By Russell Kommer
Ever wonder if, and how, consulting companies use their own products, methodologies and services? When working with other software companies, we often see that even though they work with a product, sometimes they don’t use it within their own company.
At eSoftware Associates, we have a team of experienced SharePoint professionals who are well-versed in the robust capabilities of the platform. We love SharePoint and use it daily. Everything from content management to business intelligence, we try to use it as much as possible. Of course, we don’t re-create the wheel on certain areas of our business. However, when it comes to project management, as an example, we use SharePoint exclusively.
Over the years, we see patterns of how our clients use SharePoint. For your sake, we will skip the obvious feature of storing files and focus on what really matters -- how to use SharePoint to gain a competitive advantage.
Top 3 Things Other Companies Use SharePoint For
1. Human Resources
Almost every company has a human resources (HR) department. Typically, HR starts out small and grows with the company. Over time, those Excel spreadsheets and paper forms that hold the company together start to become overwhelming as staffing increases, typically past 25 employees.
The most common HR aspects that we automate include, onboarding/offboarding, performance management, time off and timesheets, as well as managing compensation and job roles.
For many HR departments, one of the biggest concerns is around security. Most of the information in human resources must be protected for legal reasons. When migrating data over to SharePoint, it is important to ensure that the security settings are in place so that confidential information is only visible to those who have the appropriate access.
SharePoint provides granular security, allowing HR departments to keep information private with the ability to share only specific information to certain individuals.
Each of these components can vary in complexity depending on the company, but they often have common themes. This allows us to propose a baseline model for each aspect that includes email routing, business approvals and high-level metrics.
2. Inventory Management
As product-driven companies grow, they tend to have more and more SKUs of their products to manage. Companies can create custom inventory lists in SharePoint to manage inventory, which can lead to massive efficiency gains -- everything from researching new products to shipping to sales and managing seasonal trends.
For example, a custom SharePoint inventory list could be to manage IT supplies. The custom list will allow you to track employees’ computer issues based on inventory numbers. As a result of the comprehensive list of inventory numbers, the IT department would know which computer is assigned to each employee, making it easier to track issues related to that specific computer.
When companies see their inventories being organized, the next question is how to improve their business intelligence.
3. Business Intelligence
Whether it’s inventory management, human resources, or just about any other facet of a company, knowing your numbers is paramount to gaining a competitive advantage. How can you know if you are doing better or worse than your competition if you don’t know how well you are doing?
With SharePoint, you can leverage numerous business intelligence tools, such as Power BI, to bring real-time analytics to executives’ and managers’ fingertips. While there are some inherent cost savings with bringing SharePoint business intelligence to your company, the real win is being able to proactively act on that information and move your company faster than your competitors.
Top 3 Things We Use SharePoint For
We have a heavy dose of human resources applications as well as business intelligence in our SharePoint environment. Let’s focus on three other great things we use SharePoint for to keep on top of our competition:
1. Project Management
To start, we manage all our projects using SharePoint. It is custom tailored to our needs, but there are some great add-ins as well. We built ours from scratch so that each field, input form and view is optimized to our liking. There are no extraneous fields, cumbersome user interfaces that need to be modified or elements that cannot be changed.
Additionally, we have business automation and approval processes surrounding each of our projects from start to finish.
2. Ticket Tracking
For our clients who hire us for operational support, we needed a way to manage their tickets while factoring in our resource allocation for various projects. Since our project management is within SharePoint, having our ticket tracking system in SharePoint was a natural step for us. This has allowed us to rapidly see who is working on what and adjust workloads between projects and operational tasks as needed.
3. Holistic Search
Over time, we have done some great projects in a wide array of industries. One way we help each of our new clients is by leveraging those past projects and experiences. Through SharePoint’s holistic search, we can look up past projects by industry, deliverables, specific resources and much more. Instead of just blindly searching for hopeful keywords, we can narrow down our search results based on key historical information.
As you can tell, we use SharePoint a lot in our own business, which allows us to develop custom solutions for our clients as well. There are endless possibilities with SharePoint that can take your business to the next level.
Russell Kommer is the founder of eSoftware Associates Inc., experts in Microsoft SharePoint & Office365 development for businesses of all sizes.