Microsoft SharePoint is the world’s most popular collaboration and document management system

SharePoint helps people work together by creating websites containing collaboration and storage tools. The increasing prevalence of remote working has made SharePoint an even more essential platform within any digital working environment, providing secure access to sites, documents, templates and collaboration interfaces from any device, anywhere.

SharePoint uses the concept of lists to store data with columns and data types. It’s a shared file repository and web content management system and much more.

SharePoint is the engine room of several other Microsoft services. Every time you share a file in Teams – it’s in SharePoint.

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Over 85% of Fortune 500 companies use SharePoint

SharePoint has four main applications:

1. Content creation and storage

The most common application for SharePoint is creating, sharing and reusing information, hosting videos, images, designs, flow charts, web pages, blogs and Wikis as well as traditional Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents. SharePoint has numerous features to help organise and manage content using libraries, lists, metadata, records management and retention policies.

Integration with familiar Microsoft 365 tools – Word, Excel and PowerPoint – lets you start co-authoring a document on one device and pick up where you left off on another with a variety of tools to annotate, highlight and comment. Co-authoring is possible without emailing back and forth, obscure file names and version confusion. SharePoint Search allows filtering, sorting, searching and different views to locate the right document fast.

2. Content publication and sharing

The release of SharePoint Modern made creating clear, mobile-optimised content incredibly easy. Publishers of corporate communications such as HR and Internal Communications departments can now create a page from one or more central templates and publish it within minutes, incorporating useful web parts like maps, videos, slide shows and tables. Automated content submission and approval processes save time and reduce confusion.

One significant application is the creation of SharePoint intranets – one single source of truth for policies and procedures, events, templates, social updates and company news plus useful tools and applications to boost productivity.

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3. Collaboration

Starting a new project? You could hold a kick-off meeting, create a plan, email it to everyone and have them update their sections for you to collate into one document then email back out with all the accompanying inbox crowding and version control nightmares.

Or you could create a Team Site in SharePoint containing the relevant project information, invite the project team to access it and co-author the plan via Teams. The SharePoint team site would hold one up-to-date version accessed by everyone.

4. Workflows

Lastly, SharePoint allows businesses to streamline and automate internal processes via workflows. Workflows can be used to consistently manage common business processes by attaching business logic to documents or items in a SharePoint list or library. This increases the consistency and accuracy of processes typically completed manually via forms and paperwork. Examples include the creation and management of policies and contracts, HR requirements such as onboarding and offboarding staff, project approvals or sales and client activities.

While the workflow is in progress, the workflow owner and participants can see which participants have completed their tasks and will receive reminders when they have actions required or the process is complete.

SHAREPOINT CHALLENGES

Many organisations, particularly those with minimal SharePoint or IT resources, find it difficult to implement SharePoint properly. Unfortunately, a badly designed and implemented
SharePoint solution can cost thousands of hours of productivity.

Without an experienced consultant to talk to users, analyse business processes, understand document management requirements and organisational collaboration scenarios, your SharePoint deployment will not solve problems and may indeed create more, as users
struggle to locate documents, fail to successfully add metadata and maintain unnecessary Team Sites.

High levels of content redundancy and a lack of data lifecycle management mean SharePoint has to wade through a lot of stuff to try and deliver the content you are looking for. SharePoint also does not have the search engine luxury of rewarding good content and penalising
bad – a decent document management policy and proper search set-up are crucial for the health of your platform.

Leveraging SharePoint effectively requires specialist knowledge.

WebVine provide SharePoint consulting services to help you improve productivity, reduce compliance risk and be more profitable and competitive.

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SHAREPOINT INTRANETS: STILL RELEVANT IN THE AGE OF TEAMS?

We can post messages, share files, record meetings and manage work with Planner in Teams… do we even need a SharePoint intranet? Can’t Teams do everything?

SHAREPOINT IS HERE TO STAY. GET ON BOARD.

Microsoft SharePoint is complicated and not immediately easy to understand. Some of us have had negative experiences in the past with poorly planned, deployed and managed enterprise SharePoint installations, particularly intranets. But Microsoft believes in SharePoint and have invested considerable resources developing and releasing enhancements as well as the ongoing integration with the rest of the Microsoft 365 environment. There are so many business applications for SharePoint that we could never hope to cover them all. Used well, SharePoint can be a game changer, helping organisations with:

1. Intranets and Extranets
2. Content Management & Publishing
3. Document Management
4. Knowledge Sharing & Collaboration
5. Automated Workflows and Reporting
6. Surfacing Information with Effective Search

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