October 16, 2012

Going paperless with Microsoft SharePoint

by: Tony Marinaro
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If yours is like most businesses, you have all kinds of processes. If you’ve been in business for a while, you have probably honed these activities so everything runs so smoothly that you never give them a second thought.

And then it happens … a situation that is a little out of the ordinary. Maybe an item was missing from an order. Or a check got lost on the way to the bank. Or a customer you thought was gone forever came back into your commercial life. And then you needed information. You needed to find that letter `or order or contract that was supposed to be filed.

You needed to break into your process and run it backwards to find the information, but you found it impossible.

When the paper trail starts breaking down, business owners realize that there must be a better way.

One solution is Microsoft SharePoint. While it can be used and customized to meet almost any business need, one of SharePoint’s core strengths is document management, which is the first step toward truly paperless processes.

SharePoint has document libraries and integrated Office document editing, so it offers a convenient mechanism for storing and distributing shared documents created with the software you already use.

Another great function of SharePoint is the built-in approval workflow. Out-of-the-box it supports a three-stage approval for “publishing” new versions. This enables content managers to review edits before making them available to all users. This document management also has built-in version tracking and audits so document history can be easily obtained. Documents can even be linked to data records both in SharePoint and in other Microsoft products such as Dynamics CRM.

SharePoint has the flexibility to limit creation to specific templates when authoring new documents. This feature ensures that sales receipts never end up in the quotes library.

SharePoint Online allows users to create documents directly in their browsers via Office Web Apps, which are compatible with all major web browsers. Several Office products even support real-time collaboration through SharePoint – no more opening a read-only copy and waiting for your colleagues to finish.

When you realize that your business needs immediate access to documents, whether at your desk or in the field, you should investigate SharePoint. It may be the efficient, cost-effective solution that fits.

in: Collaboration

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