When describing SharePoint, many people will likely describe a robust file management system, and with good reason. The software began as a file sharing tool when it was initially released in 2001, but if organizations are using it for document management only, then they’re seriously missing out on ways they can optimize their business processes.
Many companies that have already invested in SharePoint fail to utilize it as fully as they can. As a collaboration platform, SharePoint can be used to enhance an organization’s ability to coordinate its many business units, which means a more productive workforce and improved business performance.
But making promises on behalf of SharePoint doesn’t explain how a business leader can actually implement its function. For a full explanation of the value businesses can realize with SharePoint, check out the interview below. However, here are a few key takeaways from the interview discussing how SharePoint can be applied in an organization:
The most obvious application of SharePoint is the one that everyone’s probably familiar with: document management.
For many years, SharePoint has provided an integrated document management interface that emulates the file explorer one finds on their computer. This basic function enables businesses to quickly access and edit documents using familiar tools (Word, Excel, File Explorer) without creating multiple copies of documents in file share or local computer resource.
Additional cost savings come from simplifying file management overall. Rather than relying on employees to manage their own copies of changes, SharePoint offers version control and “check-in, check-out” functionality. This prevents employees from overwriting changes others are making and provides the capability for admins to restore previous versions if something is inadvertently changed.
One additional feature that SharePoint offers has to do with the creation of metadata attached to the document. At a basic level, every word processing system creates metadata related to the title of the document (for example its date of creation and the last time it was edited). SharePoint enables organizations to attach business contextual metadata, like department, employee, approver, and more as it relates to the needs of the organization. This makes finding documents easier for those who did not create and store the initial document.
SharePoint is designed to facilitate collaboration, but what may not be immediately obvious is it can be deployed to create intranet portals for organizations.
Businesses often measure success in relation to their ability to grow continuously, but with growth comes fresh challenges around maintaining a shared understanding of policies, procedures, and a corporate culture. Often, businesses develop corporate knowledge repositories, using file shares and e-mail folders. These repositories are easy to deploy, and easy to use, but are highly dependent on a detailed knowledge for server and folder structures. They are also stand alone in nature, independent of the organization’s deployed technology stack. SharePoint enables organizations to expedite the management of their intranet extending other parts of the organization’s technology solutions. If a company already utilizes Microsoft 365, then SharePoint could be used to centralize and publish knowledge from multiple business stakeholders, enabling companies to reduce time and expense to train teams on existing or updated policies and procedures.
In addition to centralizing knowledge about policies and procedures for an organization, SharePoint can be used in conjunction with Power Automate to optimize workflows by separating out the work process from the people who need to do it.
Organizations often rely on ad hoc workflows to achieve their goals, but this can lead to significant inefficiencies. In an ad hoc workflow, the employees participating in the process are responsible for moving it through, which often relies on an exchange of emails and attachments to get anything done. In theory, this may work, but in practice, it frequently gets derailed because ad hoc workflows rely on everyone being knowledgeable about the workflow’s design (who is next in the process and under what circumstances exception routing is needed.)
SharePoint can eliminate manual email exchanges and utilize rules set by the business to manage workflows independent of the participants knowledge of the process. These features can be applied to situations of varying complexity, which means that handling purchase orders (for example) can easily be routed to the individuals in the company with the proper authority based the purchase value, or its purpose. If that approval needs to happen from multiple people, then SharePoint can easily deploy parallel approval requests simultaneously.
SharePoint has a proven history as a tool to improve file management, but it’s evolved over time to enable organizations to optimize and streamline their operations. When coupled with the rest of Microsoft’s Power Platform tools, SharePoint can easily automate many repetitive tasks that divert employees from efficiently delivering value added activities.
Of course, even if it’s used solely as a file management system or intranet portal, SharePoint can be a robust tool to optimize any organization’s capabilities. Hammer Dev has helped many organizations implement SharePoint as the basis of their organization’s intranet portal and has years of experience coordinating with internal teams to ensure their intranet portal is as functional as needed for the client’s business.
Still have questions about how SharePoint can help your business? Visit our Contact Us page to set up a time to talk.