How To Have An Awesome SharePoint

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of the Modern Workplace Hacks podcast. My name is Tom Freer. And today in this episode, Josh and I are talking all things Airpoint and data and how you can start leveraging that through your business. It’s quite an interesting chat and we go pretty deep into a few areas, but yeah, again, hopefully you get something out of it and we’d love to hear back from you. Enjoy. Welcome to another Modern Workplace Hacks with Tom and Josh.

Tommy, how are you? Good. Josh, how are you going? Oh, mate, you used an expression yesterday. I can’t repeat, probably on our podcast because you’re pretty busy, too busy even to scratch. Let’s just say that you don’t really want to know. Anyway, we don’t need to the next one. It’s been a full on start to the year. I’ve been thinking about it. It’s not going to end. I’m sorry. No, I don’t think. I think we’re thinking it will, but I still have things. Yeah, that’s not even being optimistic. I don’t think. I just think there’s a lot of things happening. There’s a lot lot happening. And what are we in March? Ridiculous. No beginning. And I feel like it’s December.

Yeah. I reckon you need an Easter holiday. Yeah, I have. But I don’t like Easter’s, like in two weeks. Nice on your to do list as long, guys, today. Well, then you just need to take the break, even though the to do list last time. You’re pretty good at getting away. I didn’t get away. I left the office. Environmental change is as good as a reset. I did. That is true. I think we talked about last time. That is very true. It was what are we on today? What are we in about today? We’re going to cover guys. The reason Tom is busy is SharePoint is going bonkers. This year. People are realizing the power.

Finally, we’ve probably been beating the drum for a couple of years now and people are realizing that this is the time to really maximize and utilize. I want you to sort of give the listeners some insight, I suppose, on what we’ve been doing and helping clients through that journey, but also just sort of the steps of a recording. I hope so. Starting all over again, talking to ourselves about insight about the process because some people may want to go on that journey themselves, and I think they can take some lessons from, I suppose, what we’ve learnt about the stages we go through with people that get the most, let’s say, the best outcome and the iterations it takes to sort of get it right because I think some people coming to SharePoint with mixed expectations about what it is, what it has been.

Yeah, I was one of them. I remember using it five years ago and I didn’t like it at all. I wasn’t a fan now. It’s not what it was, but I don’t think it’s totally different. Well, it is. And that’s probably where we need to start. I guess. I think the key thing to understand is that if you’ve got a Microsoft three, six, five subscription, chances are you probably already got it. Yeah. So I think that’s important to note. So without having to go actually and buy another license for this thing. Yeah. It’s already in there, which is really good, really powerful, which sort of aligns with why we’re so full on with that Microsoft stack. Yeah. There’s not much else on the market that can deliver everything from the desktop all the way through and absolutely maintain security and context. So in that sense, chances are you’ve already got it sitting there.

Now, what you do need to know is that when it’s sitting there, it’s not going to do anything. And even out of the box, it’s not a platform that you can just really start to use. It does require a bit of thought and forward thinking about where it fits in the business, how you’re going to leverage it. But in that same context, you can do, like, crazy amounts of stuff. Well, your imagination really is the limit with this. Now that I’m saying, especially around just things that you did manually, that can be really improved from an efficiency point. Well, and that’s important because that’s again, part of that stack is that we have this whole platform that ties into SharePoint and Microsoft three, six, five flow we can create. We literally can create anything you can conceive. And I don’t say that because some of the stuff that our team have actually created is crazy. I wouldn’t have thought of it.

This is the process that we run in our business. Okay. Well, let’s think that through. Let’s map that out. Yeah. Okay. I’ll go talk to the Dev team. Can we do this? Here you go. This is what it looks like. We did one like this is blowing my mind. We’re doing a project with the client at the moment where they’ve got an existing document management system. And it’s really just an archive repository that they reference quite often got 800,000 items in it. Wow. Right. So it’s pretty big, and we’re looking at how we potentially can move those 800,000 items across into SharePoint, and they’re adding to those all the time. So this is an ongoing process.

