3 Ways to Use SharePoint Online in the Workplace
A recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that by 2020, mobile workers will account for nearly 72.3% of America’s workforce. With this in mind, it becomes increasingly clear that in today’s modern day workforce, (and that of the future), a simple way to share files and trade ideas will be critical to success for businesses of all sizes.
When mobile workers have an easy way to collaborate, regardless of location, your organization can harness the power, the knowledge, and significantly increase the productivity of your entire workforce.
Microsoft SharePoint Online makes this type of seamless collaboration possible. SharePoint Online is a powerful communication and collaboration tool that allows employees to access workplace files no matter where they are located.
This online tool makes it possible for management to hold impromptu meetings, solicit ideas for immediate feedback, and keep track of their team’s progress from virtually anywhere.
Mobility is here to Stay
Out with the Old, In with the New
The “old days” of either being tethered to a desk all day or not getting work done – are over.
Through contemporary tools like SharePoint Online, employees can view files, make changes and contribute to ideas on their way to work, while having lunch at the local coffee shop or even waiting for a flight at the airport. Simply put, SharePoint Online and the Microsoft Office Suite of tools provide businesses with the freedom and flexibility their mobile staff needs to compete, and win, in the modern world.
Getting started with SharePoint requires just a few simple steps.
Step 1) SharePoint Online is included in most Office 365 subscriptions, so if you have a subscription, you likely already have access to this powerful collaboration and file sharing tool.
Step 2) When you subscribe to an Office 365 package that includes SharePoint, the system automatically creates a number of site collections. That gives you everything you need to get started with sharing and collaboration.
Step 3) Once SharePoint is in place, you can create your own team sites. This gives you additional control and power over the files that are included and how they are shared. You can rely on the automatically created sites for training purposes, but for real work, it’s best to create your own team sites.
The Top 3 Ways to Use SharePoint Online in the Workplace
Save Time, Money and Eliminate Hassle with SharePoint
Once you have your SharePoint Online site up and running, there are a number of creative and innovative ways to use it. The following are three of the best ways to put SharePoint Online to work for your organization.
#1. Create a SharePoint Intranet
With SharePoint Online, businesses no longer need to devote time and resources into developing and maintaining a dedicated company intranet. That’s because SharePoint Online provides all the functionality of an intranet – at a fraction of the cost.
* Using SharePoint as an intranet replacement will require the assistance of an IT consultant to fully set up and configure the intranet system.
When creating an intranet through SharePoint Online, it is important to understand that the basic purpose of the site is to make your employees’ jobs easier. Whether they are using the intranet to access the employee handbook, change their direct deposits or download their tax forms, employees need a space that is intuitive and easy to navigate.
After all, every minute employees spend searching the intranet is one less minute they are doing their jobs.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when building your company intranet within SharePoint Online. The most important qualities of a great SharePoint intranet are:
- Simplicity – the intranet should be easy to navigate, with links to the most frequently used items and regular updates to keep workers informed.
- Staff oriented – you are building the intranet for internal staff, not external clients and customers, and the design should reflect those priorities.
- Promote your content – Even workers who access the intranet every day may not notice a new link or page. Communicate important changes via email, messenger and other means so employees do not miss out on the latest updates.
#2. Create a Wiki
Just about everyone is familiar with Wikipedia, and through SharePoint, businesses can harness the same power of sharing and collaboration.
Unlike Wikipedia, which can be updated by anyone with an internet connection, a company wiki is open only to authorized employees, making it a powerful tool for sharing company information.
Naturally, the creation of a company wiki is greatly aided by SharePoint Online.
After all, SharePoint is a tool for sharing and collaboration, and building a company wiki is the perfect way to use it.
Microsoft even provides SharePoint users with instructions and ideas for creating a powerful and effective wiki within the workplace.
#3. Create a Group and Use SharePoint as a Collaboration Tool
Perhaps the most obvious use for SharePoint Online is as a tool for the sharing of ideas. By creating a group and using SharePoint as a collaboration tool, businesses can overcome a number of challenges, from differences in time zones, to issues with international borders.
SharePoint online is the perfect accompaniment for any project manager, allowing leaders to create tasks, keep tabs on progress and provide feedback as the process moves along.
