stored. Examples of these could be a Project site which contain documents for project descriptions, a project plan, as well as journalized e-mails and appointments related to the project.
In the example in the image, you will notice that the Contact entities do not link to entity sites. This is because in this setup, all contacts are simply list entries on the Contacts business module, as sites for contacts are not necessary. In this example, we simply need to store some meta data for contacts, such as name, address, and so on.
Note that the WorkPoint system automatically sets up navigation between business modules on the solution. On the solution, both the structural hierarchy of the business modules and navigation elements can be found in the "Home" side panel, which looks like the following:
WorkPoint also automatically created a set of so-called MyTools buttons on the business module, and on business module entity sites. These buttons are responsible for executing specified actions. You can read more about MyTools here.
2. Creating a new business module
Business modules can be created in the WorkPoint Administration:
- In the WorkPoint Administration, on the front dashboard, or the "Business Modules" page, click "Add new".
This opens the configuration page for the new business module:
- Provide a title for the business module.
- Optionally select a language for localization. Localization refers to SharePoint's ability to display information based on the preferred language of the user.
- Provide a translation for the business module title.
- Click the "+" button to add the localization.
- In the "Entity name" field, provide the singular term for the business module title. Examples could be the name "Complaint" for the title "Complaints", or the name "Company" for the title "Companies".
- Optionally select a language for localization.
- Provide a translation for the business module name.
- Click the "+" button to add the localization.
- Optionally select a template for the business module. Templates outfit business modules with predefined content, such as libraries for documents, e-mails and other types of lists. In this example, a template for complaints exists, so it was selected. Other options are:
- Optionally select another existing business module as parent for this one. Parent business modules are relevant in certain cases in the WorkPoint system, such as mail merging and templates. Creating parent-child relationships between business modules also makes it possible to quickly find entities related to each other, e.g. projects related to a specif company.
- Provide a parent relation. Typically this is the entity name of the parent module.
- Optionally type in a group name. Group names are relevant for setups where entities are supposed to be able to be transferred between business modules. An example of this could be a Projects module, and a Projects Archive module, in which archived projects are moved to when getting assigned an archive stage. The Projects module and the Projects Archive module need to have the same Group name defined in this field.
- Select an icon for the business module.
- Decide whether sites should be enabled for the business module. As previously explained in the introduction, sites are not always necessary. If that is the case, keep the "Sites enabled" checker off. In case sites are needed on the business module, enable the checker. This expands the page with the following options:
- Select the type of site collection behavior for the business module. The different types available are:
- Singe site collection (Single site collection to house all sites for this business module. Not recommended for business modules which will possible contain more than 500 entities. Also not supported for production environments, but can be useful for quick demoing or POCs.).
- Multiple entities per site collection (With this option, entity sites< will be created when needed with multiple individual sites located on different site collections. This is advantageous when creating business modules which will easily exceed 500 entities).
- One site collection per entity (A site collection will be created for each entity added to this business module. Useful when entities could contain multiple child entities and possibly share security. Allows WorkPoint to scale to the extremes. Also makes it possible to groupify each entity, e.g. in relation to Teams Integration.).
A graphical representation of the distribution of entities using "Multiple entities per site collection" and "One site collection per entity" options can be seen below:
Note that if enabling sites for the business module, the WorkPoint system automatically generates a so-called Master Site for the business module. A Master Site is a template site which is used to define how subsequent sites on the business module should look. This includes which lists are on the sites, which web parts are set up and their configurations, site pages, among other things.
Sites may take a little while from being created to being available in the system. If you find yourself in the need to be able to quickly create sites for entities and be able to access and use them quickly, WorkPoint offers a feature called "Buffer sites". Buffer sites sets up a configurable amount of sites ready to be assigned to entities. This speeds up site creation, and can greatly help organizations who create entities with sites often. You can read more about Buffer Sites here.
Note that depending on the selection in "Site collection behavior", the options are further expanded. Please refer to the help texts for the fields on the actual page.
Also note that due to performance and scaling reasons, the use of Single site collections are generally discouraged by WorkPoint. Consider using one of the other two options available instead. You can read more about solution scaling here.
- Check "Automatic site creation" if you want the WorkPoint system to automatically create sites for entities created on this business module.
- Click the "Save" button to create the business module.
The Business Module creation job is now queued, and will begin shortly. When running, a page displays the following:
Once the creation is complete, the new business module is ready for use, and can be inspected in the WorkPoint Administration:
3.1. Using the Multiple Entities per Site Collection setting
If selecting the "Multiple entities per site collection" option in pt. 16, you will get the following options which should be considered:
- Check the "Automatic site creation" checker if you want the WorkPoint system to automatically create sites for new entities on the business module.
- Type in a maximum number of sites in each site collection on the business module. Once this number of sites has been reached, a new site collection will be created for subsequent entity sites. This setting works with the "Buffer Site Collections" setting in pt. 22. WorkPoint recommends a maximum of 100 sites per site collection.
- Set a limit for maximum storage capacity on each entity site (indicated in gigabytes, e.g. a value of 10 refers to 10 gigabytes).
- The "Buffer Site Collections" setting sets how many buffer site collections should be available for usage on the business module. A buffer site collection is a pre-built site collection which is hidden and ready for use whenever the need arises - e.g. when the maximum number of sites on the current site collection is reached. Instead of having to wait for the creation of a new site collection to store a new site on, the system will "activate" the next available buffer site collection which will then be used for the next entity sites, up until that one reaches the maximum number of sites allowed, which will then trigger the usage of the next buffer site collection. This is a useful tool to avoid waiting times because the system always has ready-to-use site collections, should the need arise.
Note: Every night, a job runs which makes sure that there is always a number of buffer site collections ready to use equal to the number set in pt. 22. This job can also be triggered manually by clicking "Submit Site Collection Maintenance Job" in the Site Collection Administration pages in the WorkPoint Administration (from the "Site Collection jobs" sub-page).
3. Deleting a business module
If for some reason, you wish to delete a business module from a WorkPoint solution, follow these steps:
- Click the options button for the business module you wish to delete.
- Click "Delete Module".
This opens the "Delete Business Module" page:
- Check the "Delete entity sites" checker on if you also wish to delete all entity sites from the business module.
WARNING: If setting the "Delete entity sites" checker on, you will lose all data on the associated sites - this includes items such as documents.
- Click the "Delete" button to start the deletion process.
After the deletion, this confirmation message is shown:
4. Best practices
Outlined below is a list of best practices with regards to business modules and design of your overall solution architecture design.
- Never use the Single Site site architecture option for production environments. It dies not scale very well. Instead, consider the Multiple Entities per Site Collection or One Site Collection per Entity options.
- Use the Multiple Entities per Site Collection site architecture for scaling without the need of Office 365 Group features (e.g. Microsoft Teams).
- Keep in mind that a Multiple Entities per Site Collection solution is quicker to create and easier to maintain.
- The One Entity per Site Collection site architecture makes it possible to integrate to Microsoft Teams and other Office 365 Group centered services.
- In most cases, site architecture cannot be changed - plan in advance which architecture to utilize.