And that’s been interesting because there’s been some requirements from the client says I really needed to be able to do this this and this and view documents in this certain way and SharePoint by design is a document repository, and it can do that. But it has its own particular way of how you view and reference and search and sort and find. So I put a challenge out to the Dev team and said, Right, 800,000 documents. This is going to be hard to search. How do we filter? How do we go? They’ve come back with this wicked little app that sits over the top of it. Searches really quick, really awesome way to preview documents. So it keeps the user within the one context in the one window, and they can quickly. So just little things like that. And you look at SharePoint out of the box and you go, okay, I can do it, but it may not look impressive, pretty or intuitive, but you can a bit of smarts over top of it. And I was blown away.

And this is just what you can do with that platform. We’ve created CRM systems. We’ve created Leave apps and Skills Matrix, and the list goes on. It’s really exciting. The stuff that the team had put together, which as to your point, it’s imagination. But you can only get to that point. And this is where we’ll sort of talk to is once you’ve got a framework in place, where do you start? You’ve got to have a framework, not the endpoint, but that’s one of the goals. But one of the challenges that we find is that it is where do I start the scenario? It is literally a blank canvas. When you go to your company, SharePoint. Com, when you create your office environment, you have it sitting there. But it is a blank canvas. So what do you do with it? And this is where we sort of step our clients through. And it very much is that journey process of using SharePoint.

You can have the big vision, and you want to have the big vision of what this potentially can encompass, which is great, which is excellent because you want to be driving to that. But you don’t want to be doing that all in one chunk. You really want to be chunking this down into really bite size pieces of work, and that bites really depend on the size of the business and who is involved. But what we find is it’s really about going through three or four key stages, and the first one is really around that discovery and design. I don’t always understand the breadth of files they have. They’ve traditionally had a file server or somewhere where they stash all this stuff and let’s say 40% of it, they never even look at and then 60% of it, they call on as occasionally. Yeah. And that’s where you need to start.

And we’ll probably clarify that point is that SharePoint. One of the key functions that we use it for is file storage. So your word, your Excel, your PDF, all those sort of files to replace that on premise style file server, traditional map drive sitting in map drive to a server in the corner of the office or whatever SharePoint. One aspect of SharePoint is replacing that. So it’s moving your files into an online platform to provide collaboration, to provide security, to provide mobility, all these sort of things tick, tick, tick. And that’s typically where we’ll start with most organizations. That sort of the starting point, which is let’s get it all up there first, get that data up there first. But the one thing I will say is don’t just take what you’ve got and move it there.

You do need to spend the time to think about the type of data. Not necessarily if it’s Word or Excel or whatever. But how does that data relate to each other within the business? What’s relatable data and how do we currently access it versus because it will be different. It’s not going to have you don’t go with a deep file structure, as you traditionally see on your F drive on your network where you’ve got 16 levels of folders that you will scroll down to get to the fold you want. Okay. So you’ve got to think about SharePoint and grouping data, grouping, common sets of data and rolling that up. That’s one aspect to think about.

And then a good starting place is structure that across your business units or the divisions in your business, sales, marketing operations. Break it into how you departmentalize your business and getting people a starting point. So again, we’re actually going back a step before we even move the file service. So we need to assess what you’ve got. Look at your data, understand your data. Think about where that should live in a structural component, and then go and build that starting point. That framework we call it the intranet site. It’s the landing page. You want to use SharePoint as the go to point in your business.

Sure. I’m going to land here. Excuse me. I’m going to land here and I’m going to get access to all the information that I need to do my job. Now, whether that’s a Word document, an Excel, a process, a procedure doesn’t matter. A link doesn’t matter. You want that one, that one starting point. And that’s where you start. The intranet is. Okay. Let’s get people familiar with that process, give them a reason to go to this site. Sure. And then we’ll start bringing in all the data from your other locations and bring it up there. I’m about to cough again. Yeah. Good. Yeah. He’s got out. I was giving Josh grief before coughing everywhere. So it’s about that. So it’s really about getting that framework. But don’t be worried about getting it right from day one, either.

