Centralizing Communication with SharePoint

Binni Skariah, SVP - Originations Technology, Rushmore Loan Management Services LLC
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Binni Skariah, SVP - Originations Technology, Rushmore Loan Management Services LLC

In modern day corporations, keeping info centralized, secure, and readily accessible is a key factor in determining that company’s success. Information workers need to access that company’s information. Where the information is and how it’s accessed contributes to the communication element addressed by an intranet. The Microsoft solution for corporate intranets is SharePoint. Microsoft defines SharePoint as a browser-based collaboration and document management platform. The keyword is “platform.” SharePoint is many things to many people, it is not a single application. For the purpose of this article, SharePoint will be our premiere intranet platform.

The technical implementation need of an ideal intranet is fulfilled by 70 percent of SharePoint’s out-of-the-box offerings. The offerings include a web interface, multiple browser compatibility, device independence, and responsive design. SharePoint is offered as an on-premise, cloud, and hybrid product editions. The needs of modern day information workers include intelligent search, dynamic content filtering, and an easy to use UX.

Content may be king, but functionality is the horse he rides.

 An intranet based on a Microsoft SharePoint platform is how successful companies communicate, collaborate, and connect employees, customers, and partners 

SharePoint provides everything from an initial web portal that recognizes who you are and secures content accordingly, all the way to a full .net application integrated with a back-end SQL server. Document management and versioning fulfill compliance department needs. Searching for SMEs throughout the enterprise to collaborate on projects are done through active directory and LDAP components. Controlling company public information through corporate news management is something that can be handled without IT’s involvement. The marketing department will revel in engaging employees with company culture and team building events. Individual department becomes more than an inbox with each having their presence on the intranet. Department accolades, achievements, processes, and how to interact are maintained by department admins, again reducing IT resource costs.

More advanced functionality can be demonstrated with the use of workflows/notifications. Taking the human out of the menial day to day tasks using out-of-the-box workflows gives quick ROI justification. Overtime, efficiency gains are evident as more and more company intense human processes are converted to SharePoint application functionality, for example, vacation request, expense reports, staff onboarding/offboarding.

Like most technology focused projects, the biggest hurdle to success is knowing how to start. To implement an intranet, you don’t need to boil the ocean. Using an Agile (Iterative) development methodology, the intranet will grow functionality by functionality and department by department. Staffing is as simple as a SharePoint project analyst and a site administrator. Based on the level of complexity, your staffing skill set and count will need to grow.

Of all complexities involving software release management, user adoption is the easiest for SharePoint. The majority of all employees in most organizations have heard of and have used SharePoint in some form or fashion. Executive sponsorship can easily be persuaded if you live up to your pitched cost-benefit analysis. Controlling user adoption and anticipation will be a challenge. SharePoint will go viral within most organizations very quickly!

Once you build it they will come, but that does not mean they will come back. Having a team to manage content and features/ functions are what will contribute to your intranet continued success. Integration with other lines of business systems to help manage data updates, security, or reporting are other avenues of intranet growth.

Microsoft support of the technology and continuous education ensures that SharePoint will continue to various future versions of its product life cycle. The advent of the SharePoint store where 3rd party development partners can build and distribute custom solutions further build on this theme. Numerous educational avenues exist through hundreds of Internet blogs, YouTube channels, and training providers. Accreditation and certification reinforce new employee engagement and desire in the SharePoint administration or development domains.

With the latest iterations of SharePoint 2016, SharePoint is now becoming more desired as an intranet platform. With the Office 365 offering, corporations are also provided extranet functionality. Information security concerns of disaster recovery, network latency, and data integrity are addressed. Migration from older additions can be automated through various 3rd party services and tools. Microsoft is making it so easy and enticing to get SharePoint in the door, that the cost and knowledge gap is reducing.

An intranet based on a Microsoft SharePoint platform is how successful companies communicate, collaborate, and connect employees, customers, and partners.

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