In the age of digitalization of companies and hybrid work, online file storage services and collaborative work platforms are now legion. So why choose SharePoint to create your intranet? What are the features of this tool and, more importantly, what are the most salient benefits? In this article, Mozzaik365 takes a look at the question.
What is SharePoint?
SharePoint is a content sharing and teamwork platform for businesses and administrations. This service is part of the Microsoft 365 suite already used by many organizations.
The origins of a reference tool
The history of SharePoint began in 2001 with the launch by Microsoft of two solutions: the document management platform SharePoint Team Services (STS) and the intranet and team site editor SharePoint Portal Server (SPS). Since then, SharePoint has undergone a series of evolutions, with a new version revealed every three years. Available online since 2013, SharePoint has become a reference tool for creating collaborative intranets, content curation and digital document management. To date, the software has more than 190 million users in over 200,000 organizations.
SharePoint Intranets: from ready-to-use to custom
The SharePoint solution offers several customization options adapted to the needs and constraints of different organizations. It allows you to create :
- "Out-of-the-box" intranets that are easy to deploy and administer due to their standard nature;
- "In-a-Box" intranets, quick to set up thanks to their pre-configuration, while remaining customizable to meet the company's requirements;
- "Custom" intranets, fully personalized, but requiring a more substantial human and financial investment.
Each organization can choose the SharePoint intranet solution that suits its resources, its expectations and its challenges.
The main features of SharePoint
The SharePoint solution also offers many features, including:
- The creation of intranet sites allowing to communicate about news, events and procedures of the company to its employees;
- The creation of extranet sites configured for external sharing allowing to transmit information and to work on projects with partners outside the company;
- File and document management to store, organize and share documents using document libraries and file lists;
- Customized content search that allows employees to search SharePoint sites to quickly find the information they need;
- Content management Workflows enable to create automated processes to perform common tasks, such as document approval, notification of updates or form validation;
- Integration of SharePoint Online with other tools such as the Microsoft Teams collaborative communication application, Outlook email or the OneDrive online file storage service for better collaboration and productivity.
As we can see, SharePoint is a complete and flexible intranet solution that can meet the different needs of companies, regardless of their size and sector of activity. In doing so, SharePoint brings different benefits to organizations.
👀 To go further, discover the top 16 features to add to your corporate intranet
The advantages of a SharePoint intranet
Using SharePoint to create your intranet has several notable advantages:
Optimized internal collaboration
First of all, a SharePoint intranet promotes internal collaboration. This cloud-based solution allows you to create team sites. In these collaborative spaces, employees participating in a project can share files (images, pdf, etc.), produce and edit documents together (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.), and set up workflows to automate certain tasks, such as approving a new report. In short, group members can collaborate and move forward together on their project, even if they are not in the same place or practice hybrid work.
🤩 To go further, find out how to turn SharePoint into a collaborative tool
Smoother internal and external communication
Secondly, a SharePoint intranet facilitates internal and external communication. Thanks to team sites, employees belonging to the same department or project group can easily share information with each other, even when they are on the road or working from home. The organization can also create a communication site. The goal is to bring together in one place information, news and events that will interest and engage employees.
🌞 To go further discover the guide to communicate effectively internally | Tips
Simplified document management and more accessible knowledge
A SharePoint intranet is also ideal for centralizing knowledge and making it more accessible to employees. It is indeed easy to transform SharePoint into an EDM, i.e. an electronic document management tool. With SharePoint, the company can store its documents, administer access rights to them, but also trace their history, from their creation to their archiving through their successive versions. Files are organized in lists and libraries. The SharePoint search bar makes it easy to find them. As an added bonus, employees can share their knowledge and ideas by creating and co-editing Wiki pages.
👉 To go further, discover the Knowledge Management strategy guide
A flexible and secure platform
A SharePoint intranet provides both flexibility and a high degree of security. Employees can access their digital workspace (DWS) from any medium (tablet, smartphone, computer) and from anywhere. However, data security is guaranteed. For example, administrators can assign different levels of authorization to users and manage access rights to content hosted on the intranet. Moreover, documents are no longer lost in e-mail loops. One last example: employees identify themselves only once to access their different applications, which limits the risks of hacking during the connection.
⏰To go further, discover the best practices to secure your intranet | The guide
Easier accommodation and integration
From the point of view of the employer and the people in charge of deploying the solution, a SharePoint intranet has a major advantage: its ease of hosting and integration with other tools. SharePoint Online is hosted on the Microsoft Cloud, so there is no need for a physical server and no associated maintenance. Another strong point is that SharePoint can integrate with a large number of applications including Outlook, Excel, Word, OneDrive, Teams, Planner, PowerPoint, Yammer, Delve, Skype Enterprise and Salesforce (to name a few). This means that employees can open these programs without leaving SharePoint or access SharePoint sites from them.
More productive teams
As a consequence of the previous points, a SharePoint intranet is a productivity lever for the teams and for the company. It centralizes and makes accessible in a few clicks all the information and tools that employees need to work efficiently. No need to navigate from one program to another, SharePoint integrates with the Office365 suite and more. Better still, with SharePoint, employees can create workflows to automate some of their business processes (purchasing processes, project approvals, document reviews, etc.). A very effective way to increase productivity.
😲 To go further, find out how to create an effective project plan with Teams and SharePoint!
A more satisfying user experience
Finally, a Sharepoint intranet provides a good digital experience for employees. They can easily access their digital workspace, whether they are in the field or in the office. This single point of entry allows them to quickly open all their applications and move seamlessly between them. Finally, they can find the information, news and documents that interest them without being overwhelmed by a mass of data. A good intranet is indeed one of the keys to fight against information overload in companies.
As we can see, the advantages of a SharePoint intranet are numerous. So, in concrete terms, how can you use SharePoint to create your company's intranet?
Steps to create a SharePoint intranet
Any organization with the Microsoft 365 suite can create a SharePoint 365 intranet easily, without having to code. To do so, just follow a few simple steps:
1. Choose the right type of SharePoint site
First, go to Microsoft 365, open SharePoint and choose the type of site you want to create. You have two options:
- Create a team site, to improve horizontal communication and collaboration between members of a project team or department.
- Create a communication site to circulate information, news and events to the employees of your organization.
2. Create a tree structure for your SharePoint intranet site
Then, think about the tree structure of your future intranet, i.e. the organization of the contents and pages as well as the way of circulating between them. This architecture must meet the needs of the end user: the employee. It must allow them to quickly find what is useful and to navigate effortlessly from one page to another. To help you in this mission, do not hesitate to be accompanied by an integrator.
3. Create and customize pages
Once you have the structure of your SharePoint intranet in mind, create pages and customize them by adding features using WebPart components. These building blocks allow you to integrate a variety of elements on your pages (news, document library, upcoming events, group calendar, etc.) in just a few clicks.
Once this is done, you will have a usable SharePoint intranet. However, the design and basic features of SharePoint may leave your teams wanting more. To set up a truly engaging communication and collaboration platform: create a modern and attractive intranet with SharePoint by using extensions.
🤩 To go further, find out how to create a sexy intranet with SharePoint
Optimize your intranet with SharePoint extensions
SharePoint extensions allow you to create a modern intranet that meets the expectations and needs of your employees.
What is a SharePoint extension?
A SharePoint extension, or Plugin, is a computer program that enhances the capabilities of SharePoint by adding new features. There are different SharePoint extensions. Among them, Mozzaik365 should be of particular interest to you...
✈️ To go further, discover the main features of Mozzaik365