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SharePoint Online: Benefits for Small Business & Use cases

Before 2011, SharePoint was a market to mid to large size businesses due to its high cost. The shift in 2011 happened when Microsoft bundled SharePoint and its cloud version- SharePoint Online- into the office 365 license, which made it affordable to small businesses as well.
When a small business is in its early stages, managers can handle most of the business processes manually. Managing a small amount of data is easy. Managers can manually control excel sheets, pivot trackers, email approvals, and notifications.
Often a manual process eventually leads to issues as the business grows- unstructured operations start falling apart. Many times, HR, accounts and IT departments collaborate offline and resolve issues internally. The challenge is that such organizations require a business process automation tool to manage unstructured operational issues effectively.
If your business is outgrowing your current systems but you’re not sure where to go next, SharePoint may be a good fit. In this blog post, we are sharing some of the benefits of using SharePoint and how it can help your business.

Benefits of Adopting SharePoint Online

SharePoint is a highly flexible, responsive and customizable a platform that enterprises prefer to use when it comes to content management, collaboration, workflow creation, and  Business Process Automation. Another benefit of SharePoint Online is increased productivity. SharePoint Online boosts your productivity in the following ways.
  • 1. Acts as your Centralized Hub
  • 2. Easy Collaboration tool
  • 3. Seamless integration with MS Office services
  • 4. Customizable solutions
  • 5. Limitless OneDrive storage
  • 6. Enhanced security
Let’s discuss these benefits in more detail.

1. SharePoint acts as your centralized hub:

One of the biggest advantages of SharePoint Online is that it’s a   cloud solution, you can access anywhere, at any time. It also acts as a centralized hub for storing your files in one easy-to-access location. Your team does not need to hunt down information or documents. Instead, they can easily search for your document on the SharePoint hub. You can also secure your documents with different permission rights like reading, reading/writing, etc. Finally, you can access all your office documents from a PC, laptop, mobile or tablet. SharePoint works on Android, Apple and Windows devices.

2. Easy Collaboration tool

SharePoint Online makes it easy for co-workers to collaborate online. For example, saving documents in OneDrive allows users to share documents with multiple people and giving them permission for real-time editing thus keeping the copy updated. You can have different people working on a proposal or spreadsheet from multiple offices and locations. Each user’s changes get tracked, so it is possible to see who edited which portions. Furthermore,   OneDrive automatically creates versions of the saved documents, so nothing gets lost.  If a file is accidentally deleted or overwrites occurs, OneDrive can restore the document to a   the previous version. The recycle bin functions as a catch-all for the times when a file is deleted in error, so it can be retrieved without loss of content.

3. Seamless integration with MS Office services and other systems

SharePoint online offers seamless connectivity to the entire suite of Microsoft Office products. If you use Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word or Outlook daily in your workplace, you will find an easy option to import and export documents from your SharePoint list into other applications. The integration also gives you the option of quickly editing documents in your browser or opening them natively on your desktop, but no the matter which you choose, the changes will be saved in the drive. Also, SharePoint integrates with many enterprise systems (CRM, ERP, project management systems, etc.), which allows the company’s ability to create cross-department workflows.

4. Customizable solutions

Another popular reason companies use SharePoint is that the tool allows extensive customization capabilities such  as
  • a. Creating custom workflows
  • b. Building system notifications based on your triggers
  • c. Branding the site/ app with your organization’s logo/ colors
The pages are all WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get – which means staff doesn’t need to have coding skills. Modern communication sites allow users to quickly create their own enterprise intranet with ready-to-use add-ins and widgets. Beyond Intranet also offers several such add-ins and workflows which are plug-in and play.

5. Limitless OneDrive storage

OneDrive for Business gives you the option to keep documents on the cloud versus saving your files on local storage. OneDrive for Business gives employees a personal site where they can sync and share documents, collaborate on documents with individuals inside and outside the organizations, and access their content from multiple devices. You can also control individual permissions on OneDrive if you want to share your documents with specific colleagues.

6. Enhanced security

SharePoint has enterprise-level security features to keep your documents safe. Microsoft has an entire website devoted to security and compliance. Hosting operations through a single, integrated platform also reduces your vulnerability to holes, leaks, and attacks across multiple systems. Additionally, you can also protect your organization by monitoring user behavior, to ensure all employees and contractors comply with your internal usage policies.

