We recently wrote an article on how businesses use Microsoft SharePoint. In the process, we interviewed three small-medium businesses and one large publishers, and received some interesting responses.
For the smaller companies, SharePoint is an important online collaborative tool, and they use it mainly to store documents – as a cloud-based backup and to keep them updated and available to the whole team 24/7. This is in contrast to Macmillan Education Publishers, who use SharePoint as a base for business-wide developments as well as the traditional document storage and management.
So how do we use SharePoint here at RibbonFish?
As SharePoint developers, we work with it a lot, so there are a number of ways that we use SharePoint when working with clients. But internally, within our team, our utilisation of SharePoint is fairly simple – but very effective.
We currently have SharePoint through Office 365, and use it mostly as a document repository within the team. We upload important files that we want made available to everyone. This allows us to keep only 1 version of each document, stay on top of the latest developments, and at the same time, maintain a reliable cloud-based storage system.
SharePoint has also become useful in improving our process with partners. For example, with our accountant – who is now able to access a secure legal folder where we upload invoices and statements. He is then able to download items as and when he needs them, minimising the need to send attachments via email that can easily get lost in the feed. Our PAYE payslips are also uploaded to the site, to then be distributed to the team from there. We’ve also recently opened our SharePoint to clients, where we dedicate a section of the site to the projects we run with them. Here, they can log issues, make requests, view release notes, and follow the progress of their project. We feel that this is an important development in what we do, as we’re always looking to communicate effectively with our clients and make our projects as efficient as possible. Collaboration is the key here.
I spoke to our Managing Director, Marc Defosse, about how he would improve RibbonFish’s SharePoint experience:
“At the moment, we’ve set up our partners and clients with access emails specific to our SharePoint site. Instead, we’d like to assign access any email address. Security is obviously paramount, but it is quite cumbersome for our clients to have a separate access email. If we could assign their established email address, we could then send automatic updates when we upload new files, so they’re aware immediately of new developments…..”
Of course, we can forward the update emails to them – but this isn’t ideal.
So what about the benefits?
“The simplicity. Training requirements with SharePoint are minimal as its such a simple tool – similar to the other Office products. SharePoint is a great way of increasing collaboration, and keeping on top of the most important project developments.”
As we’ve already discussed, it can also be beneficial from a business operations perspective. I asked our Operations Manager, Paul Bryson, what he got most out of our SharePoint site;
“Our SharePoint is an effective document repository, and a central point for the team… We have also provided a support log within our SharePoint for clients to post any issues, and if they update a new ticket we receive a workflow notification email.”
And how does SharePoint shape up from another point of view? I asked one of our developers, Eric Wroolie;
“It is a good collaboration tool, but one area where SharePoint could really improve is in its lack of support for remote development. In most enterprise environments, it is not possible for a developer to code directly on a production server. The fact that most developers need to run a Virtual Machine with a full SharePoint server is a little ridiculous.”
So, as always, there’s room for improvement, especially from a developer’s perspective.
But, as with the similarly-sized businesses that I spoke to for our recent article, SharePoint is an essential collaboration tool for RibbonFish. The simplicity and flexibility of SharePoint means that we use it in a number of ways for our clients and ourselves, and the business benefits are clear for all.
How does your business use SharePoint? Please feel free to comment below!