SharePoint also provides managers with an easy way to supervise staff members no matter where they are and what they are doing. Whether employees are two time zones away, traveling on business or on vacation at the beach – SharePoint Online allows everyone to contribute, share ideas and keep their files safe.
Is SharePoint Secure?
Microsoft has built SharePoint Online from the ground up with security in mind, making it a powerful and safe collaboration tool.
When used properly, the files on your SharePoint Online site should be perfectly safe, but there are some key security tips to keep in mind.
These are the best practices to follow when using SharePoint Online as an intranet replacement, a wiki creator or a collaboration tool:
- USE GROUPS: It’s best to utilize groups to manage your SharePoint users. Assigning rights at the group level allows you to control access while still giving everyone the access they need.
- BE CAREFUL WITH PERMISSIONS: Avoid document and item-level permissions. Assigning permissions at the document or item level can be confusing, and it is easy to assign a greater level of access than you intended.
- USE “SHARE” SPARINGLY: Use caution when exploring the new “Share” permission. The share function can create inadvertent security risks by allowing anyone who receives the file to share it with others. The “Share” permission has its place, but it should be used sparingly.
- ASSIGN ADMINS: Assign a specific admin for every Site Collection. The security of your SharePoint Online experience is only as good as the security of your Site Collection, and assigning a specific admin to each collection is an important best practice – one you should follow every time.
- REQUIRE SECURITY PRECAUTIONS: Require users to securely lock their smartphones and tablets. SharePoint Online users can access their files from anywhere, including their mobile devices, but an unlocked smartphone or tablet is a real security risk. Always require SharePoint users to follow common-sense security protocols, like assigning a strong password and auto-locking their devices.
SharePoint Consulting Services Can Help You Succeed
Microsoft has worked hard to make SharePoint Online as intuitive as possible, but if you have never used the service before, a SharePoint consulting service can give you a head start and help you avoid common mistakes in the long run.
Ontech Systems: Your Local Milwaukee Area SharePoint Consultant
If you need assistance setting up SharePoint within your business, Ontech can reduce the learning curve by teaching your users the ins and outs of file sharing and collaboration. We’ll show you how to avoid mistakes so you can take full take advantage of all the great SharePoint Online features and immediately see return on your investment.
In addition, we can also help experienced SharePoint users overcome potential roadblocks they might encounter along the way. While many businesses use SharePoint right “out of the box”, working with a SharePoint consultant like Ontech can ensure the tool is configured and optimized for your unique business goals. To get started, connect with us online or call us at (262) 522-8560.
Common Misconceptions about SharePoint
Even with millions of users, there are still some misconceptions about SharePoint Online and its capabilities. Here are some of the most common misconceptions to watch out for:
FALSE: “SharePoint is Simply a File Storage Site.”
TRUE: SharePoint is also a powerful collaboration tool, and a place where users can work together toward a single unified goal.
FALSE: “SharePoint is Just for Creating Intranets.”
TRUE: While SharePoint is a great replacement for the company intranet, its capabilities extend beyond the sharing of basic information.
FALSE: “SharePoint is Only Suitable for Non-critical Files.”
TRUE: SharePoint is just as useful for vital files and line of business systems. SharePoint can be used with everything from databases to SAP modules.
FALSE: “It Takes a Dedicated IT Staff to Manage a SharePoint Online Site.”
TRUE: You do not need a standalone IT department to manage your SharePoint experience, especially when you team up with a quality consultant like Ontech Systems.
SharePoint Online is a powerful tool for sharing and collaboration, one that is as versatile as it is useful. Whether you want to replace your expensive and outdated intranet, create a company wiki or collaborate across time zones, you can do it all with SharePoint Online.
Implement SharePoint Online into Your Business
Whether you’re interested in utilizing SharePoint online as a wiki, intranet replacement or online collaboration tool, or you’re interested in evaluating other secure file sharing and collaboration solutions, connect with us online or call us at (262) 522-8560. We’ll help you find the best solution for your unique goals and objectives.
As a first step to see how Ontech can best assist you, you could also request a Free Network Discovery where we will identify existing or potential security vulnerabilities within your IT network. If security is a concern for your business, this 100% complementary service is a great option to get a grasp on areas for improvement within your network.
Our highly qualified, skilled team of IT consultants will answer questions and help you ensure your business is positioned for growth and productivity, regardless of size and budget.