5 tips on how to make the most out of your SharePoint investment

There is little doubt that Microsoft SharePoint is an incredibly useful tool, one that thousands of businesses around the world rely on for document management, project management, content management, intranet portals and more. It is the ultimate enterprise collaboration tool.

Getting more out of your SharePoint investment will help your organisation become more collaborative and increase productivity. Ultimately, this will improve an organisation’s bottom line and make it more profitable.

Here are 5 tips on how to get the most out of your SharePoint investment. All the tips are of equal importance and in no particular order. Enjoy the read.

1. Understand SharePoint

Many organisations are unaware of the true power of SharePoint. There are myriad reasons why that’s the case. Some users feel SharePoint meets their needs and look no further for additional functionality, while others simply lack knowledge of SharePoint’s true breadth of functionality and fail to make the most of it. One example is SharePoint Workflow Automation options, including task approval, signature collection, etc.

SharePoint is mainly being used for collaboration. People can share files with each other and simultaneously work on documents and store them. Because everyone can access the files, there is always one version of the truth, rather than multiple duplications of documents with different edits.

To understand SharePoint and stay up to date on new functionality, you can follow different blogs, subscribe to YouTube channels, etc. Alternatively, you can find a Continuous Improvement service provider like Intelogy. This will provide you with cost-effective access to a team of highly skilled professionals to support, guide, build and provide consultative services. Our team will work alongside you to get more from your SharePoint investment and to relieve that nagging doubt you may have in the back of your mind that the technology is able to do so much more.

2. Make it your own

For those companies with a “buy, don’t build” approach, there might be applications available that claim to offer the functionality you need. However, an off-the-shelf application is unlikely to offer the full customisation that organisations with complex systems and requirements may really need.

When buying off the shelf applications, an organisation can end up paying a considerable sum of money for features they don’t need just to get one feature they do need. That’s not the best use of time or money. You should look into bespoke SharePoint development. One clear benefit of this is compliance; businesses that use off-the-shelf applications cannot be sure that they meet all the necessary rules and regulations. This is critical for highly regulated industries such as pharmaceutical, financial services, oil and gas and the aviation industry.

One of our customers from the pharmaceutical industry needed to ensure that its workflow system was fully compliant following a recent change in the law. We were brought in to redesign the company’s existing workflow app to improve auditability as well as simplifying and streamlining the workflows.

Besides this, take some time to think about any custom webparts to support specific needs your organisations might have.

3. Metadata

Metadata is information about a file, document or record, such as the name, author, creation date, file size, etc. This information will be displayed in columns within your SharePoint site. You can use metadata to make it easy for users to locate and manage content in the SharePoint environment. According to a McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day searching and gathering information. On average, that’s 9.3 hours per week. This time can simply be reduced with access to the relevant metadata.

When you first create a new SharePoint site and open the document library, there will be four metadata tags/ site columns visible by default and these will be filled in automatically and displayed.

  1. Type: What kind of file is this (Excel spreadsheet, PDF, etc.)
  2. Name: The name of the file
  3. Modified: When was the file last modified
  4. Modified By: Who was the last person to modify the file

But beyond these tags, there are many others you can turn on and you can even create custom metadata columns that are more relevant to your data.

Metadata in SharePOint

Applying metadata can take some time when you are adding documents to a SharePoint library. But it’s a critical exercise if you want to enhance the search functionality. Through the SharePoint Search bar, you can use the metadata tags to find the files you need. The more accurate your metadata is, the faster this process becomes and the more time you can save. There are also open-source solutions such as the PnP Framework that provide even greater enhancements to search when metadata is in place, giving you intuitive refinement and greater control over the user experience itself.

4. User adoption is key for SharePoint success

One of the most critical aspects of SharePoint success is user adoption. Rolling out a SharePoint Intranet costs time and effort, so you will want to justify this expense with a projected return on investment. SharePoint can increase productivity and efficiency whilst at the same time lower operational costs. Your users need to fully understand SharePoint to use it to its full potential. Only then you can maximise your ROI.

More importantly, user adoption isn’t only important for ROI. SharePoint should benefit its users and relieve the daily workload. User adoption campaigns and change management are critical to ensure everyone is familiar with the tool and is using it as expected. A training plan is vital to successful user adoption. Business champions (advocates) within the organisation can drive successful change throughout the organisation and they will only be able to do this if they are fully aware of all new functionality available.

5. Integrate apps into SharePoint

SharePoint provides great opportunities to easily integrate Third-Party applications into your platform. Whether it is business process management (BPM), decision support systems or systems that support and add value to a business, such as business intelligence (BI), finance, audit and compliance, reporting or resource management, integrating applications into SharePoint can unlock value hidden across your business. These can be custom-developed solutions using SPFx, or Power Apps built by specialists or Citizen Developers.

Kennedys is one of our clients that has discovered the benefits of integrating applications into SharePoint. This law firm was using an extranet to securely communicate with its clients, but maintaining it required lots of direct involvement from the IT department. We designed a web application that ran on top of Microsoft SharePoint that enabled new, secure sites to be provisioned quickly and simply, pulling information from existing internal platforms, and allowing external clients to access and interact with their data. The integration of Kennedys’ extranet solution with its heavily customised and complex internal environment required customised work from Intelogy and the end result was a much-improved environment that enabled Kennedys to identify opportunities for deeper and richer collaboration internally and externally.

These tips are a handful of ways to maximise return on investment not just in your SharePoint environment, but in Microsoft 365 as a whole. Intelogy can help you unlock the doors to achieve the greatest potential for your SharePoint environment.

Intelogy understands that every customer is unique. We have over 25 years’ experience, so the knowledge, skills and drive are all there to help customers truly maximise their SharePoint investment. We help realise the potential of technology a business has already invested in, whether it is via the utilisation of out-of-the-box capabilities, creation of bespoke applications or customisation of applications that are already in use. This, coupled with extensive experience in digital transformation and change management strategies provides you with everything you need to make the most of the platform.

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