Valuable point, because your business will change. Sharepoint will change. And that’s a key thing for it. You want to design this thing in such a way, you’ll design it today, then six months later doesn’t quite work the way I wanted to. But if I move this site to that location or the data to here, it’s going to be more effective for me. And that’s the beauty of it. Once it’s up there, you’re not locking yourself into a framework. And if you’re doing this in bite size chunks as well, you can adjust and pivot as you progress. This is a very agile style environment, whereas if you went, this is my big picture, and I’m going to spend massive amounts of time and money designing the big picture. It’s going to take you a lot longer to get to that endpoint.

Sure. And then by the time you deliver it, you’re now already making changes to something that may not have to be live. Yes. To be a bit more agile. You’re very agile about how you go about this, set those stage gates, and that’s how we structure their clients. It’s about let’s do that discovery. Let’s really provide some education, some insight into the tools you’ve got available, how they work, how they interact. What are the challenges you’re facing in the business? Because this process doesn’t work, or I can’t find this data or my team around the road and they can’t get access to the files, whatever those challenges are, know what they are.

Design a framework for it, build that framework, brand it personalize. It make it your own, get people engage with it, then start moving data into it, then start doing the fun stuff, the forms, the workflows, the data capture, all that sort of thing. Yeah, that’s the bit that’s going to add the biggest amount of value to your process and your business. But you’ve got to set that stepping stone first, and you’re going to get value out of those little those bits as you go through. I was going to say even stage one. I’ve seen people when they get transparency over what they actually have, it provides them with a massive relief around understanding where their information is in their business. Well, and that’s it. And getting access to that information, we can solve a hell of a lot of problems in getting that structure and getting the data moved up there. And it’s not a huge project in that sense. But we’ve had clients in their mobile.

They’ve got to connect to the VPN, they’ve got to connect to the network drive. They got to download that file, they got to find it. Okay. Yeah. That’s the one I want. Well, moving into that SharePoint environment, they go to the site that they know the files are. They can search, and it will bring up everything related to that. We could have them go to an app. We could have them go to wherever. But the search capability, the ability to have that file at your fingertips, on your phone, on a tablet, on your PC, at home, in the office. Doesn’t matter. You’re accessing the same data, the same file. And the other thing is you’re not having to copy and sync stuff all over your machine. We’re all connected.

Let’s be real. We are connected all the time. There is not really a spot where you’ll be, where you don’t have connectivity, even on the plane. And I caught a plane for the first time in twelve months yesterday. And I still have WiFi. I can still connect that whole. And it used to be a challenge. I can’t get access. I need to copy the fold of my machine and work on it. I think personally, it’s a non issue now. Yes, you go on everything’s online. You connected your laptop, you can get a SIM card for your laptop, tether to your phone, you’ve got gigs and gigs of data and all your plans and those things. So I think connectivity is no longer the barrier. There’s barriers around performance and speed. And if you’re regional and stuff like that considerations, but really identify where you’re going to be because most of the time you can understand what you’re accessing.

Yeah, understand what you’re accessing. So that is that sort of one or two stages, discover and design what it is. What do you got? Write down that big picture, write down the ten processes that need to be developed and really understand that. But you want to then Hone in on getting the framework right and then really focus on the one or two that are either the low hanging fruit where you can get a quick win with high value return or something that we might have to invest a bit more time in. But we know that the return and the value of the business is there, and there’s always that opportunity there. And the engagement factor, I think as well you touch on before is really important about getting people in the business to come there for a reason.

