For the last couple of years, hybrid and home office have become the default for many of us. Most employees can nowadays work wherever they want, with the help of the tool that succeeded best in supporting this new way of working, Microsoft 365.
Collaborating through MS Teams, supporting company-wide communication using SharePoint-based intranets and supporting process digitalization with low-code PowerApps are just a couple of examples of how you can increase your employee’s productivity and efficiency.
But the introduction of Microsoft 365 in an organization and the larger footprint it has, can pose a challenge to your document management strategy. Its user-friendliness spurs employees to manage more and more documents in Microsoft 365, sometimes even breaking document management policies advising the management in other (legacy) document repositories.
In many organizations we notice an increasingly scattered document management landscape with all the disadvantages this brings:
- Employees have a hard time finding the correct information because data is spread across multiple systems.
- Costs are high as multiple document repositories are maintained in parallel.
- Governance and security policies need to be set up in every system separately.
Can and should you consolidate?
Inevitably this brings up the question of whether your organization can and should consolidate on a single repository. The benefits are clear:
- For IT: reduces the overhead to keep these applications up-to-date and their performance which prevents employees from taking new initiatives and providing new solutions to the organization.
- For C-level: reduces the cost of software licenses and knowledge retention.
- For users: makes it easier and more consistent to search and find the information they need.
Within the world of information management, the single repository principle as a "single source of truth" was very popular until 10 years ago. But in practice, performance and scalability issues coupled with usability issues due to bad functional fits, often made organizations live with sub-optimal landscapes of multiple content platforms in parallel.
These days, the public cloud has changed the rules: scalability has become a given, whereas the move to content services has shifted the usability issues to the capabilities of low-code platforms such as the Power Platform. So, the consolidation issue appears back on the table.
Organizations should ask themselves if every business scenario that’s supported by 1 or more ECM-systems can be migrated to a consolidated ECM-application. Maybe it’s not possible to consolidate on 1 single system. In that case, simplification of the landscape is the goal to strive for.
Why should you consolidate on SharePoint Online?
If you choose to consolidate in a single system, there are several good reasons why you should pick SharePoint Online as your target application.
- SharePoint Online is like a Swiss pocket knife. A single system can cover multiple business scenarios: communication, collaboration, digitalization, automatization, etc.
- Because it’s a SaaS-platform, it provides easy access to critical documents which is key for productivity and efficiency when working remotely. Scalability is also a given.
- Integrated user experience, both on desktop and mobile is a huge asset regarding user adoption and change management.
- Security is continuously updated. No software upgrades are needed because of new threads.
- SharePoint Online is probably already part of your ECM-landscape. So, there is no need to introduce a completely new product and product knowledge already exists inside the organization.
- Consolidating on SharePoint Online is very future-proof. It’s integrated into M365, in which Microsoft is heavily investing with regards to features and compliance.
At a lot of organizations, SharePoint Online is mainly used as a collaboration platform, but as part of M365, SharePoint Online is much more. It’s a Content Services Platform that seamlessly integrates with other M365 capabilities such as an intranet based on SharePoint Online, Power Platform for digitizing your processes through low-code development and cloud (Azure) services to exploit the full potential of data migration and app modernization. Consolidating and migrating your documents and data to SharePoint Online is not an end goal. It’s the key to improving the productivity and efficiency of your organization. It’s the key to doing more with less.