As mentioned in a previous post, Office 365 offers numerous benefits to businesses, including improved professionalism, productivity, and communication. One Microsoft service that is offered in most business Office 365 subscription plans (or as a standalone service) is SharePoint. SharePoint is often viewed as a complex platform due to its numerous features, but this all inclusive platform provides substantial benefits for all types of businesses and organizations.
In short, SharePoint is a platform that provides a space for data storage, document creation, communication, and collaboration. The capabilities to create, share, and manage content within SharePoint increase the efficiency and productivity of work projects through improved collaboration, better decision making, and communication. Organizations can deploy an on-premise SharePoint server, use the cloud-based service, or a hybrid of the two. SharePoint helps organizations manage challenges, reduce costs, encourage teamwork, and improve workplace efficiency. Like most applications and services offered with Office 365, SharePoint can be customized to fit the wants and needs of an organization to effectively promote productivity.
Features of SharePoint:
SharePoint has numerous features and tools that can be utilized by users to complete a wide variety of tasks. Here are a few features that SharePoint has to offer:
- Content Management
- File Storage
- Social Networking
- Intranet Portals/Team Sites
- Site Templates
- Extranets & External Sharing
- Advanced Search Functionality
- Varying privacy controls and permission levels
- Shareable Calendars
- Business Intelligence Solutions
- Discussion Boards
- Lists (event lists, meeting lists, task lists, etc.)
- Publishing Pages (SharePoint Online & SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise)
- SharePoint Site Analytics
- Business Connectivity Services (BCS)
- Wiki Page Library
- Advanced Data-Loss Prevention(DLP) Capabilities
- Numerous add-ins, extensions, and service applications, examples include:
- Report Builder
- Employee Directory
- Forms Builder
- Power BI Tiles for SharePoint
- Office 365 Timesheet
- Nintex Workflow
Examples of things that can be done with SharePoint:
There are arguably endless tasks that can be completed, simplified, and expedited through SharePoint. Below is a small list of things that you can do using SharePoint:
- Store, organize, manage, and access data and documents from any device
- Create a group calendar
- Make announcements
- Create a scorecard or report
- Create and edit a wiki page library
- Collaborate on documents & projects
- Integrate Power BI reports into SharePoint
- Brainstorm with a discussion board or team blog
- Work and collaborate with team members remotely
- Find information, resources or people with search
- Communicate effectively with teammates, employers, vendors, etc. with announcements, notifications, short news posts, and status changes
- Automate business processes
- Revisit old versions of a document with SharePoint’s versioning records
- Organize meetings and events
- Collect information from customers
- Track file activity and history
- Offer training materials to teams, clients, and partners with intranets and extranets
- Use business intelligence tools and applications within SharePoint to improve business operations, efficiency, and revenue
Benefits of SharePoint Utilization:
SharePoint includes a wide range of privacy controls and permission levels to allow for easier management of accessibility to data and documents. These privacy controls allow the administrator to control who can access what and adhere to compliance policies.
- Control cost & reduce risks associated with IT
With SharePoint, data can be managed and utilized effectively in a more cost efficient manner without sacrificing quality. By replacing multiple technological resources with an all-in-one solution, such as SharePoint, IT has the ability to streamline their services. This streamlining of IT increases overall productivity while also reducing costs.
- Centralized administration
Administrators are able to easily control the entire SharePoint service for an organization through the Central Administration Console. Managers and administrators are able to control application features, system settings, monitor activity, perform backups and restorations, and manage security settings all in the same location.
- Effortlessly collect information from customers
SharePoint provides organizations with the capacity to easily collect information from customers, partners, and vendors through electronic form building and information sharing.
Every organization and team runs a little bit differently than the next, and each team’s workspace should follow suit. SharePoint allows teams to apply specific tools and resources to their unique sets of skills to complete projects. SharePoint provides a space for users to develop tools not readily available in SharePoint with customizable applications, extensions, and add-ins. Administrators can customize SharePoint for an organization to follow the branding of that organization. Users can also individually customize their profiles to suit their wants and needs.
- Consolidation & Integration
SharePoint is offered by Microsoft with most business Office 365 subscription plans or as a standalone service. Even if a user accesses SharePoint through the standalone service, it can easily be integrated with other products, applications, tools, and services. For organizations that subscribe to an Office 365 plan, all organizational data and content can be accessed under a single platform, which can help reduce cost, training materials, and time. SharePoint also has the potential to work seamlessly with other technologies and services.
SharePoint allows for consolidation of data and content for an organization. Whether the organization deploys an on-premise SharePoint server or uses the cloud-based service, most or all data can be consolidated onto this single platform. This reduces costs for the organization, improves efficiency in the workplace, and provides safety and security of all content.
- Ease of use
Most individuals are already familiar with Microsoft applications and services, which allows for easy adoption of SharePoint. The all-in-one platform decreases resources needed to train individuals that are new to Microsoft or SharePoint. Microsoft also offers numerous programs and resources to help users with upgrades, customization, and general learning of SharePoint.
