Using Office365 to Deploy a Succesful Intranet
SharePoint, Planner, Teams, Yammer and more!
For many years SharePoint has been the premium solution for deploying an Intranet across many enterprises, this tool was quite often out of the reach of many smaller businesses due to the cost and administration time taken to keep it running. Today we have SharePoint Online which is included in many business Office365 subscriptions including Office365 Business Essentials/Premium and E1 to E3.
Office365 also brings a range over other tools including Planner, Skype for Business, Yammer and the newly added Office365 Teams. These tools combined with SharePoint provide an exceptionally strong package to build a company portal / intranet. One of the biggest challenges is how Office365 can be pulled together to build an intranet solution and what’s the best way to roll it out.
Planning – The Most Important Step
The first step in any successful intranet project is to gather the requirements from your organisations employees this should include everyone from Managing Directors, Department Heads and all employees. Valto recommend brainstorming sessions in the organisation by team / department to identify the key requirements for an intranet project. This brainstorming process should include desires for an intranet such as a communication / news area, templates and key processes including any manual workflows that include email, word and excel steps.
Once the requirements have been gathered they need to be translated into which solution would work best within Office365 this may include Workflows, Forms & Document Libraries within SharePoint or organising tasks in Office365 Planner. This is the point where an organisation may call on a SharePoint specialist who will be sent the initial brainstorming documents and start reviewing the requirements in preparation for a Workshop.
The workshop typically takes the form of a day on site with the key stake holders for the Office365 SharePoint Project in which the brainstormed requirements have been translated into an agenda to discuss each of these by department or process one by one. During the workshop the SharePoint specialist will fully realise the requirements and understand how the business works while translating each requirement into an Office 365 solution where appropriate. Not all requirements work perfectly within Office365 and other packages may be better suited such as an ERP, the SharePoint specialist is trained to understand what works well within Office365 and what doesn’t to guide your organisation down the correct path.
The workshop covers each of the requirements and builds a structure for Office365 & SharePoint this will include the top level sites that are required such as departments, client areas, etc. identify reusable workflows such as manager approvals, understand on a high level how proceses per department are being handled and if these may suite better for a workflow solution where time savings can be made, network locations of files that should be migrated during any project (this could include a full file server migration.) and permissions that will be required for each site.
An example of the spreadsheet we create following the workshop can be found below,
|Parent||Name||Order||Type||Legal Hold||Archive||Review Workflow||Collect Signatures Workflow||Manager Approval Workflow||Network Location||Permissions|
|Home||1||Top Level / Site Collection|
|Links||1.2||Promoted Links||All Company|
|Clients||2||Top Level / Site Collection|
|Client 1||2.1||Sub Site||X||Sales Only|
|Documents||2.10||Sub Site||X||Z:Client DocumentsClient 1||Sales Only|
|Client 2||2.2||Sub Site||Z:Client DocumentsClient 2|
|Documents||2.21||Document Library||Sales Only|
|Reports||2.22||Document Library||Sales Only|
|Meeting Minutes||3||Top Level / Site Collection|
|Executive||3.1||Sub Site||Exectuive Team Only|
|Documents||3.11||Document Library||E:Exective||Exectuive Team Only|
|Calendar||3.12||Calendar||Exectuive Team Only|
|Links||3.13||Links||Exectuive Team Only|
|OneNote||3.14||OneNote||Exectuive Team Only|
|SMT||3.2||Sub Site||E:SMT||SMT Team Only|
|Documents||3.21||Document Library||SMT Team Only|
|Calendar||3.22||Calendar||SMT Team Only|
The example above shows how a structure for SharePoint could be built the following key information is displayed,
- Parent = This shows the top level site that would be created any any items underneath it.
- Name = A relevant name for each of the areas such as Meeting Minutes > Calendar
- Type = This is the best Office365 Solution for this type of information
- Legal Hold / Archive / Review Workflow / … / = These are requirements that have been picked up during the workshop that can be reused elsewhere. Legal hold as an example means the data stored in this area should be kept for 7 years and the Manager Approval Workflow is a standard workflow that assigns a task to someones manager such as when they submit a holiday request or change a document.
- Network Location = This is where files are currently stored in a file share or other service such as Dropbox that need to be migrated as part of an ongoing project.
- Permissions = This identifies what permissions will be required on each of the areas such as All Company would be everyone who has access to Office365 or Sales Only. These groups are defined on a separate worksheet along with the members.
One of the many challenges with rolling out SharePoint especially the 365 version is making sure it’s architecture has been defined correctly. Having one document library leads to trouble due to the 5000 item limit and having many folders nested inside a document library can mean path limits are reached. Our SharePoint Specialist factors all of this into the build to ensure you don’t run into problems in the long term and have a sustainable intranet solution.
Along with the mapping spreadsheet a workshop report document is also created that contains the following,
- Departmental Findings
- Recommended Phases
In the next part of this blog post we’ll cover building a SharePoint intranet solution once you have the requirements and the best methods to ensure success and keep costs down.