How to Use SharePoint

How to Use SharePoint: Best Practices for Microsoft's Document Sharing Platform

By Gary Utley on October 10, 2019

Many businesses aren't using SharePoint to its fullest extent. Instead of empowering employees through the corporate intranet, the corporate intranet is aging, cluttered, and confusing. SharePoint has a lot of strengths, but if it isn't managed properly, it can grow out of control. If you're wondering how to use SharePoint to improve employee productivity and collaboration, here are some important tips and tricks.

Track Document Versions through SharePoint

Enabling versioning makes it possible for you to revert to older versions of documents, as well as comparing multiple versions to see where changes have been made. This is an essential part of data management. When employees are all working on the same files, it becomes possible that information can be deleted or overwritten. SharePoint prevents this from happening, by ensuring that multiple versions of each document are saved. 

However, it's also important to limit the versions. Major and minor versions can be saved, but it's important not to save too many of these versions: The system can be bogged down with excess data.

Configure Your Alerts for Important Documents

Alerts will tell you when the documents you're working on have been updated or deleted. Configuring alerts for your most important documents lets you retain more granular control over them. When alerts are properly configured, it can boost collaboration, because colleagues will know when documents have been updated and will be able to react accordingly.

Enforce Consistent Library and File Naming Conventions

Employees should be directed to name library items and files according to conventions. This helps other employees find documents, and it ensures that documents are ordered correctly. By enforcing consistent naming conventions, you can ensure that information about each document is visible at a glance. Searching and tagging will also be more effective, because these names will be used within the search system.

Use Hub Sites to Sort and Connect Information

While metadata can certainly give deep, detailed information about the contents of a document, and some older guides recommend using it as your primary method of organizing data, SharePoint has developed better tools since those days. One prominent, powerful tool is the use of hub sites. SharePoint hub sites let administrators connect and organize sites within SharePoint based on things like a team’s project, department, or region. This is an excellent way to make sure that users are seeing the information that is relevant to them and having an easy way to browse things.

Keep Audiences in the Loop with News and Events

SharePoint isn’t just a document management framework; you can use it to build full web sites as well as any other tool. Two key pieces to add in a SharePoint site are News and Events; adding these web parts is simple and intuitive, and it will help organize information and keep audiences – both internal and external – aware of what is new and what is coming up. This improves transparency and engagement and ultimately makes your team’s work more effective.

Merging and Co-Authoring Can Help Avoid Data Conflicts

While SharePoint offers a "check out" feature to make sure that only one person can edit a file at once, this is an increasingly outdated solution to avoid data conflict; Microsoft has added much better ways to collaborate seamlessly. SharePoint’s merging features are extremely well implemented and robust, meaning that it’s easy to reconcile differences in versions. Co-authoring also reduces the need for that, because it enables live, real-time work on a single document. All of this reduces, if not eliminates, the possibility of data conflict.

If you want to improve your corporate intranet use, the above SharePoint best practices will give you a starting point. SharePoint is a very robust solution, and it can take some work to find the best ways to integrate it into your company and its culture.

Still not sure you’re a SharePoint expert? Contact Red River today.

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