SharePoint Online – for whom and what?

In today’s rapidly evolving business world, it is crucial to be efficient and quick Here, SharePoint Online comes into play — a dynamic tool that has been a ‘game-changer’ for many companies.

Regardless of your role in the company, SharePoint Online has something to offer you. For this, we have highlighted some practical uses of SharePoint Online and common pitfalls to avoid.

But what is SharePoint Online?

SharePoint Online, unlike SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2017, is part of the Microsoft 365 suite – a cloud-based service intended for businesses of all sizes. It allows teams to collaborate in an efficient and secure environment. From storing documents to managing projects, SharePoint Online offers a variety of functions.
And best of all – it comes FREE with Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

What SharePoint Online is great for?

  • • Document management and collaboration: One of the main strengths of SharePoint is a host of useful functionalities that facilitate document handling within a company. It serves as a central place where your team can store, share, and collaboratively work on documents, reducing email and multiple file version confusion. SharePoint Online ensures secure document storage, using Microsoft’s top-level security measures. This means your important business documents are protected against unauthorized access and potential cyber-attacks.
  • • Team sites: Create sites tailored to your team or project needs. Each site can be unique or use site templates to create a standard structure for each project. Each site can establish team access, design, links, folder structure, content pages, and much more. Site creation can also be automated. A team site offers a unified environment for sharing team or project information and documents, facilitating easier collaboration, and keeping the team updated with the latest project information.
  • • Integration with Office 365: Collaborating with colleagues in Word or Excel stored in SharePoint is convenient and quick, mirroring a SharePoint page or documents in Teams is just a few clicks away, and Forms surveys can be easily added to any SharePoint page. These are just a few examples of the tightly integrated services on the MS 365 platform.
  • • Corporate Intranet: SharePoint Online enables the creation of a central platform where employees can find company news, events, employee contacts, view upcoming birthdays, and access other important materials. Thanks to a customizable user interface, every company can create an intranet that reflects their brand and corporate culture.
  • • Workflow automation: Say goodbye to manually doing tedious tasks! With PowerAutomate, SharePoint allows for the automation of daily simple workflows, such as document approval or onboarding processes, saving time and reducing errors. Automation can be implemented for each employee’s tasks or create automated processes for the entire company.
  • • HR processes management: SharePoint efficiently manages processes such as vacation planning, employee arrivals and departures, and other personnel-related procedures. Employees can easily submit vacation requests, track their vacation balances, and managers can quickly approve or reject these requests, making the whole process smoother and more transparent.
  • • Quality management: SharePoint Online is particularly useful for companies that must adhere to ISO standards or other quality management requirements. SharePoint makes it easy to store and manage quality manuals, procedures, ISO documents, and other quality-related documents. Thanks to the precise application of access rights in SharePoint, only the right people have access to the right important documents, ensuring compliance and easy access to necessary information.

This list is far from exhaustive but gives a little insight into how the SharePoint Online platform can be implemented in a company.

What SharePoint Online is not great for?

  • Replacement for a database system: Although SharePoint is excellent for managing various types of information, it does not replace a database system. SharePoint lists can store information like tables and relate tables to each other, but it is not a relational database and is not suitable for large data volumes.
  • • Complex project management: For complex project management needs, a better choice might be specialized software – like Microsoft Project. SharePoint is well-suited for simple to medium complexity project tracking but may not suffice for complex project management.
  • For a homepage or external web: SharePoint Online is primarily intended for internal company use and is not a good choice as a platform for a public homepage or external web. While SharePoint allows creating web pages, it is not intended for complex, high-traffic public websites where advanced SEO features and customized user experiences are necessary. Simpler external web pages can be created using PowerApps Pages.
  • • Warehouse system or ERP: SharePoint Online is not intended for warehouse management and logistics. Although it allows for document management and data storage, it lacks specific functions necessary for efficient warehouse management, such as inventory tracking, shipment tracking, or complex logistics management.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome them

  • • Not knowing how to start: Implementing SharePoint Online might initially seem daunting, especially without prior experience with similar platforms. Like with anything, it is recommended to start with a goal – what SharePoint will be used for? Often the initial plan includes everything – intranet, document management, CRM, etc. Then the plan should be divided into stages, and each stage further detailed. Certainly, involving an external specialist to help the team better understand the system and more clearly turn the goal into a concrete action plan can be helpful.
  • • Lack of knowledge about system capabilities and fear of breaking something: Ignorance about the capabilities and functions of SharePoint Online can cause fear of misusing the system or “breaking something.” To address this concern, it is important to involve an external SharePoint expert and organize thorough trainings or workshops focused on the system’s capabilities and best practices. Often, there is a fear that an external expert is a major expense for the company – but in practice, the cost of initially doing it yourself and later reaching the point where external help is essential turns out to be much greater.
  • • Employee adaptation: Introducing a new tool can be challenging and create resistance among people. Our recommendation is always to start with a small group of people who are curious and enthusiastic about trying new solutions. If a test group of people is already ‘on board,’ then later they also remain support persons for the rest of the collective, from whom to seek advice and encouragement.
  • • Management: Establish clear guidelines on how SharePoint should be used in your organization to avoid misuse or information overload. Creating guides and support materials that help users understand and effectively use the system should certainly be considered. Keep guides and support materials using the SharePoint platform itself.

SharePoint Online is a versatile tool that significantly improves your company’s collaboration and efficiency. However, it is important to understand its capabilities, potential limitations, and follow best practices to get the most out of it.

Do you need more guidance or want to explore how SharePoint Online fits into your company? Definitely contact us, and we’ll make your business operations smoother and more efficient!

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