So What Is SharePoint, Anyway?
Many small businesses have huge problems when it comes to managing processes and sharing information. With every worker wearing multiple hats, it’s often difficult to keep track of who’s in charge of what, to say nothing of where all the information on a particular project is stored. So what do people do? They either have a short conversation by the water cooler, or they say, “Shoot me an email with the status update and your newest version of that contract.”
These approaches will get the job done – and for your average small business struggling to stay on top of a growing workload with limited staff and resources, just getting the job done is an accomplishment in itself. But if you want to get ahead by actively managing your work processes and sharing information efficiently, you’re probably going to need something like SharePoint.
What it is: In a nutshell, it’s the guts behind a good intranet. Think about your ideal company intranet. It would probably include:
- Information sharing, so that common documents like time-off request forms or expense forms were all in one place;
- Document management, so that you could all work off the same version of the employee manual instead of the sixteen revisions you have floating around the office;
- Collaborative capabilities, so that people could discuss individual projects or business issues in an open forum;
- Client access, so that clients could review contracts or other documents online instead of trading endless emails.
SharePoint gives you all of that in a single package. And it’s highly customizable to fit in with your company’s structure and work processes.
What it does: It centralizes all that information that’s been floating around in email, on hard drives, on various servers, and on paper so that everybody in your organization can find what they need in one place. It helps preserve institutional knowledge so that you’re not left in the lurch if a key employee leaves your organization. It can serve as the go-to bulletin board for company announcements. And it can foster lively discussions and the exchange of ideas.
What it won’t do: Like any collaborative tool, SharePoint thrives on participation and suffers when it’s ignored. In other words, it won’t work if you don’t use it. You have to actively post documents and participate in discussions. People may resist using SharePoint at first, preferring to just email documents or do whatever their old work habits dictate. But the more you can steer people toward it, the more they’ll use it, and the more value they’ll build into it. It’s a virtuous circle.
Sign me up: Not so fast. First you need to decide whether you’re going to go with a server-based, in-house SharePoint solution, or if you’re going to go with a hosted option. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. Talk with CMIT Solutions about which option is best for you – whichever one you choose, we can help you set up and customize SharePoint to fit your business.