SharePoint – not just another ‘file share’?

kirkBy Kirk Schafer, Director, Dac Systems

Using SharePoint as just another file share to store content that you have on your “My Documents” is surely one way of using this powerful tool – but what a waste!

One of the inherent strengths of SharePoint is the ability to automatically tag content you add to it, with the correct metadata. With the ability to automatically move content to the correct library it should reside in, according to your File Plan, SharePoint is an invaluable tool to ensure your content is effectively stored with minimal effort.

But adding content is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint online (Office 365), to get the maximum benefit, you should be using the Search functionality to its optimum.

Just like you utilise search engines like Bing or Google to find your content, you should be doing exactly the same with SharePoint. Its great search capability is one of its strongest features!

SharePoint, used strategically and correctly, will add value to your business. Invariably the level of buy-in from top management is not as great as, say you were deploying another critical line of business solution. And this is where companies consistently get it wrong.

You need to treat SharePoint as you would any other critical Line Of Business (LOB) system you are deploying. You would not expect your staff to just start using the latest enterprise software tomorrow, without the proper training and the correct amount of change management? So why should SharePoint be any different?

Is there any other file share that can save you from having to explain why you cannot find the contract signed 3 years ago, which is now being looked for by the Head of Legal, or when the CEO wants the last signed NDA between your and another company – can you find it with just one search? In SharePoint you can!

The eDiscovery functionality will assist you to uncover content stored in the system that could have been changed, and which is now required for some litigation, audit or investigation. This will give you the peace of mind that you can keep a finger on what is happening with the digital content in your company.

SharePoint integrates fully with all the other Microsoft Office suite of products, and allows you to access external data from most LOB solutions.

Add to the above its many social features, from the Community Sites to the Newsfeeds, and the ability to use these features to set up, for example, Communities of Practice, make SharePoint a crucial part of your companies Knowledge Management, Communication and Collaboration strategy.

The ability to utilise SharePoint as an Intranet means that it can become your voice to your staff. It enables you to not only get a grip on all the digital content in your company, but keep your staff informed.

There are many Apps in the app store that will allow you to enhance SharePoint to assist with other LOB functions, If, however, you think that it will be able to replace your Financial System, or ERP solution, then you had better go back to the drawing board, as even though it is not “just another file share”, it most certainly will not replace any of those types of solutions.