Benefits of Microsoft SharePoint | Microbyte

Benefits of Microsoft SharePoint

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Microsoft SharePoint is primarily a web-based app for business. It allows approved users to store files, share collaboratively, and create both intranet and public websites. Public sites are for JV partners or outside contacts to use. Private intranet sites relate to companies, divisions, departments, and project leaders, informing and updating employees on the latest progress or relevant company news.

More than 200 million professionals now access the SharePoint platform, and has a significant market share in FTSE 100 businesses. It’s used as a central file repository to create websites, update notes in OneNote, and converse in Microsoft Teams and Outlook Groups. The web-based interface makes it easy to complete any of these tasks.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a collaboration tool. Using the app, it’s possible to quickly create intranet websites (or subsites) for content management and internally sharing business information. Making a site public is possible but less common. The home page updates automatically when either new pages or news articles are posted. Using SharePoint, businesses streamline sharing relevant information across the company or within smaller internal groups.

Document storage is another important feature. As a shared file repository, SharePoint uses cloud storage for document sharing from a central location. It’s also heavily integrated with other apps within Microsoft 365, with links to group discussions and email support, notebooks, Teams channels, and more.

Microsoft SharePoint has multiple versions: SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server. The former is a cloud-based document management and website creation app. The latter allows businesses to install the server locally and access the features within a closed IT environment.

SharePoint is included in most Microsoft 365 business subscription plans – one notable exception is the ‘Microsoft 365 Apps for Business’ plan. As a business-oriented app, it isn’t usually found on Microsoft 365 Personal plans. Therefore, outside of users already familiar with it, the software is often unknown to others.  

From now on, we’ll primarily refer to the cloud-based SharePoint version. Presented as a web-based interface, it’s accessible using web browsers. The interface’s appearance is like Microsoft Teams, Word Online, and other Microsoft apps. Therefore, it’s easy to learn and use.


gif showing how to view teams folders in sharepoint

Core Benefits of Using SharePoint

To better understand how useful SharePoint will be in your business, we outline some of the core SharePoint benefits below:

Effortless, Real-Time Collaboration

Team collaboration across active documents enhances workflow. Editing is in real-time, with changes syncing to the cloud. SharePoint features version controls, too. These provide admin control, plus version history records listing recent versions of the same file.

The use of a web interface for file management, and powerful search features deliver advanced file controls to companies.

To track who’s accessed a document, files get checked out and then checked back in once editing is complete. Therefore, file owners see who’s accessed a file and when it occurred. Comparing differences between file versions is possible. File owners may roll back any changes to previous file iterations.

Document Sharing

SharePoint uses a document library with centralised storage. Access to files and documents is controlled via file permission levels. These allow different access levels (or not) set by either the file’s owner or business managers/administrators.

Rather than employees relying on files stored locally on the company’s or personal laptop, or on a vast network drive where files are easy to misplace, centralisation simplifies project management. Group access, for example, for a particular project, is extendable to the entire team. Some authorised users only have read-only permissions, whereas others enjoy raised permissions, including editing, sharing, and other actions.

For administrators, document libraries control access while simultaneously removing previous complications surrounding company documents. Cloud access also conveniently allows authorised access from anywhere.

Enhanced Security

Robust compliance, authentication enhancements, and security guidelines implemented within SharePoint ensure regulatory needs are met. Data security requirements provide control of sites and subsites, folders, lists, documents, and apps. Audit and approval are requestable, right down to individual files, with managers approving access. This delivers a raised audited level of oversight within SharePoint and Microsoft 365.

From a security standpoint, they protect unauthorised access using a multi-layered approach. File access approvals, for example, are so strong that former employees with revoked permissions cannot access company documents stored on a removable USB flash drive. Furthermore, cloud backups include data encryption to prevent meaningful, illicit access to proprietary information.

Metadata Over Traditional Folders

SharePoint includes a standard collection of file metadata. These allow creators to add relevant information to improve the file’s classification and searchability. Such taxonomies are an improvement over complicated folder-based structures, rendering documents impossible to locate.

Meta options include the file author, file name, file type, content type, and creation data. Tags and short-form descriptions add categories and more context. For spreadsheet users, the number of columns is also noted.

Consistent User Experience

From the cloud-based SharePoint, accessing apps, sites, documents, notebooks, and collaborative internal communications via web browsers is highly convenient.

