Businesses have used intranets for many years. Since an intranet is essentially an internal website only accessible by company employees, it seems to be the ideal way to share information. The problem is that this is exactly what most companies have done; using it only as an information-sharing vehicle. A properly designed intranet can boost productivity by giving employees tools to collaborate with each other no matter where they are located.
The key word in the last sentence is collaborate – the give and take interaction so essential in today’s fast-paced business world. Unfortunately, traditional intranets fall far short of this goal since they are usually not very user friendly, need the IT department to make changes, have little functionality beyond simple file sharing, and lack integration with the company’s existing architecture. Don’t despair! There is hope.
Microsoft’s SharePoint is a wonderful intranet technology that is fast becoming the standard in online collaboration. It corrects the deficiencies of traditional intranets and gives robust tools to users that help them stay connected across organizational and geographical boundaries. This will undoubtedly increase the efficiency of your business processes and team productivity.
With a properly designed SharePoint system you can:
- Create workspaces for teams to coordinate schedules, organize documents and participate in discussions.
- Stay on task with automatic alerts on document changes, announcements, surveys, and discussion boards.
- Brainstorm ideas and build internal knowledge bases through the use of wikis and blogs.
- Manage important documents within your organization by requiring that they be checked out first before making revisions and then automatically alerting interested users that revisions have been made.
- View and track document changes and restore previous versions if necessary.
- Set security down to the folder and document level.
SharePoint uses common web navigation techniques that are already familiar to most employees, so training is minimal. If you are still not convinced then you should know that SharePoint integrates with the Microsoft Office system.
The final benefit to SharePoint is that users manage their own content while your IT department maintains overall control of the system. Your IT department will not be burdened with administrative duties, such as adding additional sites, content, or making site changes since these actions can all be done at the department level.
Microsoft SharePoint is a technology that will become an enabler within your organization not a bottleneck as traditional intranets can sometimes become.