The art of choosing a new collaboration tool for your company is not an easy one. The process generally begins with the realization that your company lacks the ability to easily facilitate communication within teams and engages in inefficient business processes. These are some good reasons to start considering a collaboration tool, like Microsoft SharePoint. On the one hand, tools like SharePoint are very powerful and versatile tools that can solve a lot of problems for your company. On the other hand, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture in striving for some “quick win” by implementing SharePoint. This is why “63% of businesses believe their use of SharePoint is sub-optimal” (AIIM, Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint). SharePoint is not a “quick win” machine. It is important to begin a collaboration tool implementation project by developing a holistic collaboration strategy. The major areas that your company will benefit from with a collaboration tool are also the major points that your company will need to address in developing your holistic collaboration strategy:
This is the fundamental starting point for any collaboration technology. When planning for document management, you’ll want to ask several key questions:
- For categorization purposes, what common terms and keywords can be applied to the content?
- How can we secure the content so that only the right people can view and/or update it?
- Does the content have a lifecycle?
Business Process Automation
When you’re content has been properly organized, the next area that typically follows is business process automation or workflows. Workflows are automated processes that drive your business activities. Typically, it’s some sort of approval process that has a specific set of steps based on the actions of a user. When planning for business process automation, key questions include:
- Where are the process bottlenecks that prevent us from moving quicker?
- Are there common tasks that have repeatedly missed steps?
- Is there a series of smaller tasks that make up a larger process and can benefit from being automated? (Example: Employee Onboarding processes)
Records Management / Compliance
Often times, when discussing collaboration environments, the focus tends to be on what content will people be working on and how will they work together on that content. In many cases, it ends there, but you may also want to consider documents that should be retained for a specified amount of time whether for your own policy or compliance purposes. Records management is a combination of document management and business process automation so it can get overlooked at times. Questions to ask:
- Do we need to keep this document in our records, and, if so, for how long?
- What is the process behind making this document an official record?
- What should happen to the document after it meets its expiration date?
Business Intelligence (BI)
All businesses have goals and keeping track of those goals is essential in determining the health of an organization. BI tools represent data as charts or dashboards that are designed to provide the target audience with a quick, visual representation of a status. So, keep in mind:
- What are the key metrics that our organization needs to keep track of?
- Where does the data reside and how can we combine that data to see the information that we desire?
- How do we want this data to be visualized? (Examples: Pie Charts, Bar Charts)
Your organization has data everywhere. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images stored on different sites and servers worked on by various people. There will be times when content becomes difficult to find and being able to run a search for that content is the best way to go. When working with search, it is important that you properly categorize and classify your content. Properly categorized content will lead to more accurate results for your users. When planning for search, some of the following questions apply:
- Where can my content be stored? (Examples: SharePoint sites, file servers)
- Are there certain sites that are more authoritative than others and that would require more prominence in search results?
- Are there items that are commonly searched for and should be tagged to appear when certain terms are entered in Search? (Examples: Employee Handbook, Vacation Calendar)
It is important to understand the common issues that your organization as a whole is facing; otherwise, inadequate planning could alleviate one problem and introduce many more.
Anexinet works with our clients to strategize on, implement and sustain digital solutions through the best combination of industry-leading cloud and vendor products.
Chris Young, Strategy Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason Rivera, SharePoint Architect, email@example.com
SharePoint/Office 365 Architect