SharePoint is a scalable and customizable collaboration, content and communication platform. It is embedded in Office 365 and it brings all of the familiar Microsoft productivity tools that your workforce is already using into a more organized digital framework that can be scaled and customized to solve increasingly complex business challenges. It’s a platform that allows managers and executives to empower an agile workforce to be more efficient, productive, and self sufficient. It allows them to share knowledge, solve problems, and make decisions without the barriers and bottlenecks that stifle less organized and more top heavy enterprises.
As it has developed over the years, it has become widely misunderstood and therefore underutilized. If you’re contemplating it as a solution for organization, it is important to know that it can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. And, you can start small and grow it as needed.
How exactly does SharePoint help?
Collaboration, Community, and Communication
First and foremost, SharePoint is a universal tool kit for collaboration. It allows teams across your organization to create and share documents and files without emailing attachments back and forth. They can access from any device, anywhere, make edits, track revisions, and work in a much more intelligent manner.
Communication is built in with tools like Yammer and Teams as well as Microsoft Outlook. There is no more need for third party chat messaging or separate email apps. Everything is integrated within the SharePoint platform and the conversation threads are linked to the project, or documents that are the subject of the communications.
Community can be built around sites for each department, team, and the organization as a whole where employees see a dashboard of the news, projects, communication, and calendars most relevant to them and their daily job role. They can use these sites as the jump off point for generating new ideas, solving business process or work flow problems, creating and sharing content and knowledge, and accessing important policy or procedure documents.
Integrating the messaging and news and projects into one collaborative platform becomes an internal social network for your organization. It puts attention and priority on the work at hand. Employees feel empowered to interact with team members and supervisors. Work progress among departments and teams are easily viewed by managers, executives, or other teams waiting to see the final outputs or in progress work products that affect customers or other parts of the organization.
Employees can also create their internal profiles so that other team members have a better sense of who they are, what they work on, and how to best connect and collaborate with them.
Content Management Beyond Basic File Storage
As a content management system, SharePoint allows you to create and store content at a whole new level. There is no more need for emailing documents and changes back and forth. This is not only a security risk. It’s messy and inefficient. Multiple people can be making controlled changes and edits simultaneously within one live document instead of marking up or editing separate versions of documents on their own local system. With metadata tagging, SharePoint Views allows users to see related documents and files. This means if their accessing one document relevant to a project, they can quickly see a snapshot of other files and documents they may also need to review or update. Also by tagging documents, your users can search and find them without having to go through the tedious process of navigating through folders and subfolders of subfolders.
Security and Control
Data and document security are a primary benefit of SharePoint. The intranets you create will have security controls that limit access to certain documents and records so that only the people who need to see them can actually access or edit them. Version history captures the details of when the file was changed, who made the change, and what was changed. When necessary, previous versions are saved and can be recovered and restored. When documents are created, the author can set security and access controls based on the target folders or document rules at the time of upload. This ensures that employee benefits or handbook files can be seen by all but sensitive financial, contract or human resource materials can be seen only by the executives or managers who need them.
Informative content and collective knowledge are of limited benefit to an organization if no one can find any of it. Most companies have all of this data and information scattered across individual desktops, laptops, department servers, or stuffed in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet. Once all of those files, data, and documents are organized and stored on SharePoint, the intelligent search functionality built into the platform will allow employees to quickly find the information they need for whatever informed decision they need to make at any given moment. They feel more productive and empowered and the organization feels more structured and efficient.
Automated Workflows and Approvals
Any workflow or procedure that has a series of events, activities, and/or approvals that need to occur in a set order or include an assigned group of people can be configured and automated in SharePoint. Routing of content through different departments for feedback or signatures becomes a clean and transparent business process instead of a haphazard nightmare with no clarity as to where things are or who is holding up the progress. These workflows include the ability to assign tasks in the process, send email alerts, notifications, and reminders to participants that need to provide feedback or approval as well as to those who may be overseeing the workflow. Final publishing approvals, once a file has been completed, and limitations on future revisions, can also be configured in these fully customizable workflows.
How do you get started?
Fortunately, if you’re already using Office 365, SharePoint is embedded in your organization. It’s an invaluable toolkit, just waiting for you to open it up and begin discovering how to structure it and begin rolling it out through your organization. Start small and expand as you become more comfortable and confident.
If you want to learn, give us 45 minutes and join our webinar, A Quick Start to SharePoint Utilization on Wednesday, September 25th, at 11am EST.
We’ll highlight all the key benefits, show you a smart path to migration and implementation, and brief you on how quickly you can have your organization up and running with SharePoint.