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4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

ways to improve

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

to work, with one another; cooperate

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

Case and Point:
Most organizations are looking for ways to When collaborating, teams need to get access to the same
support collaboration because it brings out the information, which is often spread in electronic and paper

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best ideas and improves the way teams work documents. Dealing with all of these documents is not productive,
together. While collaboration sounds great on and people severely underestimate how much time this takes.
paper, it’s difficult to implement: employees In a recent webcast, we asked our audience how much time
are scattered in different locations, they access they spend managing documents. Most participants estimated
information via traditional and mobile devices, that 25% of their time was used for handling documents. This is
and they have different comfort levels with consistent with industry analyst findings that 75% of the time is
using technology. spent working with documents and email is wasted in searching
and filing. AIIM has found that, on average, respondents spend
There is no shortage of collaboration tools on more than an hour and a half per day processing their emails,
the market today, from email to wikis and other with one in five spending three or more hours of their day. i
Enterprise 2.0 tools. Business managers are
often tasked with finding the right platforms While there is no silver bullet to productive collaboration, this
to use, but it can be quite a time-consuming eBook walks you through how to overcome 4 critical challenges
process to decide on the right tool, install the that are taking more time than you realize. More importantly, it
platform and train end-users. And, even once provides you with some ideas on how to make your teams more
the platforms are determined and end-users productive – in a way that makes your teams, your management,
are trained, a lot of their time is still taken up and ultimately, you more successful. It provides examples based
managing documents. on our experiences with our customers who use SharePoint, but
these factors are relevant regardless of your platform.

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

challenge 01: overcoming the challenge of paper documents

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

The first step in collaboration is getting all of the necessary documents into a central repository. Microsoft SharePoint has
emerged as a cost effective solution for implementing document libraries and enabling collaboration. Most organizations
already have SharePoint, and spinning up a portal and populating it with documents is a fairly straightforward task for
the average IT department.

Chances are you have a lot of paper documents that need to be converted to a digital format to truly reap the benefits
of a central repository. Traditionally, paper documents have been a bottleneck to document management. That’s
because scanning is typically done in a central location where documents have to be shipped before they are scanned.

Centralized scanning offers efficiencies gained with scale, but it can also foster inefficiency. For example: automobile
financing applications are created on paper at car dealerships, and need to be shipped to a central site before they can
be scanned and subsequently processed. This slows down the lending process and adds courier costs; not to mention
potential fines should the applications not be processed in a very tight window of time.

To overcome the paper challenge, we recommend distributed capture. This involves scanning documents at their
point of origin and then managing them through the workflow in a digital format. Mulit-Function Devices (MFD’s) can
typically be found in abundance in today’s office environment. You should seek out a solution that enables the average
office worker to leverage these devices to scan paper documents directly into the repository without adding additional
software, hardware or facilities costs.

In short, take advantage of distributed capture to streamline your business processes, reduce time and costs, and
foster greater collaboration

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

challenge 02: finding the right documents

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

Once all of your documents are in a digital format and So, you take to “hunting and pecking,” downloading
in one repository, you may think you are well on your and opening documents in the native application to
way to productive collaboration. Not so fast. Next, all see if you have unearthed the right file. This method
of your users need to find the information they need. to search is especially time-consuming if you are
This may seem like a straightforward task, but it often connected remotely, if the document is large or you
takes more time than you think. need to do this multiple times.

There is this belief that simply putting all of this Sure this annoying, but is searching for information
information into a repository such as SharePoint will really that much a “productivity killer”? According to
improve collaboration and productivity. However, if Forrester’s October 2009 Global Enterprise Content
you import your files into SharePoint “as is,” as many Management Online Survey, improving search was
early adopters of SharePoint have done, it’s going to one of the top three drivers for organizations investing
be very difficult for users to find the information they in ECM.ii
This research is in line with findings from AIIM in
Here’s something you have probably experienced: which reducing time and effort to find information and
You start searching for information, but the right documents is the number two reason respondents said
documents aren’t appearing because there is no rhyme they would invest in a collaboration tool. In this same
or reason to how files are named. You’ll see a list of study, 71% agree that it’s easier to locate “knowledge”
documents indexed by name, but the file names aren’t on the Web than it is to find it on internal systems.iii
descriptive, so you don’t know what they are. That’s very telling!

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

Figure 2: Content Sharing, Improved Search, and Compliance Lead ECM Investment Drivers.
“What are the most important drivers for your organization’s investment into ECM?
Select up to 3 that apply.”

Content Sharing


Improved Search

Cost-effective Automation

Consolidation of Archives

Version Control


Other, please specify

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%

Base: 123 ECM decision-makers who expect their organization deployments or

use of ECM to increase over the next 12 months
(up to three responses accepted)

Source: Forrester’s October 2009 Global Enterprise Content Management Online Surveyii
55706: Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Online Survey

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

Make it easier for your users to find the information they need
There are some simple ways that you can improve your users’ search experience and make them much more productive


One of the easiest ways to shorten the time it takes users to

find the information they need is to use a tool that enables them
to preview documents. This saves a lot of time because users
can see what the documents are before opening or downloading
them. When looking for a document preview tool, find a solution
which can be used on any device, without the need to install
anything. Also, look for a solution that will enable previewing
large documents quickly.


While it would be fantastic to require that all users use

common naming conventions, this simply isn’t realistic. However,
in lieu of this, it is helpful to be able to search on document
properties. Document properties provide descriptive details about
This is a screenshot showing Vizit , a SharePoint
the document, such as comments, tags and related dates and document viewer, previewing a PDF document . A
people. Of course, this assumes that all documents have updated thumbnail is placed next to documents so users can
properties, which isn’t always the case. But, if you can edit quickly find the information they need.
document properties on the fly, files can be found more easily the
next time.

