Microsoft Communication Sites: Are they ideal for your organisation?
Microsoft recently released SharePoint Communication Sites for Office 365, a feature which allows users to swiftly share information through the creation of visually attractive sites and intriguing content.
Communication Sites are visually fantastic
When Microsoft release new features they are usually well received and eager Microsoft users can’t wait to start using them. There are some great pros to the Communication Sites feature, and you might find that it’s perfect for your organisation. However, if you’re looking to build a site ASAP – you may want to hold fire before going ahead. Here are a few things you need to think about:
Communication Sites can be set up in a matter of minutes….but that should have a level of control!
1.Communication Sites work the way Microsoft want you to work, not the way your company wants to work
Communication sites are only available on the root level of your SharePoint environment. Which means, if you have taken the time (and you should have) to specifically design your SharePoint architecture to fit with your company’s requirements, then this all goes out the window with communication sites.
2. Your taxonomy may be ignored
Because Communication Sites are designed to be created by end-users, it is unlikely that they will include any of your existing taxonomy when they build their new site. This will mean that the information in the site becomes less “visible” to the rest of your organisation. Without the taxonomy, search will not surface the information as efficiently. This will take you back down the ugly road of data silos, and, of course, that defeats the object of why you’d be using Communication Sites in the first place!
3. Communications Sites are free–form
Communication Sites are incredibly dynamic. They’re quick to build, highly customisable and most of all they look great. They can display just the right amount of information you need. However, this is a bit of a double-edged sword.
If you’re in a big organisation, Communication Sites may not be what you’re after. One reason for this is because if you have a very specific structure to the rest of your sites (such as brand guidelines etc.) it can be difficult to replicate this structure in a consistent and professional way. Ultimately, you might feel a bit let down by the product and left wanting more.
If you’re a small company without an IT department (or a limited one), Communication Sites can be a huge help. The sites can take a matter of minutes to set up and they can be a flexible and useful thing when they’re ‘straight out of the box’.
At Business Agility, we view Communication Sites as a great tool for our small and even some medium-sized clients. If you have limited or no IT resources, this is the product for you. It’s easy to use and looks great. You can be up and running with dynamic, professional looking sites in no time.
However, for larger companies, who have greater amounts of data and therefore need to organise the data in a highly structured manner to ensure it can be searched for and discovered by the users who need it, Communication Sites will not add value. In fact, it will end up costing you in the long run because soon you will find that too much information has been siloed off into Communication Sites and you’ll end up investing to migrate that data back into your proper architecture.
Here’s some advice from us:
Don’t jump straight into Communication Sites – come up with a strategy, plan how it could be used and evaluate if that fits in your organisation. SharePoint, by its very nature, is the place to share and disseminate information. Remember, there are many, many different ways to conduct and manage that sharing!
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