Many companies are often using outdated legacy systems to share, organize and edit their files. This can lead to suboptimal productivity, and it should be rectified by using newer technologies such as SharePoint. SharePoint is meant to upgrade the document management system of your company, allowing you to take advantage of next generation features.
So how does it work? SharePoint allows your employees to deploy their own website, where they can store, access, organize and share business documents using both desktop and mobile devices. In this article, we’re going to cover some of the benefits of using SharePoint for your business, and make the case for why it is a wise investment for companies of all sizes.
Quick introduction to SharePoint
For businesses that are spread across multiple locations, it is essential to have a system in place that allows employees to instantly access and share important documents and business intelligence. MS SharePoint is designed to allow authorized employees to open, share, review and edit these documents from any location that has an internet connection. This will allow your office staff and remote personnel to freely communicate by simply using a web browser.
At first glance, this software sounds very similar to Google Drive, but what sets it apart is a multitude of features that are designed specifically for business use. On the one hand, SharePoint is a shared file repository, but it can also work as an intranet, a blogging platform/message board, and a content management system. You also have two versions of the software – SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server, which we cover more in-depth on our blog.
Some of the features that will be available to your team once you set up a site in SharePoint include:
- Check-in/check-out for documents
- Integration with relevant Windows apps
- File versioning
In terms of practical applications, SharePoint can be used for any activity that connects people within your organization. This can include internal communications, project deliverables, sharing sales documents, direct communication, and pretty much any other activity that involves the communication of data instantaneously.
The benefits of using SharePoint
As a business owner, you are always looking to make investments in key infrastructure and ensure the maximum efficiency of your business operation. Here are some of the benefits of using SharePoint:
Better Data Management
Researchers have found that on average, your workers will spend around 28% of their workday reading and responding to emails. This translates to about 120 messages and two and a half hours every day for each employee. What this data shows is that your workforce is dealing with a massive amount of information simply from emails. If you add marketing reports, meeting minutes and customer support requests into the mix, the number gets even bigger.
Since there is only so much time in the day, taking in all this information and organizing it can become overwhelming. Even if one or two employees are up to the task, and they’ve set up a file system on their device which tracks all these documents, you still have the issue of sharing these documents with remote workers or workers that are not familiar with the way the documents are organized.
On top of that, data can be organized in so many ways. You have numerous projects, teams, formats and sizes, and trying to manage all this complexity takes a lot of time and effort. However, with SharePoint, a user can use precise data points to sort or peruse through a mountain of documents in a manner of seconds. With the cloud-based version of the software – SharePoint Online, your employees can do this from any location in the world.
On top of that, you do not have to rediscover best practices in order to take full advantage of this new system. SharePoint integrates seamlessly with all apps in the Microsoft Office Suite. This includes Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Excel, along with Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Unified Communications, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. SharePoint will also allow your team to configure back-end communications in order to customize the interaction between various systems.
Simpler Business Functions
Every business has numerous workflows that are designed to manage day to day activities which include routing documents for approval or publication, gathering feedback and signatures, and tracking tasks, projects and issues. Most of these activities are designed to initiate, manage and report on business functions. With SharePoint, these processes, activities and functions are automated thanks to several out-of-the-box workflow solutions. On top of that, your employees can integrate SharePoint with their existing client applications if they choose to do so, and continue applying the optimal workflows that are already in use.
Compliance with regulations and data security standards
Many industries have to deal with strict regulations and guidelines, from the IT sector, to the healthcare, financial and legal fields. These regulations are mostly centered around effective document control, with a focus on ensuring that only authorized users have access to confidential client and employee data.
With SharePoint you are able to change your security settings and configuration in order to comply with the standards set for your industry. You can also create auditing and storage policies, along with defining the process for when business records reach their expiration dates. Naturally, this helps you comply with regulations much more effectively, while protecting and managing business-critical data.
Even businesses that have a less complex regulatory minefield to navigate during their day to day operations can benefit from the data access control features of SharePoint. With SharePoint, you can set permissions for various entities including:
- Web apps
Besides these security features, you can also set other procedural requirements from within SharePoint, requirements that will mandate how documents are handled before they are edited or after revisions have been made. Documents can also have “saved” states, to which they can be returned in case of an undesired change.
