Microsoft SharePoint has evolved so much since its inception in 2001, it’s hard to sum it up in just one word. In more than one, it’s a web-based platform designed to enhance collaboration through cloud storage, content management and data sharing – simple!
The most common use for SharePoint is company intranets, such as the Scottish Government’s Saltire, as you can build and tailor your own space to what it needs to be. SharePoint Online is Microsoft’s cloud-based version of the SharePoint product and what we’ll be discussing today.
With a heavy focus on collaboration, one of the overarching benefits of SharePoint Online is increased productivity. But, how exactly does it boost production and why should you use SharePoint Online in your organisation?
One of the biggest advantages of SharePoint Online is it’s based on the cloud. That means it can be accessed anywhere, at any time; all you need is a web browser. This is especially useful for access on mobile devices. Using the cloud also means it grows as you do and it reduces the likelihood of loss or damage to your data, as you no longer need to rely on physical servers to house all your information that could be physically damaged. SharePoint Online also benefits from always being up-to-date and receiving new features first.
It’s a centralised hub
Microsoft SharePoint Online facilitates the centralisation of resources, putting everything in one easy-to-access location. Not only do employees no longer need to go searching here, there and everywhere for what they need, managers can oversee everything and ensure processes are streamlined. As an efficient content management system, SharePoint Online saves you time and effort.
Seamless integration with Microsoft Office
As it is a product of Microsoft, it’s designed to work effortlessly with Microsoft Office Suite. So, if you use Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word or Outlook on a daily basis in your workplace (which most of us do), it makes things that much easier. It also gives you the option of quickly editing documents in your browser or opening them natively on your desktop, but no matter which you choose, the changes will be saved in the drive.
What’s more, colleagues can work collaboratively on the same document at the same time, which saves generating multiple versions and getting lost in them! You can see a live feed of who is in the document with you and refresh it to see the changes they’ve made. SharePoint Online also lives up to its name by making file sharing as easy as clicking a button, so you can invite others (internal or external) to edit the document you’re working on.
You can roll back to earlier versions
Speaking of versions, SharePoint Online automatically keeps a handy version history of documents. Not only is this useful for rolling back to an earlier version, should you need to, you can also see who has contributed to the document over time. This is just another way SharePoint Online makes collaboration among colleagues that bit easier.
It’s customisable to your needs
Another one of SharePoint’s advantages is how customisable it is. Of course, you have the option to keep the default features, but having the option to develop your own custom elements is a huge asset. This ensures your team have what they need at their fingertips, which goes a long way to boosting productivity. It also means you can customise your SharePoint Online space with your organisation’s branding to really make it your own.
OneDrive makes storage simple
Say goodbye to local storage with OneDrive for Business. This allows you to save and sync files to SharePoint Online, essentially uploading to the cloud. OneDrive reduces the need for local storage space and ensures you can access documents wherever and whenever you need to, eliminating the risk of saving something to your desktop where no one can access it. You can also control individual permissions on OneDrive if you want to share your documents with specific colleagues only.
Delve ensures transparency
Staying true to its collaborative nature, Delve allows you to view not only your own documents and activity across SharePoint Online, but those of your colleagues too. Using a visual interface, you can quickly access files you’ve been working on and get a glimpse of what your colleagues have been doing, as well. You can also view ‘popular’ documents, but you can only see documents you have access to.
You can search for pretty much anything
While it may not be the most exciting element of SharePoint Online, it’s incredibly handy to be able to search for what you need. As with any portal that has many users, it can sometimes be difficult to find content, especially in large sites. SharePoint’s search engine has evolved massively over the various iterations and is now an incredibly powerful asset in aiding users in discoverability. It can index a whole host of content from the obvious documents and files to the more unexpected, including people and even external content. The SharePoint search engine is also dynamic and will adjust the ranking of search results based on user interactions ensuring users always get the most relevant results.
Integration with Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s alternative to Slack and is underpinned by the technologies of Office 365 (SharePoint, Outlook, Planner, Skype etc.). At a Team’s heart lies a SharePoint modern team site, which stores any documents related to the Team. However, this site can be extended to do so much more with the combination of SharePoint modern pages and the SharePoint Framework (SPFX) to create pages with rich functionality, which can then be surfaced within a Team.
To really make the most of the benefits of SharePoint Online, it’s invaluable to work with someone who knows what they’re doing – that’s where we come in. We have a host of experienced SharePoint Developers at Storm to guide you through your next project, from inception to completion and beyond. Get in touch with the team today to discuss your options.