Making a success of SharePoint
There’s a groundswell of support within all types of organisations moving to cloud hosted services and solutions. And that’s a terrific, exciting evolution, giving the organisation of any size the ability to remove the headaches associated with accessing and managing IT infrastructure.
Working in the Microsoft sphere, the offerings which make up Office 365 are mouthwatering. You have the most popular in, the bread and butter of 365, and probably easiest sell, Microsoft Exchange to host your email. You have Office applications, and no longer having the pain of re-licencing when new versions come out or having to find licence keys when installing on new devices – users always have access to the latest versions and only need their one-stop windows login to install. You have a vast amount of storage for each user’s personal work files in One Drive for Business, who’s syncing issues that plagued users seem to be slowly but surely disappearing, and which now is a bona fide competitor to Dropbox. There are a swathe of other applications aimed at providing a complete suite of productivity in the cloud.
But I want to talk today about the platform within the platform, and one which is often the elephant in the room. I want to talk about your intranet, your document manager, your workflow, your collaboration hub, your records manager. Yes that’s right, I want to talk about SharePoint. It comes out of the box with your Office 365 subscription in the form of SharePoint Online. It also comes in the form of SharePoint Server, software you can install on your own servers (aka on-premise).
SharePoint you say? OK, i’ll give you 5 minutes and no more
Gee thanks. So, back when I started using SharePoint, some 10 years ago, I got the impression it wasn’t in the habit of creating great impressions. I slowly but surely began to discover why. Whilst it did have its faults, and I’ve since spent what seems like a whole lifetime troubleshooting service and access issues, the main reason it wasn’t well received (I’m generalising here obviously, some people loved it) was that it didn’t come out of the box with a guy or gal who knows how to plan, design, implement and maintain it. Wouldn’t that be a ripping idea. A little SharePoint Oompa-Loompa who, once freed from the box, sucks up all your organisational knowledge and spits out a Wonka factory of SharePoint goodness, with rooms full of snozzleberry workflow splendour, delicious metadata fudge being piped from site to site and all the while any bugs getting immediately sucked into the ether leaving only the good, only the perfectly functioning chocolatey workspace.
OK, I admit that my daughter and I are currently having great fun reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of an evening, hence the Wonka puns. But that aside, the fact remains that there is no golden ticket to a good SharePoint environment without time and energy – both in planning and operational stages. Yes, you can install it without too many hassles and let it run with default settings in the background but it won’t work for you. It may even fall over. But importantly it won’t be the thing you want it to be. It will become the elephant in the room. Or moreover, the white elephant that people refer to with disdain or ambivalence. “SharePoint, yeah I’m pretty sure we have it but no one knows what to use it for” or “Jimmy from the accounts team set it up, there’s a site for all the departments but the last time i saw someone use it was by mistake. Jimmy’s a plumber now…” being typical comments I’ve heard from users.
How much effort?
So it takes effort right? Yep it does, and it should. It takes consideration of what it will be used for, how it will be accessed, what business processes and company data should be incorporated, who will be responsible etc.
The effort doesn’t need to take months and months, but it should be somewhat consistent. There will obviously be a sizable effort first up, but also as SharePoint gets more and more traction it is important not to leave your users without a voice. A feedback survey isn’t really the answer, unless your offering crates of beer or use of the boss’ ferrari for a week as a prize for submitting. Setting up working groups for example is a good idea to identify ongoing and sporadic challenges as well as successes in SharePoint. Meet once a month for an hour to check up on how it is performing and what needs to change.
Have regular contact with your SharePoint service provider or consultant and, where the budget allows and particularly in the case of on-premise SharePoint, sign up to a support agreement to ensure they are looking after your environment, keeping it up to date, raising flags, anticipating bottlenecks, thinking holistically about SharePoint in your business and being all-round, accountable, professional Sharepointy good guys.
The benefits to an organisation of having a well provisioned and efficient SharePoint environment are huge. A central place for files and documents with native integration with Word, Excel, Outlook and your other Office apps. A secure hub with version history, auditing capability and that all important recycle bin. A place to share information to users about upcoming events, about organisational structure, important policies and even photos from the latest office knees-up.
Talk to us at Bon Accord Solutions about how we can lead the effort in making the most out of SharePoint in your organisation.
Call us on 1300 96 26 14
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