The more I work with Microsoft SharePoint (SP), the more I learn of its potential and its quirks, but I always like a good challenge. One great feature of SP is its collaborative environment to build team sites, project sites, and knowledge communities.
For each project we have, we build project sites to allow easy collaboration with both internal and external customers. Each site stores the following:
- Libraries of development, project management, graphics, standards, and template files
- Meeting calendars, agendas, notes, and action items
- Announcements, milestones, issues, resource contact info, and links to related sites
Each project site can be customized with product or customer graphics, logos, and colors. Various permissions can be set up to secure the site, such as read-only, contributor, approver, designer, and owner. When located behind a company’s firewall, a login and password must be obtained to access the site, providing a secure location for project work. I can set up versioning for uploaded files and identify authorized resources that can approve which files are available for all site users.
Depending on the project needs, I can also add blogs and wikis. Since our company is expert at capturing knowledge, we put the wikis to great use. Whenever a team member develops a process or procedure or solves a troubleshooting problem, it’s documented in a wiki topic. Some of our wikis have become so large that we’ve split them up into smaller wikis. That’s where SP’s search capabilities are a big help in locating any “lost” content.
Wikis save our team a lot of time, especially in cross-training team members and training new resources. We don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. The topics can even be printed and kept as a quick desk reference, especially for those long drawn-out procedures with what seems like a zillion steps.
Because we have quite a busy team, blogs or discussion boards give us an open forum to collect opinions, ideas, issues, and solutions. This minimizes time we have to spend in meetings. Brainstorming is great when everyone has the same free time in the schedule, but most of the time that isn’t possible. Blogs and discussion boards can ease that void by capturing each person’s thoughts, ideas, and suggestions any time of the night or day.
In future blogs I’ll talk more about how we create knowledge communities in SP. Our Knowledge Communities are collections of standards, templates, samples, procedures, processes, application tips, and best practices for our major areas of development, product offerings, applications, or team roles. Everything you need to know to work on that one area is kept in one location so all interested parties can quickly access, use, and update it as needed.
I welcome your questions and comments about using SharePoint or setting up project sites, team sites, and knowledge communities.