If you’ve ever participated in a team building session or retreat, you can probably identify with this image. Team building is not just about collaboration, it’s also about trust. In this case, trust that your team will work together to catch you before you fall!

SharePoint Collaboration

There’s a reason why a typical resume usually contains the words “team player,” which is also a phrase that comes up regularly in job interviews. Employers stress the ability to work as a team just as much as the ability to work independently.

This is particularly true in today’s workplace, where a company’s staff is not limited to employees who come into the office every day. Indeed, that’s rarely the case anymore. Remote employees (often in their PJs) certainly need to work independently. But they also need to figure out how to work on a team, the members of which could be situated across multiple time zones.

For projects to be successfully executed, these far-flung project team members need to come together in new ways. Documents need to shared, reviewed, edited, and approved. Then shared, reviewed, edited, and approved again … and again. And that’s just one small example of workplace collaboration.

Once upon a time, email (the best invention since sliced bread) was the obvious vehicle for document sharing. This round robin of emails, however, was often like a game of “telephone” where the message becomes more and more diluted the further one gets from the source. Just picture how this might work:

Team member 1 shares a document via email. Team member 2 comments on team member 1’s document. Team member 3 comments on team member 1’s document and on team member 2’s comments. Team member 4 comments on team member 1’s document, team member 2’s comments, and team member 3’s comments. UGH. This is getting really complex. Imagine if there were 20 members of this project team. How would that work? And how would you find the latest version?

Realistically, email was never intended to be a document sharing platform.

Then along came solutions like Microsoft SharePoint. Launched in 2001, SharePoint in its infancy was a true platform for document storage, sharing, management, and version control.

SharePoint Logo - Improve Collaboration

It wasn’t long before developers realized the potential for SharePoint to be much more than that. Fast forward to 2018. Microsoft SharePoint, with 190 million users across 200,000 companies (according to Microsoft), is the new way to work together, connect employees across the enterprise, engage with people beyond your organization, share ideas, and reinvent the way everyone works together.

Because SharePoint is highly configurable, and because SharePoint integrates with so many other applications, its uses have been further developed over the last 17 years. Let’s take a brief look at 5 ways to create a more collaborative workplace using SharePoint.

1) Collaborative Software

SharePoint contains team collaboration “groupware” or “team site” capabilities. These include project scheduling (integrated with Outlook and Project), social collaboration, shared mailboxes, and project related document storage and collaboration.

2) Enterprise Content and Document Management

SharePoint allows for storage, retrieval, searching, archiving, tracking, management, and reporting on electronic documents and records – often designed around legal, information management, process requirements, and encrypted/information rights. SharePoint, which integrates with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, also provides search functionality that doesn’t exist in similar applications.

3) Intranet and Social Network

A SharePoint intranet or intranet portal centralizes access to enterprise information and applications. This helps organizations manage internal communications, applications, and information. Benefits include increased employee engagement, centralized process management, reduced new staff on-boarding costs, and the means to capture and share knowledge via tools such as wikis.

4) Custom Web Applications

SharePoint's custom development capabilities add a layer of services that allow rapid prototyping of integrated Web applications. SharePoint provides developers with integration into corporate directories and data sources through standards such as REST/OData/OAuth. Developers use SharePoint's security and information management capabilities across a variety of development platforms and scenarios.

5) File Hosting Service (Personal Cloud)

SharePoint Server hosts OneDrive for Business, which allows storage and synchronization of an individual's personal documents, as well as public and private file sharing of those documents. This is typically combined with other Microsoft Office Servers and Services, such as Microsoft Exchange, to create a "personal cloud." Imagine – no more worrying about backing up desktop files, no more transferring with thumb drives, easy sharing of documents internally and externally, and no more corporate file share on the network.

In Conclusion

While there are newer document sharing applications available today, such as Box, they do not have the sweeping capabilities of SharePoint. Plus, Microsoft SharePoint also offers an “app store.” The SharePoint Store is a public marketplace that can be accessed directly from a SharePoint site. The Store allows you to purchase apps from third-party developers for personal or organizational use. An app for SharePoint is a small, easy-to-use, stand-alone application that performs a specific task or meets a specific business need.

The C5 Insight team members are SharePoint specialists who can assist you in developing a Microsoft SharePoint site that will transform your company into a more collaborative workplace. Contact us today for more information. Give us a ring at 704-895-2500 or use our contact form to reach out.