A Friendly Introduction
Think of SharePoint as your phone’s operating system (Android or iOS). The operating system alone does things, but nothing that attracts a lot of attention. It’s the applications that make the phone interesting, attractive, and personal. By extension, a SharePoint site is really nothing. It’s the “applications” and content that make it something more.
SharePoint calls their “applications” web parts. The web parts allow a firm to display the content it chooses in a web page. This can include documents, content sharing, task lists, maps, calendars, internal blogs, and more.
One common example includes calendars. The firm may use SharePoint to display a calendar for conference rooms, time off, or company events. The firm’s practice area may have a calendar, or the firm could post its docket on a SharePoint calendar. This reduces email on non-critical items while providing information to the firm members. It also allows them to view the information at a time of their choosing or as needed.
Another good example is to include non-confidential internal HR documents in a library. This will allow users to get forms like a medical leave of absence, time off form, or 401K enrollment documents. Taking things further, the firm could include instructions to properly complete the form, reference material, who should receive them when complete, and method of delivery. There is even a web part that will display particular firm members, so if anyone had a question they would know who to contact.
The firm may want to restrict access to various parts of the SharePoint site. SharePoint allows for firms to block users from entire pages that contain confidential information. User groups can allow for easy user management. Or in the examples cited above, those documents could be read-only, preventing users from modifying the template.
SharePoint is powerful and capable. Learning or working with someone to setup SharePoint is the easy part. The challenge arises in deployment and specifically user adoption. Obvious solutions like an intranet homepage or the ones described above are good, but not great. Needs must be clearly identified and communicated to prevent a firms SharePoint site from becoming a ghost town.
Once a need has been identified, the firm has added sticky elements like document migration, contact management, and shifted important information the next step is coaching the firm members. While training for end users is not intense, some firm members must be taught polite ways to say “did you check the site first”, because they will enjoy the benefits of reduced busy work and elimination of redundant questions.
Spend Your Time on Important Matters
Firm members can be freed up to do higher level work when SharePoint is properly deployed. Instead of managing conference room calendars, they can assist with document review. Instead of answering questions about 401k enrollment, they can be creating a better employee onboarding process. Oh, and that onboarding process can be stored and managed in SharePoint so the new guys can do parts of their new hire training while being indoctrinated into the firm’s culture. But be aware this requires planning, testing, and strategy.