Don’t be burdened! 7 reasons why SharePoint should be embraced

How many times have you wanted to throw your computer out of the window? How many times have you stared blankly at your screen and thought “Where are my files?? Or, “This isn’t the right version of my document??!?” …or worse….

“I absolutely hate SharePoint it’s awful, why the hell do we even have this rubbish??!!”

Although we are SharePoint Consultants (and pretty brilliant ones at that), we haven’t drunk the Microsoft Kool-Aid. This is a point of pride for us – we know where SharePoint fits, and as just as important, we know where it doesn’t!

In our many, many years of helping clients with their existing SharePoint environments, we have seen some, frankly, appalling solutions ‘built’ on SharePoint. In these cases, we’re there to act as a sort of ‘SharePoint Hospital’ – a last chance saloon for the client’s system before a) a blood vessel bursts in someone’s head, or b) they dump the system and adopt something else.

If you’re wondering where SharePoint ought to fit into your organisation, here are 7 top reasons why you should embrace it:

1) Reporting

The ability to confidently interpret relevant data and base decisions on that information is the lifeblood of business execution.

When coupled with other tools in the Microsoft world (making up the Microsoft BI stack), SharePoint can easily go toe to toe with the mature BI systems of the world, such as Cognos, SAP, etc. And, with the right reporting process and tools in place, regardless of whether your SharePoint environment is on premises or in the cloud, you can:

  • Report on data across your estate and surface it in SharePoint
  • Ask questions of your data, rather than spending time searching for it
  • Get instant and dynamic updates on any device at any time
  • Gain business insight from your data sources
  • Take full control of your data

2) Document management

SharePoint is easily overlooked when it comes to records management. It can identify, archive, classify, preserve and destroy records in a sophisticated way – and you may already have access to it too. The records management functionality is ready and waiting for you in SharePoint. It’s very much an ‘out of the box’ product, so all you need to do is start using it! SharePoint comes packaged in with every Office 365 plan, so if you have a subscription, you are ready to go.

Based in the Cloud, it makes collaboration so much easier. However, that’s not to say that it means your records management becomes a free for all when it comes down to access. SharePoint takes permissions seriously, so it’s very easy for you to make sure your records are well-governed as well as secure.

Because of the sheer number of things SharePoint can do, it’s important to know you’re doing things correctly; and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin. The following guide has been written to illustrate the best practices of how to manage records through SharePoint. The platform may be flexible, but you still need a stable infrastructure in place to ensure it works to your advantage.

3) Intranets

Choosing the right platform for your intranet is obviously going to be a part of your intranet planning! Microsoft SharePoint has evolved a great deal over the last number of years. It’s a solution you may have explored previously, but perhaps it wasn’t for you then. We’d love to change your mind on this.

Low cost

SharePoint is available if you have access to Office 365. So, if you already use Office 365, you can get started with SharePoint and not have to worry about spending money on a dedicated, complex Intranet service.

Branding and design are sorted

An Intranet is effectively a website. And with many websites, lots of cost and resource go on the design. One of the wonderful things with SharePoint is that you can design your Intranet exactly to the requirements of your brand without needing to shell out money and other resources on extra designing. If you already have an established brand design, you can customise your Intranet to look exactly how you like it. It won’t look like a SharePoint site (unless you want it to!)

It has an internal, intelligent search engine built in

When it comes to data discovery, SharePoint’s search functionality is second to none. Many companies have files and data scattered about and won’t always be as organised as they’d like. If you’re struggling to find a company policy for example, simply use SharePoint’s search to get what you’re after.

4) Cloud tech mixing with on-premises

We have helped many clients on their journey to the cloud and we know how difficult it is educating business heads on the safety of information held in the cloud. SharePoint Online (i.e., part of Office 365) can open up a great many advantages. If however you’re not happy with the idea of having all of your data reside in the cloud, did you know you could have both? If moving to the cloud seems too much of a change for your company, you can always opt for a hybrid method. This means you can retain parts of SharePoint on-premises and move other parts to the cloud. This is especially useful if you want to take more control of where your sensitive information is stored.

5) Collaboration

Because of the Cloud-based functionality, it’s very easy to have several people collaborate on the same system simultaneously. SharePoint is a hugely collaborative platform, and is built with multiple users in mind. Some companies may have quite large HR departments, or departments that need access to the same software (e.g. finance and HR needing the same level of access to holiday/payroll information). Many departments can’t work well if they’re not able to overlap from time to time – if they do overlap, SharePoint’s cooperative ability can help with this. You have the ability to collaborate on a vast array of documents, and users can access and edit these documents at the same time to save the common problem of email tennis.

6) Security/Permissions/ Data management

The above collaboration features sound great when it comes to enabling productivity in your organisation; however, they come with substantial risks too. It can be as simple as sharing a link to a document that wasn’t meant for the recipient, or allowing someone to co-author a document that they weren’t supposed to have access to. This is how data breaches start, and unless you have stringent policies and procedures, your data isn’t 100% safe and secure. Luckily, you can flexibly administer a level of control to your system; setting permissions and access abilities. If you’re an administrator or owner of a library, list, or survey, you can change permissions to let the right people access the data they need data while restricting others.

If you’re concerned about your environment’s security then remember, you have control! Tips we’d suggest are:

  • Have rules around access
  • Ensure security roles are defined
  • Use the right level of permissions
  • Use the ‘share’ function in SP with caution
  • Ensure you have an admin at Site level
  • If you have users using their own devices to access SP then enforce a ‘lock device’ policy

7) It can be inexpensive

What we’d say:

SharePoint, or any large business-orientated platform can seem like it has an inflated cost associated with it – and it’s a shame when we see a company that’s unhappy with what could be an extremely operational-efficiency driving system. Especially given the types of pricing structures based around cloud-accessible systems.

What we’d ask next:

SharePoint can definitely come across as more expensive than it should when it’s not being used properly. After all, you’ve spent money implementing a new platform and you’re not getting anything back – that really puts salt in the wound. However, it’s very possible to turn this around and encourage a SharePoint ‘revamp’ in your business. This includes branding, user training, support and more.

Who is using SharePoint? Have you defined ‘Roles’ for users? Who needs what permissions? This is initially about governance (the rules you set around your information) and then our next question is about how you structure your data – so metadata, site collections, etc.

Whether SharePoint was implemented in-house or by a third party, it’s important to know if anything has been customised, developed or remaining as an out of the box feature. Because SharePoint can be set-up ‘vanilla-style’ (i.e., with little configuration), it’s tempting to set it up quickly without going through the business problems you wanted to address in the first place. During development and implementation, issues can snowball and before you know it you’ve ended up with a completely different ‘solution’ to what you envisioned when you signed off the budget for the project. Stick to your guns when it comes to implementing and always make sure that the problems that are costing you the most money and have the most risk are being addressed first.

We see SharePoint as a toolkit that can empower organisations to drive efficiency and improve collaboration. When we hear that people “hate” SharePoint, we think it’s not the platform they hate, but more likely the constraints that have been built in through poor planning, no planning and no governance.

If you’d like to know more, read our guide here designed for the Haters of SharePoint!