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How to get more from SharePoint best practices

According to Microsoft, more companies than ever before are embracing cloud-based productivity tools to support the modern workplace that has evolved so rapidly since the global pandemic began in 2020. On-premise SharePoint migrations are happening less frequently as more organisations are moving to cloud-based SharePoint Online, part of the Microsoft 365 suite.

Whether your company is migrating to the cloud from SharePoint Server or entering the Microsoft world for the first time, it is vital to know how to use SharePoint Online effectively, to help you leverage the most from your investment.

SharePoint overview

SharePoint Online is a highly customisable collaboration and communication platform, offering the capability to build an intranet for your business and to store, organise, share, and access information. This makes collaborations between teams, projects, or across your company much easier and more productive, as documents and files can be easily shared and accessed in real-time.

Every employee working on a project can access what is needed, whether they’re in the same physical location or scattered across the world. SharePoint seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Office 365 applications such as Word, Excel, Teams, and Outlook, and tedious tasks can be automated to boost productivity.

Here are SharePoint best practices to support your business efficiency:

Establish rules for SharePoint use

SharePoint is highly customisable, which makes it an excellent tool but it does need robust processes in place to ensure it makes work easier, not harder. Set clear guidelines before getting started (or if things aren’t very organised, get some rules in place). Some things to consider would be:

  • Who is responsible for onboarding new employees in SharePoint?
  • What structure is used to upload files and documents and is it clear to all involved?
  • Which files can be uploaded and who is responsible for those files?
  • Where can files be uploaded to?

This structure will enable all users to get the most from modern SharePoint sites and boost productivity.

Be consistent with file naming

There’s nothing worse than not being able to find vital information needed to work on a project. Setting naming standards is SharePoint document management best practice 101 and enables team members to easily find what they need in the document library. Naming files effectively and with consistency will make them more accessible.

To enhance search results, add unique identifiers or tags to documents such as the date created or company name within the folder structure. This keeps things organised and helps team members find what they’re looking for even if they forget how the document was named.

Keep documents secure using the Lock Feature

Nothing can be more important than keeping your business information safe and secure, especially with the increased number of enterprise security threats. Your employees can play their part in keeping files and documents safe by locking them, ensuring no unauthorised person can access or make changes. It avoids accidental data loss if a user accidentally deletes a file, and can even prevent external sharing when the recipient is not authorised to view the file or document.

Enable versioning

Versioning is a simple, yet powerful feature within SharePoint to protect against content loss. Versioning ensures people can continue working collaboratively and with confidence even when mistakes are made. It’s important not only for protecting data but also as an effective strategy in keeping users engaged and using the site (SharePoint).

With version history enabled on documents or lists, you’ll be able to keep track of your work without having to constantly start again from scratch each time something changes. It also tracks who has been making changes, which can help with permissions if things are getting too chaotic.

Enable alerts

If you want to keep track of changes being made to SharePoint documents, you can create alerts so you’re notified when things are changed. Documents or files with high priority can be set to have an extra validations step which requires editing permission to be given before changes can be made.

Automate workflows

Mundane and repetitive tasks can be easily done but they often take up time and aren’t very inspiring, so we often put them at the bottom of our to-do list. Microsoft Power Automate allows you to automate SharePoint processes by creating a ‘flow from a SharePoint list or SharePoint library. SharePoint Approvals and Workflows let you create approvals that are automatically routed, such as leave approvals or allowing users to review documents for approval before forwarding them on to the relevant recipient. This saves time and resources, so teams are more efficient and don’t avoid completing tasks.

Use columns

Columns help organise important data. You can use them to filter and edit lists and libraries easily. There are many different column types you can use such as yes/no, Place, Number, Person, etc. You can turn a list in Columns into a table similar to Excel, where you can manage the details in Columns to help you turn a list into a table similar to Excel and better manage the data in a structured way.

Take advantage of the versatility of Microsoft SharePoint Online and boost your document management and collaboration to the next level. The team of Microsoft specialists at INTELLIWORX have extensive knowledge and experience in supporting businesses to implement Microsoft solutions to achieve their business goals. Talk to the team at INTELLIWORX today and realise your full business potential.

Shane Maher

We passionately work on the IT Infrastructure of mid-tier businesses and support MSPs into cloud services. I have over 17 years of commercial experience that includes supporting and managing IT systems, developing infrastructure solutions, both onsite & in the cloud.

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