I want to tell you a story … and it might seem familiar: A company with three offices and under 70 people realized their online “drives” didn’t provide the level of collaboration they needed to grow. They started to look at collaboration software but struggled with scoping out the server infrastructure, security, cost of hardware, licensing and ensuring they had the IT support to deploy the solution everywhere with limited staff, budget and expertise. Collaboration shouldn’t be a frustration or an unattainable dream, and deploying a solution shouldn’t become the stuff of nightmares… especially not in today’s economic environment where no man (or business) is an island. Whether you’re a small business of a few people or a large enterprise with people around the world, solving the collaboration challenge could be found in the clouds …. or one in particular: SharePoint Online. A well-known Microsoft solution, SharePoint quite simply helps teams both inside and outside a corporation work together as seamlessly across the country as they could if they were a cubicle apart. It also helps companies collaborate, deploy intranet and extranets securely, provides workflow management and simplifies document lifecycle management. When SharePoint is deployed on premises (which is how most companies did it in the past), gaining the benefits came at a cost because on premise installations required companies to buy and install servers, buy software licenses, and god forbid they experience exponential growth, this infrastructure could be rapidly outgrown requiring a new investment in more hardware, and software, not to mention IT support. To be clear, the basic functionality of SharePoint remains the same whether you are using the on premises or online version, but there are differences between the two that should be evaluated before finalizing your implementation decision, including your business’ customization requirements, bandwidth restrictions, and single sign-on capabilities (all of which are superior in the on premise version). A SharePoint guru can help you map out your requirements and make recommendations about whether on premise or online is right for your specific situation. They can also help you tailor the either solution to meet your specific needs before you start rolling it out to the workforce. Advanced planning, coupled with implementation expertise, can take the headaches out of any new tech initiative and help to make sure all your business applications (including Office 365) work well together, while you tackle the collaboration challenge. While SharePoint’s on premise and online versions provide standardized processes and workflows, most businesses will likely want and need customization to have it work perfectly for their staff.
When it comes to evaluating your collaboration options, there are some compelling reasons to consider SharePoint Online including:
- No hardware to buy: A cloud-based solution means you don’t have to buy hardware to run the solution (or spend massive amounts of time defining the right infrastructure platform for today that has the flexibility to handle future business growth).
- Rock-solid security: Security is handled by Microsoft so there’s no guesswork about whether you’ve configured and protected your information effectively.
- Growth made easy: Adding more staff? Buy more licenses. It’s as simple as that. You don’t need to add hardware when you bring on more employees. so you can scale up and down easily.
- Extend the possibilities: It’s not simple file sharing and storage. SharePoint lets employees work together to manage projects or make changes to documents, in real-time. It manages workflows to keep project moving, while keeping everyone in the loop of project status. Project teams can also keep files invisible to others inside or outside the organization boosting security. And, SharePoint Online helps companies manage document life cycles so there’s no guesswork when it comes to version control. Want to extend the functionality of SharePoint? There are tools and add-ons that expert SharePoint developers (like us) can help you deploy.
- Responsive-Ready: Businesses have to be mobile-friendly and that goes for collaboration tools as well. SharePoint is mobile-ready, making it easier to roll out a tablet and smartphone accessible business tool.
When you’re ready to start collaborating, SharePoint Online can get you there faster and more cost-effectively than you might realize. To crank up the features and functionality, development experts can turn a plain vanilla SharePoint into a customized collaboration environment that serves up the perfect custom blend of rich features your organization wants.