- Mobility & Accessibility
Today’s digital age requires organizations to adapt a mobile approach to the everyday workplace. SharePoint provides users with a convenient platform that allows for simple, but controlled access to data and information. With content all in one place, users can access files and work on projects anywhere, from any device. When users are without internet connection, files can be synced to a desktop and worked on offline. SharePoint is also compatible with mobile devices, has optimizable mobile browser view, and offers push notifications for windows phones.
- Effectively meet regulatory requirements
With customizable security and user settings, administrators can fix settings to meet the regulatory requirements of the organization. Administrators can specify security settings, storage policies, auditing policies, and set up automated expiration actions for business records. These settings and controls ensure that sensitive information is managed effectively.
- Discovery & Connection
Search in SharePoint allows individuals in an organization to discover relevant information and connect with other individuals. With organizational content all in one place, users can conveniently assess whatever documents and files they need within SharePoint. Typically, organizations create a large volume of content, utilizing this content can be a huge resource for future projects.
Search in Sharepoint allows individuals to be discovered by their expertise, current and past project experiences, education, availability, and contact information. Discovery of relevant individuals facilitates sharing of information, guidance and advice for various tasks, and greater collaboration. This tool is especially helpful in large organizations with numerous employees.
The collaboration capabilities of SharePoint are a huge asset for many organizations, especially organizations that work on team projects or need a mobile workspace. SharePoint allows information to flow freely throughout an organization, connects colleagues, provides a central place for data and content, and allows multiple individuals to simultaneously work on a task or project.
SharePoint offers numerous tools and resources for team members to stay informed and connected. SharePoint’s intranet platform allows users to store resources in a centralized location that are accessible by all individuals involved. This provides opportunities to keep everyone in an organization on the same page. With SharePoint’s intranet portals, users can create sites for projects and meetings, send announcements, organize task lists and timelines, assign roles and deadlines for tasks, and publish shareable content.
- Efficiently create, manage, and re-purpose content
SharePoint makes creating, managing, and re-purposing content a painless process for users. The collaboration capabilities, combined with the all-in-one platform allows users to access resources needed to create new content or revise old documents and projects. Authors can create content, store it within SharePoint in an organized manner, share it with other individuals, or post it to an intranet site. SharePoint even has the ability to manage content from multiple languages. For safekeeping, SharePoint versions documents and records all activity on files, allowing users to access previous versions, so nothing gets accidentally left behind.
- Social networking
Individual profiles of users supports social networking within an organization. With the ability to search and discover other people, users can easily connect with fellow team members. This promotes the development of a connected team environment within the workplace. Social connection in the workplace allows individuals to stay up-to-date with current activities, discussions, and projects.
- Development of a business identity
A well connected team environment, along with ample collaboration opportunities helps establish a clear business identity. Organization members that are well informed, engaged, and connected to and within a team develop a sense of belonging and loyalty. Team Members can stay in tune with the business identity with the help of SharePoint tools and activities like broadcasted announcements, updates, alerts, news, etc. Overall, SharePoint works to develop a business community among team members that share the vision of the organization.
- Facilitate employee engagement
With the combined benefits of easy collaboration, accessible data and content, discovery and connection, social networking, and development of a clear business identity, SharePoint helps produce an engaging work environment.
- Scalable infrastructure
The customizable platform that SharePoint offers benefits organizations that need a scalable infrastructure. Administrators and team members can scale SharePoint to whatever extent is necessary for efficient business operations.
- Automation of business processes
Various tasks can be automated within SharePoint. Just to name a few, users can automate alerts, data exchange, and file synchronization. Automation of various tasks permits employees to focus time and energy on more complex tasks, increasing overall productivity and work efficiency.
- Productive workflow
One simple way that users can automate business processes is through SharePoint’s built in workflows. SharePoint workflows are built in applications that allow for the automation of day-to-day activities of an organization. These workflows work similarly to a flowchart, and specific tasks can be designated to different individuals along the timeline of an activity or project. This feature can help individuals complete projects and activities in an efficient, organized manner. These workflows can also be advanced with add-ins such as Nintex workflows.
- Simplification of business procedures and activities
With organizational content all in one place, advanced collaboration opportunities, and the ability to automate processes, SharePoint simplifies procedures and activities for businesses. SharePoint also simplifies the process of accessing data and resources for both employees and customers.
- Better decision making
SharePoint allows for creation of interactive business intelligence (BI) portals that reveal critical business information. With easy, simple access to business data, content, and people, administrators and executives can make better, more informed business decisions. Better business decision making yields actionable results and attainable business objectives.
- Increase work productivity & efficiency
All of the features, uses, and benefits of SharePoint already mentioned contribute to a productive and efficient workspace. SharePoint is simply one of the best ways to manage and distribute information throughout an organization. It can also be used as a central document repository that is secured and searchable, as well as a project management tool to keep everyone connected and on the same page.
Features, uses, and benefits of SharePoint showcase it as a valuable resource for organizations of all sizes and industries. SharePoint helps organizations create a dynamic and efficient workspace that stimulates productivity, communication, and collaboration. If you have any questions regarding SharePoint or Office 365 utilization for you or your organization, contact us today!