Hilltop frequently demonstrates current and emerging technologies to clients and prospective clients. One of the more common requests we receive is for demonstrations of the features and benefits of Microsoft SharePoint. And while most people indicate that they have heard of SharePoint, they don’t know exactly what it does.
What is SharePoint? And why should your company use it?
At a fundamental level, SharePoint is a secure place to store, organize, share, and access data from almost any device. That being said, many other document management systems promise the same solution. When it comes to SharePoint, the benefits are encapsulated in what I call the “four C’s” – Collaboration, Cloud, Cleanliness, and Cost.Collaboration
The real power of SharePoint is in document collaboration. SharePoint allows staff to work simultaneously in shared documents. You can watch your colleagues edit a Word document in real-time, their notes and edits appearing alongside your edits. If you don’t want colleagues editing a document while you are working, you can check out the document (as you would a library book). This allows version control, preventing edits to a document until you check it back in.
SharePoint workflows enable you to create custom process for documents. For example, you can have SharePoint automatically email your coworker to let them know that you have made your changes, and they can begin their edits. Tired of nagging a coworker to approve a document? Attach a workflow that automatically emails them every morning asking for approval.
SharePoint also includes document versioning, commenting, searching, etc. to ensure all involved parties have the necessary information they need when reviewing a document.Cloud / Availability
Microsoft offers a Cloud-hosted SharePoint solution as part of its popular Office 365 solution. This means SharePoint is available on your laptop, workstation, mobile phone, tablet, etc. IOS and Android users can use SharePoint to their heart’s content because they have full Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on their devices to allow for document editing. These tools are also browser independent, so Mac users can use Safari.
As with most Cloud services, you no longer have downtime when your office Internet goes down. Internet down at the office? Work from home, work from Starbucks, or work from your iPad using a 4G connection. All you need is an internet connection.Cleanliness
SharePoint provides a clean and searchable interface to easily find documents. Since SharePoint is part of the Office 365 suite, it ties directly into Microsoft Office. Click File – Open from Word, and you will see all of your SharePoint data. A common issue that clutters file servers is multiple copies from documents being emailed internally as attachments. SharePoint prevents that by allowing you to email links to documents. This ensures everyone is editing and viewing the same document.
Hilltop migrates clients to help them de-clutter and use a clean storage structure. One of the initial steps our process for is reviewing the current structure of your data. Most clients have years of data buried in folders inside of folders. Before the first file is migrated to SharePoint, Hilltop works with the staff to learn how they currently access, organize, and share data. Most often, we set up each department with their own SharePoint site. Inside the site are data libraries, discussion boards, announcements, calendars, and other organizational tools. Setting up separate sites allows security and privacy of different functional data. For example, HR data can be kept completely separate from financial data. If a staff member does not have permissions to HR data (or a specific SharePoint company site), they do not even see the site listed on their SharePoint homepage or the data stored inside it.Cost
The majority of document management systems require a substantial initial investment along with a monthly maintenance cost. Here is the part of SharePoint that IT budget people love – if you have Office 365, you may already have SharePoint! SharePoint is included in numerous Office 365 plans. The major cost is the initial sweat equity invested in designing and customizing your SharePoint infrastructure.
Since it is Cloud-based, no hardware needs to be purchased. Those expensive image-based backup solutions with offsite synchronization are a thing of the past. In many cases, a migration to SharePoint saves money.
In summary, SharePoint through Office 365 is an affordable and accessible Cloud-storage solution that improves collaboration and organization of your company data.