Popular Use Cases of SharePoint Online

Companies often ask us about some of the popular ways that organizations can use SharePoint technology for their needs. Below are some use cases which highlight how easy it is for users to customize SharePoint to automate their business processes.
  • 1. Document Management system
  • 2. Enterprise Intranet
  • 3. Knowledge Management
  • 4. HR process automation
  • 5. Creating Custom workflows
Document Management system
In most companies- employees struggle to find relevant information or document at the right time. The IDC discovered that knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours per day, or roughly 30% of the workday, searching for information. SharePoint has the ability to help organizations reduce expenses by making their documents easy to find. SharePoint is most suited to act as an effective Document management system (DMS). The platform ensures easy creation, secure storage, fast search, and various document retrieval types including rare file extensions. The approval workflow and the user permission system make the document management seamless and full proof. Some other SharePoint online features that boost the system’s effectiveness are:
  • a. Assigning user access permissions
  • b. Impressive storage capacity (1 TB per organization with additional 10 GB per license in SharePoint Online)
  • c. Powerful indexing and metadata functionality
  • d. Versioning capabilities
  • e. Robust search features
  • f. Multiple layers of security with all kinds of document
  • g. A wide range of supported file types
Enterprise intranet
SharePoint is perfect for building enterprise-level intranets and portals. This powerful tool
  • 1. Empowers employees
  • 2. Boosts communication
  • 3. Improves collaboration within teams
  • 4. Streamlines all day to day processes.
In short, it has become a central repository for all the key information the staff needs to get the job done. SharePoint intranet features include:
  • a. Team, communication, and hub sites to support collaboration across your organization
  • b. Libraries and lists for structured content management
  • c. Intuitive web parts and pages
  • d. Ready-to-use add-ins and widgets
  • e. Flexible content sharing options
  • f. Built-in workflow management capabilities
  • g. Enterprise-wide search capabilities
  • h. Social features (communities, awards, forums, media galleries, etc.)
  • I. Third-party integration (CRM, ERP, etc)
Knowledge Management
Both DMS and SharePoint Knowledge management (KM) are about finding the right information/ document faster when you need it. The core difference between these add-ins is the content type and relevance. While DMS helps store and retrieve any document from a specific location, KMS helps users find content that solves a specific problem or answers a specific question. KM helps multiple departments sharing specific information with access permissions to each other. User access permissions control the distribution of information to specific people in your organization. SharePoint allows searching for knowledge and content by a file name, keywords, and metadata as well as rating search results by relevancy. SharePoint is a perfect tool for creating your company Knowledge Management portal because of features like:
  • a. User Access permissions
  • b. Robust search functionality
  • c. Setting notifications when information is shared
  • d. Inter-departmental collaboration
HR process automation
SharePoint automates HR processes and procedures, including: SharePoint administers various HR activities like:
  • a. Scheduling and approving vacations
  • b. Approving employment contracts
  • c. Payroll management
  • d. Managing shifts
  • e. Registering sick leaves
  • f. Employee performance evaluation
  • g. Certification Management
  • h. Skills analysis
Creating Custom workflows
Microsoft designed SharePoint with the business process management in mind, so it offers a range of options for setting up, maintaining, and executing workflows. This includes several built-in workflows for the most common processes such as getting approvals, collecting feedbacks or signatures. However, the customization capabilities in SharePoint allow enterprises to create custom workflows to automate complex business processes like
  • a. Bid or tender management
  • b. Employee hiring and onboarding
  • c. Contract management
  • d. Help desk ticketing system
  • e. Customer care complaint center
Creating custom workflows may involve some coding, so it is advisable to work with SharePoint experts or developers who can turn complex processes into a digital workflow with proper user access permissions, data integrations, email notification, and insightful analytical dashboards.
Conclusion
If your company already uses SharePoint or Office 365, it is vital to ensure you know all the ways you can tap the full potential of your license. The benefits and use cases above, help you understand the best ways to leverage SharePoint to automate your business processes. At Beyond Intranet, we have a team of SharePoint developers who can help you customize your SharePoint system based on your specific needs. Our offerings include:
  • Free Audit of your SharePoint environment
  • Full-service SharePoint consulting
  • SharePoint add-in and workflow development
  • Custom app development
  • Third-party integrations
  • Upgrades and migration
  • Branding and personalization
  • Support and maintenance
  • Business Intelligence solutions
Contact us today at contact@beyondintranet.com to discuss your Project.