Sharepoint or What's the point?

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Sharepoint is steadily becoming the defacto standard collaboration tool in most organisations. And why not? It's a toolset targeted at collaboration and has many features designed to make the storage, management and access of all types of information easy. The base platform is even given away free by Microsoft if you are already using Exchange mail.

However, many people will tell you about their bad experiences with Sharepoint in that they could never understand it or how to find stuff in it. Now this is strange as one thing Sharepoint is designed to do is to make things easy to locate. So why is it not working for them?

Sharepoint actually suffers from being too accessible and easy to get up and running.

Most organisations simply install Sharepoint out-of-the-box, set up access for users and leave them to get on with self management of their area. In most cases this results in people simply uploading documents for sharing with others - in fact, in this mode Sharepoint is probably less usable than the company shared drive.

So how can you make your Sharepoint implementation the tool that the Microsoft marketing teams promise?

There are some fundamental things you need to do to unlock the benefits of Sharepoint using features which may not be immediately apparent - none of which require an upgrade of your Sharepoint platform.

Get your taxonomy right and your access will come naturally. The default knowledge structure or taxonomy is too basic and not modelled around your business. You need create a structure which reflects the way you do business and the type of information you need. By modelling your own processes and structures you will enable users to find things they need based on how they would find them naturally within your business.

Differentiate between 'collaboration areas' and 'storage areas'. Treating work in progress differently to completed work is important as the activities people perform are fundamentally different. For example, a team working together on a new bid may gather lots of related material, create multiple drafts of particular documents and manage updates from many people. Once the bid is complete the final documents need to move to a storage area where there will be many related and non-related items. To make the storage area useful it requires good navigation, relevant contextual information and links to related information.

Invest in keeping your knowledge organised efficiently.  By investing a little in the housekeeping of your Sharepoint content you will ensure that people continue to find the information they need quickly. Divide up the work and find owners of particular areas who have responsibility for keeping content relevant and categorised correctly. These 'Sharepoint Stewards'  should understand the business area they are responsible for and using features such as views and alerts can quickly resolve any mis-categorised items. Little and often is the key.


If you are using Sharepoint but are still wondering why it's not meeting the marketing promise, why not talk to us about our Sharepoint Health-Check or our Target Sharepoint Models?   For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or download our Top Tips.

Peter Weare

Industry leader in mobile location. Passionate about delivering a frictionless consumer mobile experience. Regular commenter on getting delivery right.

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