SharePoint and Office 365 are great communication and collaboration tools. They allow companies to share content amongst internal teams, securely and logically. When you first install SharePoint you are presented with a pretty plain canvas. Microsoft provide a few general starting points but they leave the specific configuration up to each company and for good reason. Often what appear to be similar requirements on the outside need to be configured differently on the inside to support the idiosyncrasies of each business.
When we talk to companies about intranets, we generally think about site structure and collaboration.
Site structure allows SharePoint to be configured in a logical and generally hierarchical way aligned to how a business operates. The top sites in the hierarchy are generally accessible by everyone and are used for communication purposes. Depending on size and requirements, these sites may also be used for collaboration. This is where multiple people may be updating the same content and potentially at the same time. Keeping content logically structured and up to date ensures people know where to go to find relevant and trusted information.
For large organisations, multiple site structures may exist to represent the different area in the business or to manage workloads carried out across business groups. Team and Project sites are often created to allow these groups of people to work together in collaborative ways. Office 365 brings many new options here. A new feature called ‘Groups’ allows for the quick setup of a ‘light’ SharePoint site complete with a security/distribution group. The ‘Group’ includes a document library, discussion thread, membership list, a calendar and a OneNote. Like everything in Office365, the features of a ‘Group’ are constantly being improved.
With all these great ways to communicate and collaborate, content can be spread over many areas. Good navigation helps if you know where to look. To find content which is not so easy to find, search is available. Search is baked into all aspects of SharePoint and appears on most pages to allow contextual searching of content.
To build a great Intranet, you need to understand how your business needs to operate (your role) and how SharePoint can be configured to help (our role). Give us a call if you think we can help.
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