Lots of businesses have already invested in Office 365 or are considering the move — without having any idea that SharePoint comes with the package or how to leverage it for the business.
This isn't the customers' fault. Microsoft doesn't do the best job of positioning and explaining all the components of 0365. (For example, for years SharePoint was called "Sites" when you looked up the apps in 0365. Why? We have no idea.) It's almost impossible to tell at a glance what you're getting and how to use it.
Why Should You Care?
Because SharePoint is a killer operational savings, collaboration and documentation tool. Given proper care and feeding, it can save tons of staff time by getting all your company's documents organized and versioned correctly, enabling faster collaboration, reducing liability and automating processes that currently chew up resources.
Let's look at a few SharePoint benefits for businesses that are all but invisible to the first-time buyer or new user:
Stop "Pushing Paper"
Consider a small company that wants to set up self-serve access for employees to their benefits information. Using SharePoint, they create an Employee Benefits site containing read-only access to benefits forms and plan information.
Information is presented according to the user's role in the company, so nobody sees documents above their pay grade. Employees can visit the site, download a form and return the completed form to the appropriate plan manager. Information about responsible parties along with their contact information is published on the Employee Benefits page. Plan managers and other departmental employees manage the files in the site. This ensures everything is up to date and frees staff up to accomplish bigger and better things — leaving the paper pushing to SharePoint.
Reducing Liability and Making Compliance Easy
Companies in sectors like health care and finance have serious regulatory guardrails on their day-to-day activity. Having unorganized or out-of-date documentation means higher likelihood of lawsuits, fines or other expensive disruptions.
A hospital, for instance, needs to continually review and update their policies and procedures to ensure continued compliance with industry regulations and current hospital guidelines. This is difficult if files live all over the network and are owned by admin staff across the organization.
Using SharePoint, the source policy files can be uploaded to one location, with access restricted to only those authorized to make changes. In addition, policy approvers are able to review and approve the policies in place prior to them being published for staff review.
Client Collaboration and Retention
A software consulting company that has to share documents with their clients via e-mail finds that document management and client collaboration has become a nightmare. (Which version is this? Is this the right one? Who forwarded what?)
With SharePoint, the company can create a custom site with external access enabled and invite their clients as users to the site. Files to be shared with the client are uploaded to a document library and a link to the file is sent via email (instead of the file itself). This streamlines project execution, boosts client satisfaction and enables repeat business.
Automating Clunky, Time-Wasting Processes
Some companies have complex capital expense requisition and approval processes. There are many "cooks in the kitchen" and multiple levels of review prior to reaching the EVP or CEO for approval. This creates a lot of paper and documents. Each one is a new variable that increases the odds of items getting "lost in the shuffle" and slowing the process to a painful crawl.
With SharePoint automation, the paper is presented to the correct approver at the right time in the process. A dashboard shows each item's status, with the most current versions of all paperwork stored in SharePoint. Participants receive notification when it is "their turn" for review and sign-off so the approval process doesn't bog down.
Ready, Set…Wait a Minute
In our decades of working with companies to deploy SharePoint to solve business problems, we find that knowing you have SharePoint and using it effectively are two entirely different animals. When you combine the tool with deep document management methodology, that's when the path between "What is this mess?" and "That's more like it!" shortens considerably.
Are you seeing bottlenecks in your business where better document management would save staff time and your operating budget? Get in touch and we'll explore what's bothering you.