As businesses look for new ways to collaborate and stay connected, Microsoft SharePoint has steadily grown in popularity over the past decade.
Today, over 80% of Fortune 500 companies use SharePoint. But its benefits are not limited to large companies. SharePoint offers small business inexpensive, robust, and flexible collaboration platform – letting small businesses and virtual offices compete without expensive real-estate.
For small and medium sized businesses both, Sharepoint is a vital collaboration tool worthy of close consideration. About 60% of Power Consulting’s clients, mostly small businesses, are using it today.
What makes SharePoint so popular with businesses of all sizes? Let’s have a closer look.
SharePoint a web-based secure file sharing and collaboration platform that integrates with Microsoft Office and 365. It is used by businesses to access, share, organize, and store company data from any device. It’s a great way to keep all your employees connected, no matter how distributed your workforce may be.
1. Simplified Company-Wide Collaboration
One of the most significant benefits of Microsoft SharePoint is simplified collaboration across your entire team. Users are greeted by shared home screens, folders and files, applications, company resources and popular links, based on business unit, or group or team membership.
SharePoint includes high-level integration with these applications, including web-based and desktop variants:
- One Note
- Microsoft Teams
- And more
Many business users use Sharepoint as a central file repository. Employees can use the centralized platform for document management and real-time collaboration from anywhere in the world.
Collaboration in SharePoint is simple and powerful. Documents stored on Sharepoint can be edited simultaneously by multiple users. Instead of sending versions of work back and forth through email (which is not secure), Sharepoint members edit the document together and no need to email a thing. Moreover this collaboration capability extends across all Microsoft Office apps. Sharepoint is perfectly suited to a work-from-home workforce. Even if home systems don’t have the Microsoft Office apps, they can access the apps through Sharepoint.
For example,at their weekly conference call, the L.A. and New York teams of a major marketing firm put their finishing touches on a PowerPoint presentation, in real time. They could be in Dayton or Dakar, all they need is a web browser and a login to access all the power of Sharepoint.
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2. Advanced Security Measures
Online security is a serious concern for modern businesses. If your information falls into the wrong hands, there may be substantial, if not fatal cost. That’s even small business today, if they are smart, have a cybersecurity budget.
Many small companies may have file servers in wiring closets or server rooms, and these servers have certain security risks. They are easily accessible to many people. And they exist in a network environment that may not be very secure. The small businesses firewalls and other network defenses cannot compare to the defenses of Amazon or Microsoft servers. In other words, to make your server as secure as the server hosted at Microsoft, will require a great deal of investment and probably cannot be achieved.
One of the major benefits of SharePoint online is that it can help prevent security issues.Instead of relying on risky emails or private on-site servers to share and store your information, your teams can collaborate entirely in a totally secure, encrypted environment. By increasingly driving company data through the collaboration environment, it becomes increasingly secure.
When you use Microsoft SharePoint, you can also monitor users to ensure that all security regulatory requirements are being met across your entire business.
If there is a breach, you’ll be able to quickly identify the breach source and mitigate the risks.
3. Customizable to your team needs
“Out of the box”, without any customization, SharePoint offers a web-based shared file system. But with a little exploration, planning, and help from your IT folks, Sharepoint becomes a “home page” for each team or business unit, easily customizable to their collaboration requirements.
Some customization can be achieved with the built-in Sharepoint tools. This is relatively quick and inexpensive, and for many companies, it is more than sufficient. For more customization and a very consistent look across your company’s entire Sharepoint site(s), you can leverage the shared templates available at https://lookbook.microsoft.com
Finally, for a completely customized Sharepoint environment, there are many independent SharePoint developers that can implement this for your company.
Based on group membership, SharePoint will present different shared resources and access to other groups, including shortcuts to frequently accessed SharePoint links. Rather than presenting all the files, folders and resources available to Account Managers (for example), Sharepoint lets you present only those key files and data needed to service a specific account. It might host only only the five or six relevant files (or templates) for client management – e.g., contracts, quotes, order history, etc.- rather than the thousands of files that exist on file servers, laptops, desktops, home systems, etc. Sharepoint narrows users’ focus on only the data that matters. It helps separate the signal from the noise and this “narrowing” of attention is a very important kind of customization.
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4. Return on Investment
Return on investment for changing to a SharePoint-centered collaboration environment must be measured in terms of business process efficiency. Like most IT infrastructure, SharePoint could be considered a cost, but it is actually an investment in business process improvement. In a short time, your company could be collaborating, with all apps and communications tools workin together, in a cloud platform much more secure than your office? A work environment that makes the office unnecessary? How much is that worth to a business? For many companies, it has been worth a great deal, but it may not be easy to measure in terms of new revenue.
5. Increased Productivity
SharePoint is designed to help companies organize, communicate, and get work done. It’s purpose is to get all company members, literally on the same page. Microsoft products like Office 365 and Teams are fully integrated with SharePoint, so companies using them will see the full collaboration potential of this platform.
Communication tools do not by themselves increase productivity. But when emailing, calling, scheduling, presenting, texting, and video conferencing can all be done from one screen, we can envision a time when communication challenges can no longer be a reason for performance problems. Sharepoint, Teams and 365 together provide this robust predictable unified communications and application platform, today. These products are designed to eliminate obstacles to productivity.
Clear communications is the hallmark of good management. SharePoint makes sharing company information as simple and logical as possible. One typical example: most companies have a SharePoint group for HR. There is no better way to distribute documentation to company employees, than to simply make it available in a known place. This reduces a lot of unnecessary calls, emails and meetings.
Another typical example is a marketing department, with thousands of files and many versions of files for clients and for their own marketing. Searching through this morass is time consuming, for multiple employees. They may each be searching for the “latest”. There is a good chance they will all come out with a different file.
In SharePoint this challenge is handled by creating a SharePoint group called Marketing, and in the Marketing Group space, providing links to only the key documents needed. Latest (authoritative) logo, latest proposal, latest contract, latest pitchbook, etc. Each group is presented with the key tools (folders, files, product tear sheets, videos, etc.) they need to do their job. Sparing them the wasted time of rooting around in a giant list of files.
By removing obstacles to communication, and providing collaboration tools and integrated productivity applications, SharePoint, used properly, truly improves individual and company productivity.
Ready to enjoy the many SharePoint benefits for yourself? Contact the experts at Power Consulting today. We’ll help you identify and implement the perfect technical solutions to help you achieve lasting business success.