Many organizations have gone to Office 365 – most because they saw the strategic value of a Cloud Solution and other because, well, Microsoft made them a deal they couldn’t refuse.
The bottom line for all businesses is that it makes dollars and sense to transform from a Client-side model with expensive servers to a Cloud-based solution. They have effectively eliminated the need to manage and install countless updates on so many different Client versions of Office. These companies give their employees greater capabilities and accessibility across all devices….anywhere… anytime.
That is…if they use it. The fastest Ferrari in the world can’t do much if you don’t learn to drive stick shift. We are finding that while a lot of people have moved to Office 365, in reality, their users haven’t adopted and are using the crutches of Client-based programs.
So now, you are paying for the cloud and the clients!?! Why should you pay for something you are not even using?
Putting It All Together: The Components of an Operational Portal Structure at the Core of a Digital Workplace
In our last blog "Putting Office 365 to Work with an Operational Portal Structure," we introduced the concept of an Operational Portal Structure (OPS) and how it is the contextual core of a Digital Workplace. We explored the meaning of an OPS, its evolution, and how it can be realized through Office 365 and SharePoint Online.
In this blog, we will take a deeper look at the core components of an OPS, what is necessary for it to be part of an Office 365 Digital Workplace, and why.
Can the new SharePoint Communications or Hub sites be my out-of-the-box Intranet?
In the last few months Microsoft has rolled out its new Communications Site, and at Ignite 2017 announced Hub. We compliment the Microsoft SharePoint team on the work they have done and how great the sites look; it's a vast improvement over the old user interface.
The only issue is that many users now think that they can put in a Communications Site and like magic have an Intranet. The question remains:
Are these new sites really my free out-of-the-box Intranet for my organization? The answer is perhaps yes, but probably no.
If your Intranet requires a simple news and activities page that looks good and is easy to create, then yes. If your requirements go beyond this then get ready to roll up your sleeves and put in some time and skills.
With the base Communications Site, you will find that the content will soon become stale, and you have no options for content targeting or personalization. Additionally, there are no built-in processes for approval or other content related activities. All news consists of wiki pages that require the content manager to know SharePoint who must dive into Site Contents and the Site Pages Library to manage news items.
Events consist of SharePoint calendars not related to Office 365 calendars. Communication Sites can only be created in their own site collection, so you cannot mix them with your existing SharePoint team sites. This means that you will have to manage users, permissions, apps and much more for each site collection, which can become cumbersome and complex. There is actually a long list of shortcomings with the design that can eliminate it as the magic out-of-the-box Intranet solution for many organizations. See more in the Clearbox Consulting blog.
Intranet Portal on Office 365 Part 3: The Intranet at the Core of an Integrated Experience
Intranet portal design has evolved considerably as a result of Office 365 and SharePoint. As more organizations come to understand and embrace the Digital Workplace, employees expect a centralized, seamless user interface that they can access anywhere, anytime.
As marketing continues to move forward in a digital direction, there will be no end to the number of tools, ways, strategies, services, applications, processes, both internal and external, that professionals must track, manage, organize, share, and create daily. Here is an example:
Does this look like your day? Are you overwhelmed yet? Because this is what a typical day of a marketing professional looks like. Even with multiple marketing staff, it can still be stressful. But, if you are part of a small business and the only marketing staff member is you, it’s downright taxing.
So, with all this marketing mayhem, how do you organize it all? How do marketing professionals manage everything? How can staff track all of the campaigns, social media, web traffic and updates, service requests, and so on? And, just as important, how do external employees, such as Sales or executive management access the materials they need?
Intranets-in-a-Box: Are you paying big money for what will be available free next year?
By Darrell Trimble
A lot of new Intranet-in-a-box offerings for SharePoint are flooding the market that promise businesses a vibrant intranet that employees will love and use. These Intranets-in-a-box promote an enhanced interface, responsive design, content targeting, and social features.
As with any technology or software purchase, it’s important to educate yourself on what you are actually paying for. SharePoint, especially SharePoint Online, already comes with the features mentioned above as part of its base platform.
So, what are these new Intranets-in-a-box really providing, which can cost businesses close to $50k? To be straightforward, they are putting a new face on what some people consider “old and ugly” SharePoint. This scenario is similar to paying for a complete kitchen remodel when all you’re really getting is kitchen cabinet refacing.
Even more interesting is that with the announcement of the new SharePoint user experience, the need for “refacing” will soon go away. The Intranet product-specific user experiences will collide with the common user experience Microsoft is releasing across Office 365 components, such as Groups, Planner, and email.
Your Intranet should share this common look and feel with the rest of Office 365; otherwise, it will stick out like a sore thumb, leading to inconsistency with other Office 365 services that users traverse each day.
Many business and IT professionals are now familiar with the benefits of an intranet portal. Serving as an organization hub, internal employees can share information, documents, news, events, and can access departmental services.
Built strategically and consistently, an intranet portal can drive internal business collaboration and productivity while also providing better service across the organization.
Business solution portals, most often deployed on SharePoint On-premise and more recently Office 365 in the cloud, are seeing a rise in popularity and demand.
So why not extend that model to your extended organization? Your business partners, boards, committees, members, volunteers, and clients? Rather than an “intra,” why not an “extra” net for external users?
According to TechTarget, an extranet is a private network that uses Internet technology and the public telecommunication system to securely share part of a business's information or operations. An extranet can be viewed as part of a company's intranet that is extended to users outside the company.
Without an extranet, many organizations resort to sending emails or using basic document hosting sites, such as dropbox, to exchange content and information with outside partners and groups. This is time-consuming and ineffective for maintaining and building partner and business relationships.
By creating an extranet environment, you give your external partners and groups a way to collaborate externally as well as self-service access to more cohesively work with internal staff. This reduces work load at your business, improves communication, and builds a better business relationship.
Project management is an essential function of every organization, with all levels requiring the ability to track and manage projects to some extent. Unfortunately, most organizations spend money and effort with the best of intentions on a project management tool that cannot be applied across the entire organization. This benefits only a few employees, such as the professional Project Manager, but leaves a majority of other departments and roles, including Marketing and IT, to use insufficient methods like Excel for project management needs.
The reality is that the level of project management functions varies across organizations. One size does not fit all. After more than 1,000 customer deployments, SP Marketplace has seen a variety of project management models in a variety of different size organizations.
In large enterprises or for certain project-heavy industries like construction firms or IT companies, there is a need to manage large-scale projects, often managed by project professionals. This requires rigorous processes, resource scheduling, and extensive reporting.
While these projects are critical for the organization, there also exists many smaller projects in departments that are managed by casual project users, often department heads. Applying the same rigor and processes as large projects can result in a situation where managing the project takes more time than the project itself. It is for this reason that many managers still use Excel for projects. In this blog, we will look at options for how to manage and track small to medium projects.