6 Data-Backed Tips to Make Users Love SharePoint Online

It can be very difficult to get users to buy-in on SharePoint for a number of reasons. For starters, not very many of them are familiar with the platform, even if it is made by Microsoft. Gartner analyst, Mark Gilbert, writes that often “end users rarely love the platform, but at best accept it as something they need to use”. 

At the same time, it is its exceptional data-driven proficiencies that have driven preference for SharePoint to all new levels. Accordingly, in this chapter, we focus on six data-backed tips which we are sure will compel users to heighten their love for SharePoint Online even further.

1. Seamless Piece-by-Piece Data Migration

Given our love for SharePoint, it is also a certainty that there is a strong preference to keep up with its latest and best version. For instance, if you are on SharePoint 2007, there would be a strong urge to migrate to SharePoint 2010 or to even more recent versions such as SharePoint 2013. Now amidst this migration process, trying to go through with things in one go can be daunting for many reasons – the time involved, the duration for which data may have to be offline, and so on. For this reason, our first tip, as backed by industry expert and ‎VP of Product Marketing at AvePoint, Mary Leigh Mackie, would be to take the piecemeal route for seamless migration to advanced SharePoint versions.

In Mackie’s words: “Environments and databases should be migrated granularly in order to aid seamless crossover to a 2010 environment, and third-party solutions can enable IT teams to complete this process according to business need, ensuring the most critical information is available to users quickly without disrupting workflow.”


2. Integrating with Outlook

If you’re forecasting, a great tip for synchronization would be to integrate SharePoint with Outlook as industry experts like Scinaptic Communications have asserted. The whole process is really simple where you start by going to the SharePoint site where documents are actually held, going to the Actions tab, and then simply choosing the Connect to Outlook option – it really is as simple as that!

The advantage here is that the latest forecast spreadsheet will always be a simple ‘Send & Receive’ away. Further, with SharePoint Online, i.e. the cloud-based version becoming the norm for a vast majority of industry professionals, syncing or integrating with Outlook becomes absolutely vital.


3.  Sub-Sites for SSRS Reports

Across pretty much all Microsoft BI solutions – notwithstanding a variety of reporting technologies on offer, you are quite likely to come across SSRS or SQL Server Reporting Service, with SharePoint being no exception.

Now, when it comes to these reports, a valuable tip would be to put them up in sub-sites as opposed to one gigantic report that appears right at the top of your site, an assertion backed by Advanced Analytics, Technology Solutions & Enablement expert Ted Nubel. The reason? Well, there are many.

For starters, preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data which may simply not be anyone else’s business! To give you an example, critical financial data need not be revealed to all personnel, even if they are part of the same organization. Further, in many situations, it is simply a case of information overload which you would like to avoid. For instance, one particular sub-unit of a business – in a completely different niche, may not have anything to do whatsoever with another sub-unit that is completely distinct. In all such cases, it makes perfect sense to have different SSRS reports for sub-sites – data management will be that much simpler!


4.  Online Process Guidance when it is needed – Performance Support

While it’s tempting to just wipe your hands clean of the training process after it’s been completed, it is your responsibility to make sure that learning never stops. There is a lot to SharePoint, and it won’t be easy to master it all after a few training sessions. Look at how your employees are performing and make sure that they are getting the support to keep learning and growing as a user to make them the best additions to your team. Utilizing an “in-the-moment” performance support systems like WalkMe goes a long way in ensuring that SharePoint users have access to the guidance they need, at the moment they need it, in order to ensure high productivity and performance.

This in turn is made easier in today’s day and age, particularly when you have resources like YouTube readily available, with a plethora of tutorials, guides, etc. on so many different realms of SharePoint. Also bear in mind that as SharePoint Online becomes the go to resource for industry professionals, the likelihood of them seeking out online process guidance will increase incrementally, which is why we stress on this aspect so much.


5. Setting up Automated Alerts

An invaluable tip for managing SharePoint sites particularly recommended by Jonathan Hassell, head of 82 Ventures, would be to setup alerts about changes. These are typically alerts which very clearly specify the changes made. That way, you don’t need to go back and cross-check, maybe go through each and every element / aspect of the site, before you even know where the change has been made and why – undoubtedly, some serious time to be saved here!

This tip becomes all the more pertinent in the case of SharePoint 2010 and beyond, given its flexibility to send out email or text message alerts so that even while you are on the go, you can be alerted about changes made. It is also invaluable in the context of things moving to the cloud wherein SharePoint Online is becoming the norm, whereby automated alerts prove all the more beneficial.


6. Adding Additional Columns Including for Metadata

Jonathan Hassell goes on to assert that the extremely pliable nature of SharePoint implies you can easily add additional columns to it, say for tracking additional information as well as for incorporating a drop-down list you may not have thought about previously.

Moreover, such columns prove absolutely priceless when you are looking to add metadata to your SharePoint, which in turn makes information searching and / or categorization that much easier and simpler.




Marissa Hart is the Lead Author & Editor ShareMe. ShareMe is a blog focused on SharePoint Online. SharePoint Online delivers the powerful features of SharePoint without the associated overhead of managing the infrastructure.