Microsoft launched “SharePoint”, a platform for web applications to be included in its Office Server Suite. A variety of functions traditionally available as applications themselves have been combined within SharePoint e.g. extranet, intranet, workflow management, document management, web content management, enterprise search and business intelligence.
Essentially, SharePoint gives you secure space for storage, organisation, sharing and accessing of information from whichever device you choose. You only require an internet connection and a browser.
Originally, SharePoint could only be used by businesses that had the relevant server infrastructure on their premises. However, with Office365 in the picture, a version of SharePoint was introduced for users. Thereon, Microsoft witnessed an increase in the usage of SharePoint. Interestingly, with the diversity of functionality offered by SharePoint, businesses have adopted it for a range of uses. Here are eight ways businesses have adopted SharePoint:
SharePoint & Superior Search
Imagine if your content management system took up 2 TBs of data: 1,500 sites, 2 million objects and 69 databases of content. Then try to think if your employees wanted to search through the content and extract information quickly to be able to deliver on-time service to your internal or external customers. That was the scenario an organisation was facing in real time before they decided to sign up for SharePoint. After the migration of content that lasted two weeks, with SharePoint the business made the most of its advance search features:
- Organising search results per document type used most often by an employee
- Results were ranked upon ratings from other employees
- Once information was posted, it became immediately searchable
- Documents could be previewed during searches
- Search results were comprehensive despite names or terms being misspelled
All in all, with assistance from SharePoint, the company was able to create an improved sense of community and also empowered its employees to identify any colleagues who could provide answers to immediate queries.
When a patient’s care is transferred to another shift or a different specialty within the hospital, it is called a “handover”. Despite proper guidelines, many hospitals in the UK were having issues with handovers. In fact, around 3,500 deaths were associated with poor handling of clinical handover during 2009. Apart from patient safety, hospitals were concerned about litigation arising from incidents on account of handovers. Therefore, with the help of SharePoint, a hospital in the UK mapped out a clinical workflow that facilitated major elements of handovers. It was an exercise in improving the process of handover and ensuring organisation-wide patient safety. They aimed to fill any possible gaping holes left uncovered by the hospital’s back-end system. With the system up and running, the hospital benefited in:
- Staff and doctors had the latest information on a patient at all times
- Sensitive information, e.g. resuscitation status was securely stored, however authorised persons could retrieve it whenever they needed it
- An audit trail was created if there was ever a need for litigation purposes
- Teams were productive, and decision making between various specialties improved immensely
Global Workforce Support
A global consultancy for architecture has multiple teams of employees who work in collaboration. Many of the members are either mobile or located in remote areas. They were looking for anything that would help their workers exchange information effectively, award flexibility to internal processes of the business and would basically facilitate the knowledge management process (automatic identification of employee experience and expertise). Any program that would help view and manage tasks, links and documents was a definite consideration. Once SharePoint was deployed, the advantages were clear:
- Employees were able to have productive conversations within the community
- They could share ideas and keep tabs on a colleague’s progress
- Could search within SharePoint’s newsfeed and preview any documents shared within
- All parties would be alerted to any changes made to a “shared” document
- Employees could use an internet enabled device to upload or download from a project’s site
The firm had a complete transformation in how they work. Staff was globally collaborating in real time.
Value Added Manufacturing
A manufacturer that produces overhead cranes was facing the challenge of having to send large volumes of data related to crane design on CDs. The business decided to try out SharePoint’s collaborative features. With the help of SharePoint solutions, they had multiple benefits:
- Quality of the cross-functional teams’ collaboration was enhanced, for instance, the design engineers were able to simultaneously interact with production and customer service
- Machinery and processes were monitored easily, aiding in optimal utilisation of both machinery and inventory
- Work orders were managed and workflows were automatically scheduled
- External portals for collaboration helped streamline the supply chain, providing real-time information to all trade partners.
The manufacturer was subsequently able to produce an increase in output – 85% per month!
The eventual take away from this is that in a time of globalisation, volatile economies and new business models, you need something to give you a competitive edge. As a company, you’re always finding ways that take your organisation a level above while maintaining your position. Small efforts such as an improvement in productivity can help make or break you. If you’re interested, you should definitely try out Microsoft’s SharePoint which promises to deliver competitive advantage while asking for very little investment.