“The new way of working” is a phrase which is used quite often nowadays. It doesn’t just mean working from home or starting your day later, it means working together in a flexible and collaborative way. Some people are just more productive in the morning, while others might concentrate better during the evening, or even capture ideas during small talk with colleagues.
In order to achieve this flexible collaboration we need to be able to work with the same information. Not yesterday’s document, but a document of just a few minutes ago, or even better: right now. For personal purposes you might be using platforms such as Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive. As an organisation however, you don’t want to have to create an account for each individual and let them decide who to share this confidential information with. You will want to manage these structures and their rights yourself, but at the same time you want to offer them the possibility to have some freedom within their sections. You want to let people inside and outside your organisation have insights into the work that you are performing. Only that way can you be truly collaborative.
Microsoft’s answer to this is Microsoft SharePoint. It is a platform which is talked about a lot, but what kind of advantages does this platform have? And what kind of additional value does it offer an organisation? The only requirement to use this platform is a machine equipped with a modern internet browser. As long as there is internet available, you can progress with all of your work, which is also up to date and fully synced. But let’s be honest, it will be easier if you are running Microsoft Office 2010 or higher. But what if you only have a tablet? In that case there are Office Web-Apps, an online version of Microsoft Office which only requires an internet browser. This helps you to continue to work on all your documents on SharePoint. It isn’t as extensive, but it is surely enough to help you advance in your work.
SharePoint, as the name already suggests, is a product which helps you to share and to connect information. You can choose to publish Outlook calendars online.Your online documentation can be synchronised locally, so that you can proceed with your tasks when you don’t have internet at a particular moment. The integrations with Microsoft Exchange, Office and Lync are just a few examples of close collaborations and products which work instantly and out of the box. Because it is an online platform, the possibilities to extend it are endless with the current web technology.
But what does this mean in reality? Think about some scenarios, like:
- How can I find the right document quickly?
- How can I share my folders and documentation with others, without having them modify or even print them without my permission?
- How can I work on my document, while it is opened and in use by somebody else?
- How can I retrieve an older version (without asking system administrators)?
- How do I know whether my document is good enough? Will my manager like the result? I want to know ASAP!
- How do I, as a project leader, know how I am doing without constantly bothering my team members?
SharePoint has the potential to support a great deal of the needs of an organisation. In our daily work we increasingly see more usage of tablets and ultrabooks. These are more compact, more mobile, easier to charge during transport and have a much longer battery life than laptops and are thus ideal for people who are often on the road. Connectivity with ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV and AX, or other external systems like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or even third party systems is also available for optimum integration and collaboration between your different touch points. All of this is possible, and is just a small portion of the endless possibilities. Do you have a small organisation and do you expect SharePoint to be too expensive? Think again: starting at £2.50 per user per month (yes, two pounds fifty) you can have SharePoint at your service.