For many SMEs, SharePoint brings to mind visions of large enterprises utilising the software to manage their extensive intranet. It’s easy to see why, with statistics such as those proclaiming that 78% of all Fortune 500 companies use Sharepoint. This can lead many businesses to wonder whether SharePoint is worthwhile for SMEs – or if it is something best left to the PLCs.
Well, with the advent of cloud, the benefits of SharePoint are no longer consigned to the corridors of glass-fronted 50-floor buildings. Whereas in the past, SharePoint could only be bought as an on-premises or hosted solution – with the associated infrastructure costs that came with it – it can now be accessed as part of the software-as-a-service Office 365 solution from as little as £3.90 per user per month.
However, whilst SharePoint may now be accessible cost-wise to SMEs, the real question is: what value can it deliver to them?
Document management– in the cloud
Whilst true that SharePoint has traditionally been used as an intranet in large organisations, it offers much more than that – especially when used as part of the wider Office 365 ecosystem.
All documents can be uploaded to SharePoint in the cloud, meaning you can save and access your documents at any time, from any device – whether that be your laptop, mobile or tablet. You can also file your documents in the same way you would under a local drive, but with the added benefit of an easy-to-use search facility – perfect for finding documents stored elsewhere than expected!
But isn’t this just the same as OneDrive?
In a word: no. Many SMEs are already using OneDrive to share and collaborate on documents, and wrongly assume that SharePoint and OneDrive are effectively one and the same. However, there are some unique differences.
OneDrive allows you to update and share your files from anywhere and work with Office documents with others at the same time. However, SharePoint is specifically set up to allow users to manage their files, documents and ideas through tools such as document libraries, task lists, calendars, workflows, wikis and more. SharePoint enables documents to be linked to projects (with all the associated information that comes with this) and grants permissions at project or folder levels, whereas OneDrive is set up for one-off sharing of documents with individuals.
You can read more about the differences here.
SharePoint also offers collaboration on-the-go too, where multiple workers can edit documents at the same time and any changes can be seen in real-time.
Permissions can also be set for folders or individual documents, providing greater security control by eliminating the user error of sharing the wrong documents with the wrong people.
By combining SharePoint with Excel data or a more robust business intelligence tool like Microsoft Power BI, it’s possible for SMEs to create easy-to-use dashboards that present all of their mission-critical reporting information in one place. This is a great option if you wish to keep accurate up-to-date and easy-to-access performance data in one central location.
Other useful features
Other useful tools for SMEs include:
- Workflows: streamline and automate a wide variety of business processes and track the status of routine procedures.
- Calendar tracking and project management: SharePoint’s calendar can be used to schedule team events and track team/project milestones.
- Websites: SharePoint comes with in-built website templates for those looking to build a low cost business or team website
These are just some of the features available with Sharepoint, the document management and collaboration system that is available with Office 365. If you’ve decided that Office 365 is the solution for your productivity and innovation needs, you may want to discover how to maximise your return on investment with our guide: Planning a successful Office 365 migration: A small business checklist.