Office 365 is a fantastic set of tools for the small business. Microsoft’s subscription based service is packed with software that can improve productivity and collaboration for all sizes of business. However, the majority of users only use a very small percentage of what’s available.
We bet the picture below highlights the programs that you use and are familiar with on a day to day basis.
This may be all you need but the likelihood is that other features would help you and your business if you were more aware of what they could offer.
The critical factor here is probably time, investigating what the other software does is something a busy business owner just hasn’t got time to do.
To help out we are going to highlight some of these programs and try and give a simple quick to read overview.
If the ‘In A Nutshell’ guide whets your appetite and you think that you’d like to learn more will go into a bit more detail and provides links to useful resources including further reading, help videos etc.
To start us off we’ll look at SharePoint.
We’ll start with a disclaimer: we are not SharePoint users, and certaintly don’t want you to think we’re experts, so we’ve used internet based research from a number of sources to compile this article.
In A Nutshell
Simply put SharePoint provides a platform on which to share resources and collaborate. It is primarily used as a document management and storage system, similar to an intranet, but it is highly configurable and usage varies between different organisations.
SharePoint allows you to centralise all of the documentation and information in your business that is currently floating around on email, on hard drives and servers and on paper so that everyone in the organisation can find what they need in one place.
SharePoint goes beyond being a simple intranet by offering collaboration tools.
Who is it for?
Any business with more than 1 person where there is a need to share and work together on Word documents, Excel Spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations. As part of Office 365 it is cloud based and so is particularly useful for companies with multiple sites or remote workers. Within larger businesses, it can be used for project management where project members come from different teams.
Whilst this may be a generalisation, some ‘micro SME’s’ may be using SharePoint effectively, you’ll probably need to be a ‘larger’ SME working across more than one site for SharePoint to be a viable solution.
This is a short, plain English introduction – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s12Jb5Z2xaE
What’s good about it?
Highly configurable with many uses. The main advantage here is by using one tool for many things you cut down on the time required to learn and master many different tools and systems.
It’s packaged with Office 365 so there is no additional cost for the product itself. However, you’ll need to factor time to learn how to correctly configure it yourself or money for a developer to do it for you.
It interacts with other Microsoft products. For example, Task Lists can be synchronized to Outlook.
Collaboration is built into it. It helps you work with other people, by sharing documents, calendars, wiki-pages, task lists, and discussion boards.
What’s bad about it?
It’s complex. It has been described as a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of a product with a huge array of different features. Getting SharePoint to do what you want it do can take a lot of time and effort. There are simpler, out of the box intranet solutions available which are way less configurable but easier and quicker to get set-up.
Cost. The hidden costs of SharePoint can stack up. Gartner posted an interesting picture on the cost of SharePoint:
It’s not very pretty. Superficial maybe, but if you want people within the organisation to engage with and use new software then it helps if it is attractive to use.
It doesn’t work well with Firefox or Chrome. It’s also not particularly mobile friendly.
Think SharePoint might be worth some further investigation?
Then please read on!
Whether you prefer to read blogs or watch webinars and tutorials there are loads of resources on the web to find out more about SharePoint and what it can do.
Whilst the following video is a little out of date, (it mentions that SharePoint is stored on a server. SharePoint online means this is no longer necessarily the case.) it is a thorough introduction to SharePoint – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyP-exiLX_s
If you’d like to learn more about what a SharePoint Intranet could do for your business then have a look at this blog by Michal Pisarek, a six time Microsoft Sharepoint MVP from Bonzai an intranet specialist company from Vancouver.
Next is one of the best resources regarding SharePoint and Office 365 – The ShareGate Blog. This company is based in Montreal (not sure why the Canadian bias when it comes to SharePoint expertise!).
If you can spare the time check out the 25 Mistakes to Avoid in SharePoint or Office 365 (and How To Fix Them) webinar AKA ‘Don’t Suck at SharePoint’
For one of the most comprehensive guides to SharePoint we’ve seen, the simply titled ‘Learn More About SharePoint’ is hard to beat.
Back to our disclaimer. To reiterate we’re not experts, there are a lot of people out there who work with SharePoint on a daily basis and it appears to be a very divisive platform. There are those that clearly love it and those that really, really seem to hate it!
We’ve (hopefully!) given a broad, unbiased, view of what it SharePoint can offer and pointed you in the direction of some further expertise.
If you’re interested in implementing SharePoint then we’d recommend speaking to a local consultant. We’d be happy to help point you in the right direction.
Not using Office 365? We are experts in helping businesses migrate to Office 365; our team will ensure that the process is as seamless as possible. We’ll minimise downtime as much as possible and provide information and training to help your employees get used to the new system.
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