I recently wrote about how we’re using SharePoint to monitor and improve our workflow in real time across our platform. To be even more efficient, we’ve also created SharePoint team sites to help our teams communicate better, increase productivity, and ultimately decrease project cycle times for client campaigns.
SharePoint Team Sites Enable Access, Collaboration, and Reference
In its most basic sense, a SharePoint team site provides an online space for a team to collaborate. Departments, project teams, and other groups at IWCO Direct each use team sites, including Client Services, Marketing/Creative, IT, Content Development, Operations, Quality, and HR. SharePoint’s inter-departmental application also lets certain teams share resources and workflow where appropriate.
Though the value of structuring our SharePoint team sites this way has always been apparent, our teams continue to find new ways to utilize them. For some, team sites have become a vital tool for departmental productivity. Several teams, such as Premedia, Marketing/Creative Services, Estimating, and Signoff, use a SharePoint list as a project intake portal to track work moving through their department. They assign owners to each project, track data, and move them through their internal department workflow—marking the project complete at the end.
Often referred to as Scheduling Boards or Project Trackers, these SharePoint lists provide real-time visibility of a department’s workload and assignments, as well as the status of each project. Not only are team sites used as daily to-do lists by each department’s employees, they are also used by others who want to know the status of their request and expected completion dates. This eliminates a lot of emails from stakeholders asking for status updates because they can track it on their own.
Customizing Teams from the Get-Go
Every time we introduce a team to SharePoint, we start by asking a standard list of questions to gather unique requirements for each team:
- Features—What lists, libraries, sub-sites, pages, workflows, InfoPath forms, version history, etc. are needed for the team site?
- Permissions—Who should have Read, Contribute, and/or Gatekeeper permissions on the site?
- Branding and design—What is the group’s preferred site name and URL? What team logos or other images should be used to brand the site? Which site features should use home page real estate?
- Content organization—Can team documentation be moved out of network drive folder structures into SharePoint libraries? Can they be better organized with metadata to improve navigation and documentation management/search capabilities? Can we set up effective views to improve the user experience? Should retention policies be set up to remove old content?
As each team starts to use their SharePoint sites, enhancement requests are easy to fulfill as employees have new ideas that will improve their online collaboration and productivity. For example, a project team for one of our Continuous Improvement initiatives use their site to automatically populate meeting agendas. This type of enhancement is easy to make in SharePoint and immediately improves teamwork, time management, and efficiency.
Keeping SharePoint Up to Date to Provide Better Value
In order to ensure all our important documents are up to date and easily accessible, we have a dedicated SharePoint Team that meets with each group annually to audit site permissions (ensuring the appropriate people have the right access levels), clean up outdated site content, and mine for new enhancement requests. These annual audits are key to keeping our sites current and trusted as the source of truth for information at IWCO Direct.
We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from clients about our use of SharePoint team sites. They are pleased to know our account teams can instantly access any Standard Operating Procedures or Quality Assurance processes on SharePoint and trust that it’s the most current version available. Plus, team sites have improved our internal communications, productivity, and project cycle times—all of which help us increase the efficiency of our clients’ direct marketing efforts.
Subscribe to SpeakingDIRECT to have new articles delivered to your inbox as they post. We promise to keep it fresh and interesting.