By Dexter Duncan
A few weeks ago, I invited one of our clients to a seminar on Microsoft SharePoint. I realized that she did not know what SharePoint was, although she had heard of it. Despite the overwhelming success of SharePoint (with more than 100 million sold and $1Billion in revenue), there are many businesses that do not know much about it. Many enterprises have adopted SharePoint for internally setting up collaboration for Facebook-style communication, as a platform for their web sites and/or as an easy to use document management tool. Sharepoint is available as a hosted (cloud computing) solution or can be installed on premises.
This article gives a brief overview of Microsoft SharePoint including some key benefits of using it.
As a start, Microsoft includes a free version of SharePoint if you buy Windows SBS 2008. So your main cost is for implementation/ set-up. As your requirements become complex, you fork out the additional money as needed for licensing feature-rich versions. There are multi-million dollar companies in Australia whose only focus is to design SharePoint solutions for clients. So what does Microsoft SharePoint offer that is so enticing?
SharePoint makes it easy for companies to “consolidate workflows”. You can actually achieve multiple things using Microsoft SharePoint as your main platform. The most common usages of SharePoint are:
- Collaboration (i.e. a corporate style Facebook)
- Document management (i.e. an easy way to track document changes and workflow.)
- Search/indexing,– (i.e. quick access to all your internal files)
- Applications management including legacy applications
- Website Portal and Content Management
A quote from a Microsoft website says:
“(SharePoint) improve(s) organizational effectiveness by providing comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight.”
Some examples of “shared business processes” that could be automated with SharePoint include:
- Staff Expense Reimbursement and Approval
- Sick Leave and Holiday Request and Approval
- Room and Equipment Reservation
- Staff/Client Reports
In the latest version (Sharepoint 2010), you can reportedly search, view and edit content/people, lists, libraries and other Office content even when off-line. This is great feature for folks with a mobile workforce as they can read/write and sync changes much easier.
(source: Microsoft Technet)
SharePoint is a web-based application that helps take Microsoft Office beyond the desktop application, bringing it online to allow more effective sharing or collaboration within your company.
- Improve team productivity with easy-to-use collaborative tools. Connect people with the information and resources they need. Users can create team workspaces, coordinate calendars, organize documents, and receive important notifications and updates through communication features including announcements and alerts, as well as the new templates for creating blogs and wikis. While mobile, users can take advantage of convenient offline synchronization capabilities.
- Easily manage documents and help ensure integrity of content. With enhanced document management capabilities including the option to activate required document checkout before editing, the ability to view revisions to documents and restore to previous versions, and the control to set document- and item-level security, Windows SharePoint Services can help ensure the integrity of documents stored on team sites.
- Deploy solutions tailored to your business processes.While standard workspaces in Windows SharePoint Services are easy to implement, organizations seeking a more customized deployment can get started quickly with application templates for addressing specific business processes or sets of tasks.
- Build a collaboration environment quickly and easily.Easy to manage and easy to scale, Windows SharePoint Services enables IT departments to deploy a collaborative environment with minimal administrative time and effort, from simple, single-server configurations to more robust enterprise configurations. Because deployment settings can be flexibly changed, less pre-planning time is required and companies can get started even faster.
- Reduce the complexity of securing business information.Windows SharePoint Services provides IT with advanced administrative controls for increasing the security of information resources, while decreasing cost and complexity associated with site provisioning, site management, and support. Take advantage of better controls for site life-cycle management, site memberships and permissions, and storage limits.
- Provide sophisticated controls for securing company resources. IT departments can now set permissions as deep down as the document or item level, and site managers, teams, and other work groups can initiate self-service collaborative workspaces and tasks within these preset parameters. New features enable IT to set top-down policies for better content recovery and users, groups, and team workspace site administration.
- Take file sharing to a new level with robust storage capabilities. Windows SharePoint Services supplies workspaces with document storage and retrieval features, including check-in/check-out functionality, version history, custom metadata, and customizable views. New features in Windows SharePoint Services include enhanced recycle bin functionality for easier recovery of content and improved backup and restoration.
To find out more about Microsoft SharePoint solutions, contact your local technology partner.