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What is SharePoint and how can it help your business?

In existence since 2001, some businesses are just discovering the benefits that Microsoft SharePoint can bring to their operations.

What is SharePoint?

Microsoft SharePoint is an intranet solution that allows businesses to create systems for the storing and sharing of files and content. A SharePoint instance can be imagined as half file manager and half website, with content internally facing to an organisation (though there are options to allow some external access to intranets).

SharePoint makes for an excellent and relatively inexpensive intranet solution thanks to it’s broad functionality. Features include:

  • Content limited by audience – SharePoint can be setup with varying permission levels for different users. This makes it useful for companies looking to store all materials in one location without all staff having the same access to documents (eg. sensitive materials such as HR records). It also means that content on intranet pages can be tailored or limited to job role: sales might only see the latest marketing updates, while accounts departments see news on invoicing.
  • Flowcharts – Using programs such as Microsoft Visio, companies can host and display company structure diagrams within SharePoint. In larger organisations, this can help inform staff about who to speak with in other departments, offices or companies when they need assistance.
  • Video – The ability to host and share video within SharePoint make it perfect for company updates, particularly if staff are spread across multiple offices. A company may choose to store video updates from its CEO on their SharePoint homepage, show any corporate social responsibility projects it may be involved in, or store relevant videos that could be useful for activities such as sales pitches.
  • On device – Most SharePoint setups allow for users to access content from mobile devices, meaning staff can get documents and files on the go from whatever device they have available.
  • External websites – Along with intranets, SharePoint can also be used for extranets accessible from outside an organisation (password protected as necessary). This makes SharePoint very useful for purposes such as recruitment, where new employees about to join a company can access on-boarding documents to get them up to speed with company procedures.
  • Appearance – With an inbuilt WYSIWYG editor, businesses can customise SharePoint to display necessary information on pages, such as images carousels, videos or graphs linked to Dynamics 365. Organisations can also tailor the appearance of SharePoint to match company brand, which is important should SharePoint be used as an extranet.

Changing times, changing use

With SharePoint Online now included with some Microsoft Office 365 licences, some organisations have found they’ve got the option to use SharePoint at no extra cost. As a result, there has been a rise in businesses choosing to use SharePoint as a simplified file server and document manager.

SharePoint offers organisations 1TB of storage as part of enabled licences, making it a free solution for companies to store files in a way that’s easily accessible way. This makes perfect sense for many companies, and can be the start point from which they develop more in-depth intranets in time.

There are a few teething problems with this approach however. While SharePoint Online may seem an ideal file server, companies using it this way are encountering issues when multiple users try to edit documents at the same time. Equally, when a user takes a document offline, edits it, then tries to put it online again, there can be conflicts when another user has made changes to the same document online.

The latest OneDrive client update, notably through ‘Files On-Demand’ has, to a degree, addressed these problems. Microsoft Server 2019 (out in a few months) promises to address the issue as well.

Developing a SharePoint intranet right for your organisation

If you’re considering SharePoint as either an intranet or file manager solution, Akita can provide guidance and consultancy on how to structure your instance. Alternatively, we can undertake and manage your whole SharePoint project, ensuring that you get the functionality you want without any the potential problems.

You can see more information on our SharePoint offering here. To have a conversation about your requirements and how Sharepoint can be tailored to your needs, please get in touch.

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