You’ve got to get them there for a reason because it is changed now. People are always resistant to change. That’s just nature of people. So one you’ve got to give them a reason to go to here. And sometimes that reason is forced. Well, you can’t access that file anywhere except here. Now go here, get them engaged and start using it. And then the rest will come. You’ll have high adopters in your business. I don’t actually remember what the percentage of it within your business is. A percentage of people who are early adopters and they will jump on it and use it. And then the rest will start to get and they’re always going to have those resistant to change. But this is where they have to go. They have to go there to get that file to get that process. And the idea is as you move more of those functions into that over time, is that the consistency in your data collection is going to improve the consistency in your reporting because we want to move away from that printed out document.

We are capturing information and it’s getting written out on email to someone and then someone’s reentering it. Well, let’s just get it entered at the source accurately the first time. Yeah, it might seem like a little bit. Well, actually, it’s not any extra work for someone to go to a tablet and enter in a form than it is for them to go find the form, print the form, write on the form, scan the form, send it to someone else who’s then got to enter it somewhere. So we’re cutting projects. We’re cutting time and making people more efficient. So that’s really it. And getting to that point. And the key element around those processing is there has to be a design element around those. You have to map out what it is that you want to do. You can’t automate or make a process electronic. That’s a bad process.

Yeah. It’s not going to work. So you have to spend the time to map that out and get clear in your mind what it’s going to be. But again, you’re not tied to that process. Get it in iterate. Iterate and change. Yeah. Look, there’s cost in that, but you’ve got to get that balance, spend that time up front, get 80 90% of that process. Now this is what we want it to look like on paper. Let’s go and develop that. Let’s go build it, whether it’s a one day sort of development or whatever that needs to be, depending on the complexity of it, build it out, use it, refine it, know that there’s going to be bugs in it. Know that it may not be 100% from day one because you want people using it as fast as possible so you can get it fixed as fast as possible.

Yeah, definitely. If we keep it insulated for too long. We’ve had these challenges before where we’ve looked at it for so long and so long, and it’s been the same people looking at it that we’re just repeating the same issues. We need to get new sets of eyes and some of it because it’s new to the business. New process. You got to let people see it and use it to know whether the issues are and just be comfortable with that. Be comfortable that it’s not going to be perfect from day one, because it’s new to you as a business. This is a new way of doing things. You can have your manual process in your form, and it’s probably got issues in it. Now you’ve got to give the technology a bit of a break in that sense, but just know that it will get there. And I think that’s kind of one thing to keep in mind is that it needs to be an iterative approach.

You need to be agile with your approach, but you need to get it. It needs to be a faster market stall thing. 100%. Yeah. Sort of make quick decisions, not depending that they’re going to be the decisions that you’re going to make in six months. Yeah. And I think that’s really important. I think that’s the world we live in now as well. Yeah, there is that it’s an unknown factor, and people got to embrace that a little bit because they’re the people who are saying they’re getting the best outcome. So it’s people that kind of dive into it a bit, get their hands dirty, mess around with it and then go.

Actually, I think if we change these couple of things, it may seem counterintuitive at times to do that, but if you are embracing it quickly and doing it, you’re not actually going to be wasting that much time or effort in developing it, because if you spend six months trying to map the process to every little detail and then go and develop it and then roll it out, you’re now, at six or nine months in your project, things change and the business has changed and you’ve developed this thing and people say, oh, no, we changed that form six weeks ago. Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s go back. Start again. So look, it’s a balance. You’ve got to get that balance, right? It’s not an open checkbook Stalson. You definitely don’t want that. You want to make sure you’ve got fixed structures and fixed gates around these things. Okay. What is that minimum we want to get to.

This is what it needs to look like, right? We’re getting to here. What’s the next bit? What’s the next bit? But it’s not leaving it open ended. You need to have those definitions of what you would constitute successful. Definitely. That has to be there. But don’t be so hard on yourself and rigid around that if it’s going to change at that point, because you’ve got to allow for it. Yeah. So that makes sense. But definitely there’s always that design. There’s that framework development let’s use. And this is particular to SharePoint. Design it out from Where’s your data, what it is. What are the challenges you’re having? Understand what that is. Here’s a framework to start with.

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