Better content delivery
You will likely have several employees behind the scenes who will handle your company’s content marketing strategy, from marketers to blog writers. As such, communication between these various team members is essential, in order to provide timely approvals, feedback and edits. Working with disparate folders in this situation can make it very hard to have proper content control in place, and it can be hard to determine who worked with a document, how many reviews it has gone through, and if the current version of the document is the latest one.
SharePoint can help streamline and optimize content delivery in several ways. To start, submitting content for approval can be done in seconds. You can also schedule content ahead of time, and set a date for when it goes live on your blog, or on your intranet. For companies that provide multilingual content, SharePoint provides library templates that are designed to link and help users navigate the original document and its translations easily.
A higher degree of collaboration
Even if your team consists of a handful of employees, it is still very important that they communicate and collaborate effectively. Without the proper resources that can facilitate these processes, it’s easy for the team to run into organizational problems, especially when it comes to document control. Let’s say that employee A creates a document and employee B has to review it. However, employee A realizes that he needs to make a few changes after he sent the document for review, and sends the document further down the pipeline without letting employee B know. Soon enough, you will have several versions of the document circulating through your network, and people are confused as to which is the final version.
With SharePoint’s version control feature, you can track every edit made in a document, and the software will also track when the change was made and by whom. On top of that, the document is only accessible by one person at a time, in order to prevent duplication. Updates and files can be shared in real-time, increasing efficiency and your team’s ability to cooperate.
Think about how much time is wasted each week searching through archives in order to find a document. Whether we’re talking about file cabinets, or computer folders, the number of hours that have to be spent perusing large document hubs can be better spent elsewhere during a busy workday.
However, when you have all your documents centralized on SharePoint, finding the file you are looking for is a few clicks away. You and your team no longer have to go on a seemingly endless goose chase in order to find essential documents. SharePoint allows you to organize each site to only contain the folders that you need, making it easier to find the information you are looking for when you have to make a fast business decision. Employees can also benefit from this feature, because it allows them to quickly find the data they need, and spend more of their time on other important responsibilities.
Centralized management and administration
The person in charge of managing the company’s SharePoint solution will likely have to make a few changes to the configuration over time. Since SharePoint is a giant platform, you’d expect that such changes would take a considerable amount of time and effort. However, the software is equipped with an administration console that centralizes relevant functions, allowing your team to make any changes from a single location.
On the administration console, it is very easy to access, update or monitor data such as:
- General settings
- System settings
- SharePoint farms
- Software management features
With the console you can effectively control the entire platform, regardless of its size and spread.
The SharePoint platform is very robust, and it contains pretty much all of the features that you will need. However, your particular business may require specialized functions in order to operate effectively. In this situation, you can take advantage of SharePoint’s “extensibility” and develop custom apps that can be connected to the software. This means that you will be able to develop new tools as you use the software, allowing you to fully unleash your business’ potential.
Minimal development work needed
Successful businesses stay ahead of the curve as new trends and technologies emerge. Often, you will find yourself developing advanced new business solutions in order to meet the needs of your customers. However, this also often means that you have to rely on coding and complex development work. This is not the case with SharePoint.
SharePoint’s tools and features have been designed to make software development easy, even if you do not have a degree in computer science. Whether we’re talking about building websites from scratch, making changes to existing ones, or creating online tools for your team, SharePoint provides you with the means to do so without any computer programming skills.
Identifying skill sets
When you are part of a large enterprise that has several satellite offices working on different tasks, it can be difficult to keep track of the unique skill sets and responsibilities of each employee. If you need someone with specialized knowledge in a certain area, who do you get in touch with? For small businesses this is not an issue, but when you are part of an enterprise with one hundred or more employees, it can be quite difficult to find the right person.
SharePoint solves this issue by allowing you to create organizational charts. These charts allow you to create a visual representation of your team and to understand everybody’s role in the bigger picture. Employee profiles in these charts contain both the role and availability of each team member, so all the information you need is just one click away.
Using SharePoint to grow and streamline your business
SharePoint has proven itself on the market, with numerous Fortune 500 companies using it for their collaboration and document control solution. If you would like to leverage SharePoint for your company, we at Alcero can help you out. For any questions regarding SharePoint, or if you would like a free consultation on how to best implement it for your business, contact us today at 514-316-5064 or through our website.