An introduction to Microsoft SharePoint for Business users

If you are unfamiliar with SharePoint and how it can benefit your small business, you are not alone. Here we’ll look at how Microsoft SharePoint can empower your organisation using enterprise-class business resources.

Where to start?

Sharepoint is such a versatile platform that can be used for many different business activities so it is very difficult to define. Fundamentally, Microsoft SharePoint is a browser-based collaboration and document/data management software solution that’s designed to connect all of your employees and business resources together. SharePoint allows everyone to collaborate and synchronise daily business tasks and responsibilities from a centralised software platform. Sharepoint is accessed from either your web browser or the Microsoft SharePoint mobile app. SharePoint online is installed and managed on a hosted server, known as the cloud and is included in the Microsoft Office 365 business packages.

Security

SharePoint Online is actually more secure and cost-effective than an on-premise solution, especially for small business users. It is hosted from Microsoft’s data centre which is required to meet security and compliance requirements and certifications. Comprehensive data protection services are included in your SharePoint Online subscription to prevent data loss.  Data protection includes regular backups and redundancy with a copy of data stored in different locations.  Data protection for SharePoint also includes disaster recovery that provides immediate retrieval of data following a catastrophe.

Business benefits

Every business has requirements that are unique, which means your software and applications should be too. SharePoint applications and services are completely customisable without the upfront costs of developing and managing the infrastructure on the premises if you choose SharePoint online.

  1. Cost scaling – You only pay for what you use. The solutions and functions are both flexible and scalable so you can scale up or down at a moment’s notice without having any upfront IT costs.
  2. Easy access – SharePoint is designed for anywhere access which ensures your team stays productive regardless of where work takes them. Access from anywhere does not mean you have to comprise security and in addition, you are provided with the ability to maintain information management over a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  3. Collaboration – SharePoint empowers companies using advanced business intelligence and insight tools. It provides improved and accurate decision making to help you plan more efficiently for new initiatives and the activity feeds allows team members to collaborate in a unified content hub.
  4. Data migration – Microsoft provides access to FastTrack Centre that allows you to easily migrate files and data to OneDrive for Business which integrates with SharePoint.

Business uses

Typically, SharePoint is used for one or more of the following purposes:

  1. Document management – Businesses use SharePoint to store documents in a shared space instead of one location such as a hard drive. The documents feature allows anyone in your organisation to access documents unless the administrator has set specific access permissions.
  2. Project management – In SharePoint, you can create team sites, which are essentially web pages for teams to collaborate and move work forward. With Quick Launch, you can map your project management processes to SharePoint site  and you can add different lists and apps to manage all aspects of your project, including the project statement, project issues, risks, tasks, goals, change requests, project status reports – or any other process you need to manage your project. All SharePoint team sites also come with a Project Tasks list, where you can build out the project schedule and manage the project plan. Once you have the project planned and responsibilities assigned, you’ll want to create a series of work reports to track all the tasks and work associated with the project.
  3. Collaboration – Businesses are using SharePoint to improve employee collaboration and interaction. With SharePoint, you can sign login from any device and instantly have access to information such as scheduled tasks, project status, co-worker location, calendars, documents, and more. SharePoint simplifies collaboration by providing tools that are just as effective as the communication and interaction of workers located in a single office space.
  4. Customer relationship management – SharePoint easily integrates with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other CRM solutions. This creates high visibility for critical data such as customer information, sales, marketing, suppliers, and other information pertinent to the unique needs of your business.  CRM integration with SharePoint means faster team communication and a 360-degree transparent view of all activities leading to better customer service, improved customer retention, and potentially increased sales.
  5. Social features – SharePoint social features offer three different hubs located in a navigation bar. The purpose of the hubs is to unify RSS Newsfeeds, Sites, OneDrive, and My Site to make a social network with SharePoint a fully integrated experience. Employees can easily post a message to the newsfeed on a team site or public newsfeed and view updates on other activities. SharePoint also integrates with Skype for Business to allow your employees to easily communicate with co-workers.
  6. Human resources – SharePoint can be used to establish a company intranet where your employees can log in to locate a variety of information such as scheduled tasks, announcements, the latest news. Each dashboard interface is customisable to meet the individual needs of every department. Administrators can set different levels of access so everyone can access specific information they need such as ongoing project status, customer history and employee performance.

Want to find out more about how it can add value to your business? LocalIT specialises in the deployment and ongoing support of Microsoft SharePoint. Visit our IT Consultancy page to find out more.

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