Many small businesses have found huge gains in using SharePoint to address specific business problems with measurable results. In many cases, the free version of the software (WSS) is sufficient to deliver huge value, and the cost is consequently very reasonable for the tightest of budgets.
The key, of course, is to take an iterative approach and ensure that each version addresses a specific and pressing business problem. Here are 5 typical small business SharePoint solutions.
Many small businesses have documents and information that is common to all employees or to groups of employees. Make this content “Self-service” by posting it to the intranet site.
- Human Resources documents – employee manuals, vacation request forms, employee contact lists, emergency contact lists etc.
- Client files – current contracts, contact information, meeting notes, expense forms etc.
- Operations files – reports, accounting files, procedures, vendor contact lists etc.
Some document management systems can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require hours of training to understand. SharePoint is a great solution for small businesses that need document management, but don’t care to spend and arm and a leg.
- Versioning controls – Keep straight who made what changes and when. Roll back to previous versions and undo changes.
- Document Security – Limit access to certain documents (for instance HR Documents) and monitor who has opened or changed a document.
- Document Collaboration – Organize the process of multiple people contributing to the same document.
- Document approval – Send documents for review or approval from other users.
Most project management programs are designed for large projects with lots of interworking parts. Small businesses usually have the opposite, many small projects and no way to organize diverse work. If 10 people are working on 20 projects, then who is doing what and when are they doing it?
Though Microsoft SharePoint isn’t a good fit to manage a large project for a large business, it does very well with small projects. The program can generate simple Gant charts, create collaborative virtual workspaces, organize calendars (which integrate with Microsoft Outlook), and in general, keep track of all of the balls in the air.
Microsoft SharePoint is probably best known as collaboration software. Users can share ideas on meetings, documents, events, contacts, and really any content that fits in the site.
In a small business intranet, each individual employee is proportionally much more important to the company, and typically fills multiple rolls. If that employee leaves for any reason, the loss of their knowledge can be devastating. Microsoft SharePoint is a way for those individuals to share their experience with the rest of the company.
Wikis, bulletined boards, and discussion pages keep employees sharing ideas, collaborating, and working together.
The value of a SharePoint site can easily be extended to a key vendor, supplier, or client. Collaborate, manage projects, manage documents, and distribute reports and other information through a Microsoft SharePoint site.
If the site allows access to users outside of your network, certain compliancy, security, and policy considerations have to be made, but in limited application, this can be a very effective way to work with the other companies and individuals that are most important to the business finding success.
Small Businesses can be more efficient and effective with SharePoint
SharePoint allows a small business to quickly and inexpensively develop a fully functioning intranet site with great functionality, design, and structure. Microsoft SharePoint can be a very valuable application for small businesses.