Sharepoint is one of the most widely used collaboration and document sharing platforms in the world, with an estimated 200 million plus users across the globe as of 2020. With a long list of powerful functionalities, SharePoint is an incredible resource that can work wonders in the right hands. Unfortunately, it can also be a clunky, time-consuming behemoth if you don’t have the right processes in place to take advantage of it.
Unfortunately, statistics show that more users are closer to the latter than the former. Some of the more common problems reported by SharePoint users include trouble finding documents, poor UX and lack of integration with other platforms.
Given the rapidly growing number of SharePoint users, it’s most important that you implement the following best practices for knowledge management on SharePoint to avoid turning users away and jeopardizing your investment in SharePoint.
Three Best Practices for Knowledge Management on SharePoint
Manage Your Metadata
What is metadata? In layman’s terms, it is data about data. While there are several types of metadata, the most commonly used type in businesses is descriptive metadata, which describes data in terms of characteristics like author, date created, date modified, and file size.
You can check out this article for a quick intro on SharePoint metadata, but the consensus is that metadata can make locating files or documents on Sharepoint incredibly easy if everyone puts in the work.
If you can get your employees to diligently populate the metadata fields of any new files created or uploaded to the system, everyone will benefit from the improved user experience and searchability of data. Given that 54 percent of US professionals are wasting time searching for data, repurposing this time for more productive work is good for the business too.
Fortunately, SharePoint allows you to manage all your metadata centrally as well as create your own custom metadata fields. If you need help coming up with a system to classify or categorize your metadata, you can refer to this guide. As a system administrator, you should organize the metadata in both a business-friendly and user-friendly way that makes your overall workflow smoother.
Maintain a Single Source of Truth (SSOT)
One of the most common alternatives to SharePoint is the Confluence wiki from the Atlassian suite. While both SharePoint and Confluence can each make a solid case as to why one is better than the other, the fact is, lots of large companies have information stored on both these platforms simultaneously.
As such, it’s tough to maintain a SSOT because there is no synchronicity between both platforms. Time is wasted confirming which version is the latest, while mistakes might occur if the wrong version is used. This can result in costly misalignments for your company.
Imagine this scenario: Someone updated the existing sales enablement content on SharePoint with new product features and new pricing, but the sales team was not made aware of it since they are primarily based on Confluence. They end up using the old material and causing great confusion among prospective clients, which leads to a hit on your brand and revenue.
Imagine another scenario: Since new document versions are also not tracked automatically between both platforms, your sales team might add their own changes to the sales enablement material on Confluence while your marketing team is creating a different version on SharePoint. Think of the looks on their faces (and the time wasted) when they find out that they were doing something that was already being done by someone else on a different platform.
One application you should consider to avoid these scenarios is SharePoint Connector for Confluence – an app that links them together and enables you to leverage both of their strengths. With SharePoint Connector for Confluence, you can instantly embed, share and edit SharePoint documents in your Confluence page. You can also upload files to SharePoint directly from your Confluence page. Likewise, you can easily embed Confluence Cloud pages in SharePoint with just a few clicks.
Brand Your SharePoint
One of the best things you can do on SharePoint is to adapt your branding on it. Doing so can really improve your employees’ user experience since they won’t view it as just another generic tool for work. Besides, research has shown that internal branding can really improve employee engagement. With employee engagement at an all-time low, this is a simple step you can take to improve the situation.
You can simply customize it with your company colors and logo, or you can go the full nine yards and get really fancy with it.
A branded SharePoint site
Figure Out What Your Users Need
At the end of the day, SharePoint is owned by ALL users in the business. The end goal is to make collaboration and knowledge management as easy for them as possible.
If your documents and knowledge are all centralized on a single platform, but your users have trouble looking for data, consider establishing logical guidelines on metadata. Alternatively, if you have already established an effective system of data categorization and your data is extremely accessible (albeit on different platforms), you can consider SharePoint Connector for Confluence to address the issues of synchronicity. As for branding, it doesn’t exactly fall under the business-critical category, but it’s definitely something you can consider to improve the overall user experience.
SharePoint has so much potential for your business. If you can adhere to the guidelines above, you’re positioning yourself and your organization for greater success!