In this digital world of collaboration and communication, Microsoft SharePoint remains one of the most established and useful tools for helping businesses improve accessibility and sharing of organisational knowledge and content. But Microsoft SharePoint offers much more than that, including many ways to leverage it to help your business and people work smarter, regardless of whether they’re office based, working remotely, or mobile. Let’s start by explaining what Microsoft SharePoint is.
What is Microsoft SharePoint?
Microsoft SharePoint is a cloud-based content management, communication and collaboration platform designed to help bring your organisation together through its in-built functionality with other Microsoft products. The main benefits of SharePoint are that it:
- Is continuously evolving and improving to make it faster, user-friendly and mobile responsive
- Has built-in security controls, with significant investment from Microsoft to maintain full cloud security. This includes advanced security, such as user permissions and the ability to restrict who can view your content from outside of the organisation
- Is scalable to grow as your business grows – from medium to enterprise, SharePoint grows with you
- Is highly customisable and configurable to fit your business and individual departments’ needs
- Doesn’t require the ability to code, making it perfect for non-technical users to create and edit SharePoint sites and pages
- Is fully integrated with Office 365 – synced with OneDrive, Outlook and Teams, not to mention the usual Microsoft suite of software (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)
- Has many additional apps and features that can be used with it, such as power apps, workflow automation, business intelligence reporting, tasks, communication and project management tools, and many more
With Microsoft SharePoint you can build intranet sites and create pages, including centralised and structured document libraries where you can store your documents and content for your organisation to access. Pages are highly customisable, making it ideal for meeting the various individual needs of your business units and departments. Web parts and content can be added and embedded into pages, as well as document lists, visuals, news and updates. With SharePoint’s modern experience, you’re essentially creating your own dynamic internal website for your business.
Microsoft SharePoint for content management and communication
Microsoft SharePoint has been around for nearly two decades, and was originally used as a simple intranet in businesses. These days it can do much more, with the ability to build pages from scratch for different purposes, add your own branding and colour themes, bring together content from many other sources, and add images and video.
You can add communication channels for your business to keep your people connected with your content, share important updates and streamline how content is created, uploaded, sorted, published and accessed. And with its in-built syncronicity with Teams and OneDrive, moving between the apps (or accessing content from any of them in any of the other apps) is incredibly easy as content is seamlessly synced between them.
Microsoft SharePoint for document management
As a document management system, Microsoft SharePoint enables robust document control in an organisation. Rather than documents being stored on individual drives where they can’t be seen by others, they can be securely uploaded, published and sorted so they are freely accessible to others.
Documents can be edited in real time in the browser, or checked out to be worked on in desktop versions of Microsoft applications such as Word and Excel, then republished with the changes. With inbuilt versioning, the previous versions of the document are retained, which makes it an ideal document management system for quality control and auditing. This removes issues that can arise when documents are shared manually via email, such as having older versions that have been changed by someone else. It also helps break down information silos that can prevent a business from leveraging its knowledge across departments to streamline operations and processes.
Metadata and tags can also be added to documents (and content) to make organising and accessing them incredibly easy. Pages can also be created that provide filtered views based on the metadata added to your documents and content.
SharePoint for collaboration
Microsoft SharePoint is designed to improve collaboration, especially when deployed with Office 365. Your documents and content are stored in one centralised and shared “intranet” space and, as mentioned above, can be configured to display based on filters (from metadata and tags) on different pages. For example, adding department specific metadata such as “Health & Safety” to files allows you to pull all content that has this metadata through to a specific Health & Safety page for your teams to access everything they need to work safely.
With the functionality that Office 365 provides to the SharePoint experience, your teams can meet in virtualised workspaces to:
- Share information, content and documents
- Create to-do lists
- Complete tasks
- Access shared calendars
- Collaborate on documents in real-time
- Chat and communicate
- Utilise project management tools together
With fully mobile-friendly and device-responsive functionality, Microsoft SharePoint can be accessed remotely and on-the-go, meaning your teams aren’t tied to the office with traditional desktop-only tools for running and growing your business.
Customising SharePoint to fit your business
Microsoft SharePoint as an intranet solution offers full customisation, content and document management, communication and collaboration tools to keep your business connected and streamlined. It’s the best way to take a structured approach to ensuring your business’ critical functions and information are accessible from anywhere, whether via desktop or mobile.
It can be confusing to get started with customising Microsoft SharePoint to fit your business needs, mainly due to how highly configurable it is. There are also licensing requirements and user-based security and permissions to consider when getting started or improving your current SharePoint experience.