4 ways SharePoint can make your life easier

It can cut budgets, save paper and increase productivity, to name a few.

SharePoint allows many companies to provide employees with ways to work better together: greater group collaboration, and ideas and knowledge sharing, for example.

It also streamlines daily tasks through document sharing, search functionality and enhanced workflow. To the user, it’s a great way to get work done, but to your IT department, a successful SharePoint implementation can cut budgets, save paper and increase productivity.

Here’s a look at how basic use saves time and money.

1. Sharing documents

With SharePoint, the days of saving and emailing a document to your team or manager are gone. Aside from the fact that this is a terribly un-collaborative way of sharing information, it is also a strain on your infrastructure and a corporate risk. Use SharePoint as your central document repository and upload your files to a document center or hub rather than your hard drive. This protects your document from unsightly or accidental deletion, and allows for a simple link to be sent between team members rather than a large file floating around cyberspace.

2. Checking in and out

This hotel term is easily understood across the organization. Once uploaded, checking in a document allows other users in the organization access to that file. When another user checks the document out, only that user can save changes to the document. Other users will be locked out from editing the text, while still providing read-only access so content can be read. Those users will see the original text, which will be updated with any changes when it is checked back in. This is particularly useful in large organizations where tracking information and prohibiting multiple changes is imperative.

3. Workflow

Regardless of what you may have heard about workflow, don’t believe the hype—it’s not difficult! Workflow can be easily created for business situations that require multiple users or notifications. For example, if a timesheet is uploaded to a document library, a workflow can be kicked off to email a manager that an approval is required. Further notifications or actions can then be tied to that notification, such as a confirmation to the employee, or to the reviewer’s manager to let them know the notification is pending.

Don’t worry about designing a complex workflow. SharePoint comes with site templates to simply the process, including a “publishing site with workflow,” which creates a site for publishing Web pages on a schedule by using approval workflows.

4. Easier navigation

Many users complain of being daunted by a new system. SharePoint provides out-of-the-box templates which can provide great simplicity when creating sites. Websites are typically created in a column form, allowing users to easily view information and access the site. SharePoint provides two-, three-, and four-column templates which can easily be applied to your site, with many different vertical and horizontal options to choose from.

Regardless of your company size or needs, SharePoint can make your life easier. Applying these tips to your business can provide simple ways to improve your environment and buy-in from the business.

Eric is the executive vice president of Systems Integration of Concatenate, Inc., a software firm focused on maximizing SharePoint through product innovation and systems integration based in Toronto, Canada. Eric is the author of “SharePoint for Decision Makers,” coming out this summer. You can reach him by email at ericr@concatenateinc.com and read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at www.ericriz.com.

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