What Can SharePoint Do for Your Business?
This is the sixth and final post in our “Journey to SharePoint 2019” blog series! This series was specifically designed to showcase SharePoint's progression through the years, from the humble beginnings of Microsoft's flagship collaboration platform all the way to SP 2019.
By going through each post in this series, you will be better prepared to decide which SharePoint version best supports the success of your business and increases the productivity of your team, as well as how to plan your migration there.
The previous posts of the series covered:
- The Journey to SP 2019: Lessons Learned from the Start
- SharePoint Then and Now: A Look at the Decade-Long Evolution
- What to Expect from SharePoint 2019
- What the Business Should Think About When Migrating to SharePoint 2019
- Maximizing Collaboration with the Right Balance of Office 365 and SharePoint
Is SharePoint Just a Document Repository?
I meet so many people who think that SharePoint is purely used for document storage. So, before I share some business case examples, I want to showcase all of the controls and features that SharePoint has out-of-the-box, proving that it’s so much more than just a document storage solution.
With options like folders, metadata, and powerful search and navigation functionalities, users can discover content easier than ever before. Built-in document and record management tools add even more value to this so-called “storage solution.”
Fig 1: Folders vs . Metadata
The following controls and features are available out-of-the-box to help you further manage content:
Depending on the version you’re using ( e.g. 2010, 2013, 2016), SharePoint keeps several electronic versions of documents and items. SharePoint Online currently keeps 500 versions automatically, but this can be manually setup and configured on any of the SharePoint versions.
These document and item versions can be viewed and restored at any time . Versions also provide a perfect audit control of who’s edited content and when:
Fig 2: Versions on Documents
On any of the lists or libraries, alerts can be setup to notify you of changes when they happen:
Fig 3: Setup an Alert on a library
Views can be written to display content in different ways. As we all search for and discover content differently, this really helps with user adoption. When metadata is used, views can be written to group by properties and even filter by them:
Fig 4: Views created with Metadata
Default permission levels in SharePoint allow for Read and Edit rights. Permissi ons can be applied on Site, App, and Item levels.
On lists you can also specify whether users can see or edit each other’s items. For example, custom permission levels can be created to allow users to contribute, but be unable to delete.
Fig 5: Permission levels
SharePoint keeps items deleted in a Recycle Bin. Depending on your version of SharePoint, these items can be restored from the Recycle Bin within 30 to 90 days after deletion:
Fig 6: SharePoint Recycle Bin
Check in / Check out
This can be enabled on libraries where multiple users might want to edit the same document at the same time. When check in / check out is enabled, a user needs to check a document out before editing.
Should another user want to edit the document, the system will notify them that the document is checked out by someone else, and ask them if they wish to be notified as soon as the document is checked back in.
Prevent duplication of documents via attachments on emails by sharing documents with links (URLs):
Fig 7: Send links to documents via emails
Set up approvals on libraries to manage who can see draft (pending) versions of documents:
Fig 8: Approvals on Items
What Other Valuable Uses Are There for SharePoint in Your Business?
By now , I’m sure you’ll agree that SharePoint is not just a replacement for your File Share.
Organizations around the world utilize SharePoint to address a number of different business challenges. Let’s take a look at how SharePoint can help you improve your current business processes and digitally transform your business.
Company Intranet s
Build beautiful Intranets with SharePoint , whether on-premises or with the new Communication templates in SharePoint Online. Check out our blog, “Understanding SharePoint Communication Sites, Newsfeed, and Mobile Apps,” as well as “How to Build Your Intranet with SharePoint Communcation Sites in 10 Sites" for more information.
Promote news articles & announcements, store policies and procedures, make training material available, and share information about services and business units in your business. Intranets are not just about communicating with employees; it should also be the induction and training hub for your organization.
Sh arePoint provides the perfect go-to place for your employees to find what they need and when they need it.
Project Management & Team Collaboration
SharePoint provides Team Site templates that can be used for collaboration in projects and departments. It serves as a place to store documents and pictures, hold discussions, share news, provide links, update calendars & task lists, and more.
With Office 365 , you also have access to Microsoft Teams, which also has a SharePoint Team Site behind it:
Fig 9: SharePoint Team Site
Fig 10: Apps on SharePoint Team Sites
Compliance & Regulatory Requirements
SharePoint is the perfect platform for managing your compliance requirements.
For example, ISO 9000 stipulates that documents should be controlled, and that ownership and revision statuses need to be identified. Most companies manage these in separate Excel spreadsheets, which normally goes out of sync with the actual library or folder where the documents are stored.
By adding metadata columns in the SharePoint library, you can store the documents and address all the compliance needs mentioned above —and more. As previously mentioned, approvals, revisions, permissions, and alerts are used to add to the security, transparency, and auditability of these environments.
Fig 11: Controlled Documents in SharePoint
Replace Excel Spreadsheets with SharePoint Lists
Many processes in companies are managed in Excel spreadsheets . Convert these to SharePoint custom lists and get more value from the work you’re doing already.
Alerts, version history , and views can help you manage data better and save time by surfacing exceptions and bringing this to your attention.
Fig 12: Custom List vs Excel Spreadsheet
Use SharePoint Metadata for Reporting
If you’re storing the document somewhere already, why not add a field or two to help you with reporting?
In the example below, you’ll see a library for customer invoices. By adding metadata columns for amount and financial years, reporting is possible on groupings in the views .
Another example would be a library where monthly project reports are uploaded. Adding a column for Month, RAG Status , and Under / Over Budget gives you the ability to do summary reports without even opening the documents.
Fig 13: Using Metadata for Reporting
Replace Manual Word and Excel Forms with SharePoint Lists
Replace your manual forms with electronic forms on SharePoint . This will remove unnecessary steps in your processes , as when users submit the forms (instead of attaching and mailing it), the process can start as it’s already logged.
Fig 14: Manu al Forms vs Electronic Forms
Recreate Written Procedures as SharePoint Pages
Instead of Word documents that are never used, consider replacing your written procedures with SharePoint pages. These are much easier to follow and can be linked to other processes and pages with ease.
Fig 15: Using SharePoint Pages for Processes
SharePoint has so much more to offer than most people realize, and it can be used to create solutions that are easier than you might think. It truly is the perfect environment for citizen developers to optimize and automate business processes. What do I mean by citizen developers? These are your business power users, those who understand the process well and have empathy for the frustrations of users.
With some guidance and SharePoint training, they will be able to build solutions to solve business issues, save time and money , and create a more efficient environment for employees, which as we know, lead to happy employees. I have built many Intranets & solutions on SharePoint, without being a developer.
It’s time to take a step back and ask yourself , “Is my company using SharePoint to its full potential? How can we enable our power users to achieve more with SharePoint?”
And if you’re not using SharePoint yet, why not?
Tracy is a Microsoft MVP and an energetic, hyperactive adrenaline junkie who sees challenges and issues as opportunities and thrives on improving processes, environments and the general quality of life. Her broad knowledge about IT and Business gives her the ability to communicate on both levels and convey meaningful requirements and narrow the (ever present) gap between the two.