According to Forbes, remote work is “standard operating procedure for at least 50% of the U.S. Population.”  As remote work and sharing become commonplace in the corporate ecosystem, companies are moving away from traditional network file sharing to collaborative platforms, such as SharePoint, Slack, and Trello, that function as all-encompassing, interactive workspaces.  These programs provide centralized, online access to company files, allowing teams to view, real-time edit, and share important documents at any time, from any place.  

It is likely that you have heard the expression “with great power comes great responsibility.”  This is certainly the case with collaboration platformsFor the sake of simplicity, I will reference SharePoint, but the following tips can be applied to other platforms, as well.  Project management offices (PMOs) can harness the fantastic power of SharePoint, but to fully realize its maximum potential, proper plans and policies must be created to ensure that files remain organized.  Without proper parameters in place, SharePoint will become unnavigable and users will resort back to archaic network file sharing or to sending documents via email. The following are a few SharePoint tips for file sharing success.

How Does SharePoint Fit Your PMO?

SharePoint supports users by providing tools that address needs such as collaboration, file storage, and the ability to inform or be informed by others.  While this platform is extremely versatile and knowing all its capabilities is important, understanding how SharePoint fits your PMO and how it can be tailored to your team is even more crucial.  There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to creating a successful sharing program; rather, companies must customize SharePoint to accentuate team strengths while minimizing weaknesses. Carefully considering this beforehand will avoid potential pitfalls and help your PMO eliminate features that do not provide value to your team.

Eliminate Junk Repositories

From corkboards and hard drives, to post-it notes and binders, a wealth of information is collected and held in “junk drawer” repositories such as these.  To avoid losing vital information, it is important to identify and replace with SharePoint the following types of junk drawer repositories:

  • Documents and images stored on hard drives
  • Documents and images stored on network file shares
  • Materials stored in three-ringed binders
  • To-do lists, calendars, and appointment reminders from cork boards
  • Files stored on Zip drives and CDs
  • Web resource links found in a user’s My Favorites folder
  • Documents from off-site storage
  • Information from sticky notes or flip charts

Managing Structured Assets

Structured assets are held in the databases of a company’s formal systems.  Formal systems store a wealth of information and allow users to easily query and aggregate data.  However, accessing these systems is often cumbersome and difficult, making it challenging to teach busy executives how to login, navigate, and generate reports.  SharePoint bypasses this issue by allowing you to readily share structured assets and assign accessing privileges only to parties that need to be privy to such information.  

Managing Unstructured Assets

Unstructured assets are items such as Word documents, Excel Spreadsheets, PowerPoints, etc., that are not housed in a company’s formal system databases.  Rather, these files make their way to locations such as PC hard drives, memory sticks, email folders, and filing cabinets. SharePoint provides a manageable environment for less structured documents such as these by allowing users to share, archive, backup, restore, secure, audit and analyze the unstructured assets of an entire organization within a centralized location.  

Show and Tell

People are creatures of habit, making it difficult to implement change.  When you discover new SharePoint features, do not be surprised if some members of your team are reluctant to incorporate the new capabilities.  It is important to take the time to show and explain the benefits of the new feature so that your team can see its value firsthand over the current approaches.

Lists

It is common for work groups to utilize spreadsheets or independent databases to keep track of data.  Unfortunately, these documents often do not make it to other departments, leaving part of the team in the dark.  SharePoint integrates with Excel and Access and allows users to simultaneously edit documents in real time.  By housing these resources in SharePoint, everyone on the team will be able to access up-to-date information and see edits in real-time.

Workflow

Managing a PMO is all about keeping up with processes, many of which operate manually.  SharePoint has a workflow feature that allows teams to generate tasks and other list items that push forward movement through the workflow.  By implementing this tool, you can track your processes and trigger specific documents at specific project steps.