Hardware & Software
5 Benefits of SharePoint 2013
July 24, 2015
For those of you, including myself, who work within an Office 365 environment, this article may give you a broader view of unused applications at your disposal. It’s been awhile since we talked about the benefits of SharePoint.
1. Collaboration and Communication
Collaboration is key in the workplace. SharePoint Online with Office 365 applications empowers you with the tools to collaborate and communicate in new and efficient ways. With alerts, mobility, newsfeed, and sites, you can collaborate and communicate with every person at your organization.
Alerts in One Place
The Office 365 navigation bar became more mobile friendly on the desktop and made it easier to see and read all alerts for the calendar, document updates, newsfeed items, and everything else in a simple drop down menu.
Don’t let yourself become a victim of information overload due to an abundance of alerts. Tracking documents, projects, calendars, and as many updates as humanly possible may contribute to anxiety. I suggest that you use alerts in moderation for the important and time sensitive items. Some people are built to withstand the pressure of 20-30 daily alerts and 200 emails, while others don’t function well with that background clutter.
SharePoint and Office 365 are compatible with mobile devices. Business communication tools are worthless unless they are mobile friendly. Everyone lives with their smartphones attached at the hip. SharePoint offers an optimized mobile browser view, push notifications for Windows Phones, and Office Web Apps. You can download the Office Web Apps and even a SharePoint Newsfeed to stay updated from your mobile device.
The biggest benefit entails being able to access shared SharePoint sites, access OneDrive, open documents and resources. If the mobile experience bothers you, then switch to desktop view on your mobile device.
Microsoft SharePoint Online and Office 365 are designed to be compatible with Windows Phone devices first and then Android and iOS operating systems. Ideally your employees would access SharePoint sites and applications with a Windows Phone. Fortunately, every organization employs IT admins to configure those Android and iOS devices to work with mobile versions and applications for SharePoint and Office 365 Apps.
The social sharing functions built into the Newsfeed allow you to @mention people, share content, follow one another, see a person’s activity, and do much more. The Newsfeed is essentially Facebook fused with Twitter for you and your work pals to communicate with one another.
The main benefit includes the ability to stay updated on projects or tasks by tracking keywords, following conversations and activities.
Not everyone appreciates or works well with social media styled collaboration tools. Not everyone works their best through social collaboration tools such as a newsfeed. I prefer isolation the majority of the time. The Newsfeed option can be a distraction.
Every person can upload documents and content to the Team Site, OneDrive and even maintain a work blog to share with other team members. Creating a centralized content hub for all work documents on the Team Site gives teams flexibility, convenience, and no excuse for forgetting at documents back at the office.
I enjoy having designated sites and boards for large and smaller projects where people document task updates and post comments and questions. The Site creates a viewable timeline of project progress for later evaluation to analyze issues that arose, how people worked together, and other factors that prove valuable in improving project communication, efficiency, and success.
Every person in your organization needs to see the value of sites to make it valuable. If only 2 out of 5 people on the sales team knows how to access promotional documents on the Team Site while the others continually bother them or other people to print those documents, this lack of awareness gap creates problems.
Ensure everyone understands the full power of the Team Site by enlisting them in SharePoint training. Otherwise, emailing or informally telling them about it does nothing to guarantee they start to take the software seriously. If employees aren’t properly trained, don’t understand the software’s features, don’t utilize it, then there’s little return on the invest of purchasing SharePoint.
2. Content Sharing with OneDrive
Do you have OneDrive? Then use it. If you pay for OneDrive, no employee should save files locally and ignore OneDrive storage. Teaching and instituting file backup practices and even going as far as establishing a backup policy isn’t a big deal. OneDrive establishes storage in one place and it reduces local or onsite storage costs.
From OneDrive you can easily share files, videos, and other content with other employees. You can set permissions and receive alerts for documents.
Beware of setting up the syncing between your desktop and OneDrive for Business. Syncing does automate local file backups. However you can run into several obstacles with syncing. Syncing with OneDrive requires storage space on both the local client and in the cloud. All local file names with strange characters or symbols do not sync correctly.
OneDrive syncing provides a valid backup solution because it constantly creates copies the files on the local computer, but it does not necessarily teach individuals to rely on OneDrive for storage to free up local space.
3. Apps for SharePoint
Hypothetically let’s say your marketing department uses this communication tool called Slack. The sales team communicates via Google Hangouts and stores documents in Google Drive. For some odd reason the Operations Team loves Trello for managing projects.
If you can’t find the right tool in SharePoint, then look at the Office 365 App Store. There are tons of free applications to replicate tools available on other platforms.
For companies with in-house developers, you have the ability to create custom applications to work on SharePoint.
People use what they like. What if they don’t like the apps for SharePoint. Discontent can drive down productivity. Perhaps survey your employees software tools and compare them to SharePoint and Office 365 apps before transitioning to SharePoint Online.
4. Video is King
Video content rules in the Internet. Snapchat rose to dominance over the last few years with self-deleting photos and videos. Facebook built it’s own video platform to upload video content directly onto the Facebook newsfeed. Google aquired Youtube, the king of video, back in 2006.
So, it only makes sense for SharePoint to jump on the video bandwagon. In SharePoint 2013, videos are easier to upload and share. Each video has its own video player page which contains video metadata, thumbnails, and information you submit, including the title, owner, permissions, keywords, and description.
You can create video channels to organize videos and embed them on other websites. Another benefit includes the option of placing documents, PowerPoint presentations, and other resources on the video player page alongside the video as related items. This enhances the user’s viewing experience.
SharePoint supports HTML5 media player and uses Silverlight video types. The HTML5 compatibility enables videos to play on mobile devices that do not use Silverlight. Both media players permit you to change the video rendition while watching.
Teams can test their creativity with video capabilities by recording important meetings, training, and various minor and major events to share at later dates for referral. Video capturing provides an easy alternative to reviewing text meeting notes. For videos in an intranet web portal, the ratings and view count features prove valuable in evaluating the effectiveness of video content for inter-office training and resources.
Why not host all your videos on YouTube?
5. See Activities and Updates with Delve
Delve is a new development on the SharePoint and Office 365 platform. Delve provides a visual interface to display document and work activities. See when someone updates Excel, Word, and other documents. These updates include time stamps, content location, who initiated the update, and share options.
Microsoft added Delve to the Office 365 subscription at the beginning of this year. Therefore, it’s probably too early to point out potential caveats. With Delve, it seems as if Microsoft produced an app that better consolidates activities while allowing you a clearer view of priorities. It displays a Pinterest-esque board for work activities and projects.
What do you think are the most invaluable features of SharePoint 2013?