Daniel Wilkens, Software Product Analyst, AvePoint
In the IT world, we are introduced to a new wave of buzzwords, phrases, and trends every year that promise to transform the way organizations work. From cloud and BYOD to "working like a network," all of these concepts revolve around the same desire--improving accessibility to information in order to increase productivity.
Microsoft has recently embraced the idea of being a productivity enabler and has taken leaps and bounds to create solutions to address this issue. Being "cloud-first, mobile-first" sounds great, but it may not address the problems that your workforce faces. What about all of the software your organization has already invested time, money, and resources into? Why can't you just make it easier to work with what you have?
Work with What Your Administrator Gave You
When thinking about how to improve information accessibility, the first thing to consider is the systems and software that your employees use on a daily basis. For many, this includes Microsoft products such as SharePoint, Office 365, Outlook, and Office--alongside file shares and SaaS applications including Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive. In order to improve information accessibility for your organization, your strategy must help employees answer this age-old question:
Where did I put that file?
Think about how many times you have asked yourself that question. Did I save it to my desktop? Was it an Outlook attachment? This is a common question, one that your father likely asked while frantically looking through his file cabinet and trashcan for that one magical scrap of paper he needed. Today, that trashcan is now a records archive with terabytes of content; and that file cabinet contains millions of documents across multiple devices, software solutions, storage devices, and data centers. How can you help your employees answer this question without changing everything?
5 Ways to Improve Information Accessibility with SharePoint
Here are a few solutions that may help improve your workers' productivity without the need for a migration:
- Expose File Shares in SharePoint – Rather than having to waste time searching for content in a legacy system, seek out a solution to expose file share content in SharePoint. This helps your workers search for content easily while giving administrators time to prepare for a full or incremental migration.
- Connect and Integrate Content Repositories – If your organization is using both Box and SharePoint--rather than migrating from one platform to the other--explore solutions that can allow you to integrate the solutions together. By doing so, you can take advantage of the benefits that each system provides (SharePoint for ECM, Box for mobile collaboration) while giving users freedom to choose how they want to work.
- Scan, Tag, and Classify Content Entering SharePoint - Seek out solutions that allow you to establish information governance and compliance policies to ensure that content is classified, secured, and protected appropriately upon entering SharePoint. By doing so, you can set up a rich metadata taxonomy to help drive search and classification efforts in the future.
- Integrate SharePoint and Outlook - Regardless of whether you choose to use native functionality or a third-party solution, integrating these two systems is a sure-fire way to increase productivity. Combine all emails, attachments, and documents relating to a project or topic in one place, and provide end-users with the ability to quickly and easily move content from one system to the other.
- Designate SharePoint as the Central Records Repository - With SharePoint as the hub for your organization's content, you can take advantage of native and vendor-created features to help centralize records retention and disposition management for your environment. For example, if your Outlook emails have been programmatically moved to SharePoint for storage, the need to maintain and search through unstructured and unwieldy PST files for information suddenly disappears.
By following these five steps, administrators can not only address issues with productivity and information accessibility, but also increase a company's return on investment on existing software like SharePoint, Outlook, and file shares – all helping organizations gain the time necessary to evaluate next steps and future expenditures.
Daniel Wilkens is a Software Product Analyst at AvePoint, responsible for the company’s archiving and mobility products. Daniel has experience in project management in the legal services industry and graduated with a juris doctorate from Touro Law Center.