The interface for SharePoint boasts multi-purpose functionality via a streamlined user experience. The UI is largely similar to other Microsoft 365 apps, and for users, it feels right at home.

Looking at the standard user interface, the header confirms the user’s current location. Down the far left side of the browser are the main navigation icons, including Home, My Sites, My News, and My Files. Clicking any of these updates on the Quick Launch menu bar to its right.

Also, a horizontal context-sensitive menu bar is below the Header and to the right of the Quick Launch section. It updates to provide relevant options based on what the user is viewing.

To view the SharePoint Online user interface, please see the video below:

High Customisability

SharePoint provides a consistent UI. Yet it’s also customisable to the needs of your business.

For site creation, a new blog site or sharing the thoughts of a business leader are two of many potential uses. You can build custom elements or add ‘web parts’ directly to any site, subsite, or group created. Think of these like widgets to add (or remove) and slide into position.

Adding previously created apps produced inside the Microsoft Power Apps tool is also possible. Integration with other Microsoft apps, such as the Office apps, Power BI, Teams, Exchange, or Project, is also supported.

Furthermore, with enhanced integration, streamlining using site consolidation potentially reduces intranets to a manageable number.

Beyond the Microsoft ecosystem, SharePoint has event handlers and uses APIs to access third-party data. Other technologies, such as SOAP and XML, extend their reach to retrieve file information supported by these standards.  

Boosted Productivity

Inefficient business processes are costly. Organisations look for tools to boost employee productivity while streamlining existing procedures.

Utilising industry data informs business decision-making. SharePoint includes back-end support to import data. Validation rules ensure correct data formatting. They prevent duplicate records, too.

A simplified folder and sub-folder structure, combined with metadata records, keep the hierarchy smaller. Non-tech users stay organised rather than get lost in the tall grass.

Cloud-Based Platform

PowerPoint has both SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Server offers on-premises access via the company’s internet network and intranet. Sensitive data remains away from the cloud, which is ideal for businesses with data security needs requiring or preferring this. The interface and functionality are much like the web-based cloud version.

SharePoint Online is a cloud-based integrated platform and part of Microsoft 365’s eco-system. When using other Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Office suite of apps online, the interface and features are familiar. As a cloud solution, SharePoint is accessible 24/7 from anywhere.

Centralised Information Centre

SharePoint is a centralised information centre. Its document management, versioning, user access tracking, and sharing options are second to none. Users have easy access to authorised files from any location.

After selecting a file, it’s opened within the browser tab using the relevant Microsoft app supporting that file type. This provides either read-only or enhanced access capabilities, where appropriate. They achieve all this inside the web browser, allowing work to be completed across different devices and platforms.

Advanced Functionalities of SharePoint

SharePoint enjoys some advanced features:

  • Advanced search functionality to locate files, news stories, sites, and more immediately.
  • Rapid creation of key sites, and small subsites, for short-term projects.
  • SharePoint mobile apps on iOS and Android for mobile devices.
  • Files are shared both internally and externally.
  • Integrated communications via Outlook groups and Teams groups/channels.  

Comparative Advantages

Different Microsoft 365 subscriptions allow businesses to choose the appropriate plan for each employee. Some plans include SharePoint and advanced security-related apps, whereas others do not.

Charged per user, Microsoft 365 scales with the company. Add Microsoft plan licenses appropriately as your company’s headcount increases. Cost savings are achieved by matching the best subscription plan to the new person’s role.

Microsoft’s ecosystem works seamlessly between different online apps. Efficiently moving between them is virtually effortless.

Monitoring and Reporting

Administrators monitor resources used within SharePoint to understand usage patterns better. Management can proactively respond to training opportunities or a need to launch a new subsite. For example, spotting the need, a subsite can be spun up to provide project news and reports to team members frustrated by the lack of information.

Updating currently selected subscription plans based on future work assignments is also possible. Either to expand the selection an employee has access to or to reduce them to a smaller set of relevant apps.

Conclusion

Over 200 million people use SharePoint, encouraging businesses to take a more collaborative workflow approach. Whether launching a new site as a SharePoint intranet for company-wide access or offering a protected file repository with advanced search capabilities, productivity, and communication are boosted by using SharePoint.

Looking to implement SharePoint in your organisation? Contact our IT support team today!

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