Is SharePoint Right for Your Small or Medium-Sized Business?

If your small or medium-sized business is using Microsoft Small Business Server, you have access to a powerful bundled tool with SharePoint. If your business is not already using SharePoint, here are some things it can do for your organization.

  • Collaborate with colleagues on shared documents and files
  • Search for files in your document libraries
  • Manage content throughout your organization by including revision history, security controls for access rights, and document approval
  • Create intranet and extranet websites to share content internally or with clients

Because SharePoint is a Microsoft product it integrates directly with many of the tools your business uses already. Outlook, Exchange and Office all tie into the SharePoint product to allow your employees to access the features and functionality of SharePoint while using tools with which they are already familiar.

SharePoint provides many advantages over the traditional file share method of document storage and management employed by many small and medium-sized businesses. The traditional method involves people accessing separate versions of the same file that is emailed to them for modification and then emailed back. If multiple people need to make changes to the document, it becomes someone’s responsibility to take the changes made and incorporate them into a master version of the document. In cases where all employees have access to the same file, that file will be locked for editing while someone else has it open. SharePoint solves that problem by allowing multiple users to access and edit the document simultaneously while keeping track of the edits through version control. This feature alone is enough for many organizations to install and start using SharePoint. Documents can be tagged with meta data to allow for easy searching across the entire platform or within a department subsite. Approval processes can be setup with workflow to allow managers and teammates to sign off on final documents before they are published. By using SharePoint libraries you can stores documents related to specific clients or partners while keeping track of when and who edited or viewed those documents. With the version control built in, it is simple to rollback to an earlier version if needed or request more information about a change from the person who made it. If your business has many files and documents passing through multiple people, this feature can save your organization from the hassles of mistakes and time it takes to track down and fix them.

By creating intranet websites with SharePoint for your company, you can offer company-wide or department-specific areas for commonly used forms and templates, announcements, surveys, and wikis. Employees can have one place to go for information about HR policies, FAQs, and internal job postings as well. Intranets make your employees more effective at their job by providing access to information that would otherwise take time to track down.

By creating an extranet with SharePoint you can open your data and documents securely to clients and partners through the use of permissions-based access controls. Allowing external access saves time and money by reducing the phone calls and emails requesting information and the time needed to locate and send it. Instead, it puts the content requested by your partners and clients directly in the hands of the people that need it.

The SharePoint calendaring function offers advantages over Outlook shared calendars as well. Plan meetings and resources more effectively by offering the ability to reserve rooms and resources and plan staff meetings. Using the calendar to plan vacations within a department can ensure that critical jobs are covered during planned absences too. And if hardware and resources need downtime for maintenance or upgrades, the SharePoint calendar can help plan the ideal time for these to occur with a minimal impact on your business.

SharePoint offers project management functionality for your business or department as well. By creating task lists associated with projects and assigning tasks to employees, managers can see the progress made through the reporting features available. The task management features within SharePoint allow notifications to be sent to when new tasks are added or the status of the task is changed.

These functions just scratch the surface of what SharePoint is capable of. As a development platform, it can be optimized with applications to suit your specific business needs. By using 3rd party add-ons or custom development, SharePoint can be tailored to fit your business and become an integral part of managing data and documents. Use SharePoint to help your business run more smoothly so you can focus more on growing it.