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

TIP: Figure 15: Which three of the following benefits would most likely justify a spend on
collaboration tools within your organization? (>10 employees, N=656)
Images can be made searchable
through the use of iFilters. Low
cost, third party iFilters can Enhanced teamwork and knowledge sharing
convert bit maps to text, which
Reduced time and effort to find information and
can then be exposed to search documents
engines without cosmetically
Improved efficiency of documents or proposal
altering the image itself. This creating process
allows them to be found in a
Faster project delivery
search even if the document
properties don’t match the search Reduced travel costs and time
Fewer mistakes due to wrong versions or incorrect
transcription of changes

Better relationships with partners and consumers

Reduced storage of email attachments

Support of Green Initiatives

Better Innovation

Fewer cycles on sign-offs

My organization is unlikely to spend anything on

these tools

Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0, AIIM 2009iii

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

challenge 03: maintaining document integrity while sharing ideas

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

Another key to successful collaboration is having the Each of these methods work, but none is especially
ability for multiple users to review and edit a document. productive:
As just discussed, the first hurdle users face is finding -- Email: it takes lot of time for the reviewer to
the right document to edit. And, once everyone is on describe their changes. For the person managing
the same page, you need to manage a way to capture the revisions, it is time-consuming to make all of
and record everyone’s changes. these changes.
-- Marked up copies: While making changes directly
There are a lot of ways to share changes. According to a hard copy may save the reviewer some
to an AIIM survey of 656 members, the three most time, it is time-consuming to make and distribute
common collaboration tools are: the copies. Of course, the feedback is often not
immediate, especially if all of the reviewers are not
-- Emailed suggestions and changes located together. And, it takes time for the person
-- Marked up paper copies managing the revision to incorporate all of the
-- Review and track changes in Wordiii changes.
-- Tracked changes in Word: From a time perspective,
this often is the most efficient, but you still need
a central person to compile all changes into one
document. And, it can be easy to lose track of the
most current version of the document

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

In many fields, such as the medical field, you can’t change the original documents because you need to stay compliant with regulations
like HIPAA. However, when you have multiple people working on a document, it’s difficult to track comments.

Keep original documents in tact

Regulatory compliance takes many forms, and while document management systems can help, they are not a complete solution.
Ultimately, you need to have the right business practices. One of the easiest ways to maintain regulatory compliance is by keeping
your original documents intact. Instead of having multiple versions of the document, it is best to use a solution that allows users to
annotate the original document. This way, it is easy for multiple users to keep track of recent changes.

Productivity Gain in Action:

It’s easier to manage medical records by supplementing the privacy compliance functions already built into SharePoint. Limiting
editing access to sensitive documents enables you to be productive while not running afoul of compliance regulations

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

challenge 04: finding tools that all end-users can use

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

As a business manager, you are well aware that you need to serve people with varying technical skill levels, which can be a real
challenge. Forrester identifies four personas who need to access information:

- Michael, a Mobile Professional, who needs to be connected and productive from anywhere;
- Diane, a Deskbound Contributor, who wants you to keep it simple, but powerful;
- Oliver, an Online Practitioner, who’s typically on his feet but needs access on the go; and
- Andie, an Accidental iWorker, who uses computers only because she has to at work.iv

You can probably relate. It’s not easy to implement tools that cover the requirements for all of these types of users. Your goal is to
have users using the tool instead of wasting time trying to install and figure out how it works.

Select tools that are easy to use

To accommodate all needs, you need to select tools that act as a natural extension of the browser experience, which means there
is nothing to install on the user’s system. According to Forrester, this is very important: ECM decision makes do not want a solution
with a “heavy IT footprint.”v

You also want to use tools that can be deployed on a server that anyone can access via any browser based on user rights.

By selecting tools that are easily accessed and used, not only will more people be using the tool, but the help desk will also be getting
fewer calls.

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

Uses many

Diane Michael
Deskbound Mobile
Contributor Professional
(24%) (28%)

Low need for High need for

mobility mobility

Andie Oliver
Accidental Offline
iWorker Enthusiast
(35%) (13%)

Uses few

Schadler, T. Harness the Power of Worforce Personas. Retrieved 9 April 2010, from

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration


4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

Productive collaboration doesn’t need to be an oxymoron. Platforms like SharePoint provide a fantastic foundation for collaboration,
and there are add-on tools that you can use to take collaboration to the next level. Vizit helps companies be more productive by
making it much easier for users to find, share and process information. This not only makes your job easier, but it satisfies the
requirements of your key constituents:

-- Management: By choosing tools that can be used with your existing platform, you can keep costs low. You also minimize training
and supports costs.
-- Users: When you use tools that don’t require new desktop software, your users are more independent. They can also do their jobs
more efficiently, making you the hero.

To see these productivity tools in action, please visit


1. Do I scan paper documents at the beginning or end of 5. Can users add comments and notes to documents while
the process? they are viewing documents?
2. Can my scanned documents be searched? 6. Do all of my users need the same applications to
3. Can users easily preview documents when searching view shared documents, or does my viewer solve this
for information, or do they need to download and open problem?
them? 7. To help maintain compliance, can users add annotations
4. Can users search on document properties and quickly to documents without changing the original?
find the documents they need? 8. How efficient is remote viewing of large documents?

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration

i. AIIM. AIIM Industry Watch: Email Management: The good, the bad and the ugly. 2009.

ii. Forrester, Global Enerprise Content Management Online Survey, October 2009

iii. AIIM. AIIM Industry Watch: Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0. 2009.

iv. Schadler, T. Harness the Power of Worforce Personas. Retrieved 9 April 2010, from

v. Forrester. The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management Suites, Q4 2009.

4 ways to improve SharePoint Collaboration