Enhancing Collaboration and Streamlining Project Management with a Tool You Likely Already Own
During a recent podcast episode, “SharePoint and the AEC” ProjectReady CEO Joe Giegerich and Head of Development Shaili Modi-Oza delved into what’s possible when using SharePoint on architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) projects. SharePoint, a long-standing collaboration tool within the Microsoft 365 (M365) suite, offers a wide range of features that can greatly benefit AEC professionals. Additionally, because it’s a tool you likely already own if you use Outlook for email, knowing how to use it effectively in the scope of a project can drive greater ROI of your existing M365 investment.
This blog post explores the key points discussed during the podcast episode and sheds light on SharePoint’s advantages, challenges, and best practices for implementing it effectively within the AEC sector.
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Enhancing Collaboration and Document Management
SharePoint is renowned for its robust collaboration capabilities, making it one of the best tools for teams working together on projects. It provides a centralized platform for storing files and documents, allowing team members to collaborate seamlessly. SharePoint’s features, such as versioning, metadata, security controls, and integration with the M365 stack, contribute to efficient document management within the AEC industry.
Joe and Shaili highlighted the integration between SharePoint and Microsoft Teams. While Teams serves as a comprehensive communication and collaboration hub, the underlying document library in Teams is powered by SharePoint. However, using only the default document library within Teams can lead to challenges in managing permissions and governance effectively. To fully leverage SharePoint’s potential, it is crucial to explore its extensive capabilities beyond the default document library provided by Teams.
The Power of SharePoint Integration
SharePoint’s integration with the rest of the M365 suite offers numerous benefits to AEC professionals. The episode touched upon key integrations, including Teams, Power Platform, Outlook, Record Center, and E-Discovery. Teams, for instance, consolidates various M365 tools and incorporates SharePoint’s document library. This integration allows project teams to access SharePoint’s features within the familiar Teams interface.
Furthermore, SharePoint’s integration with Record Center and E-Discovery proves advantageous for AEC organizations that deal with litigation and require document lifecycle management. Record Center enables organizations to classify, retain, and dispose of documents according to their specific requirements, ensuring compliance and reducing data clutter. E-Discovery simplifies the process of searching and retrieving relevant information for legal purposes.
Challenges in SharePoint Implementation
While SharePoint offers immense potential for the AEC industry, there are certain challenges that organizations must address. Maintaining security and permissions, particularly on a project-level scale, can become complex and time-consuming. The podcast emphasized the difficulty of managing permissions across multiple projects and numerous SharePoint sites. As team members join or leave projects, managing their access rights and ensuring proper security trimming becomes an ongoing challenge.
Another challenge highlighted was the risk of misusing the “share with” function in SharePoint. While it allows easy sharing of documents, it can lead to uncontrolled access permissions and compromise security if not used judiciously. Implementing granular security controls and ensuring consistent permissions across libraries and sites becomes vital to prevent unauthorized access.
Best Practices for SharePoint Implementation
To make the most of SharePoint in the AEC industry, organizations should adopt several best practices:
- Establish an organized structure: Create separate SharePoint sites for each project, leveraging M365 group functionality. This enables better management, granular security, and consistent taxonomy across projects.
- Define a comprehensive taxonomy: Determine the taxonomy that suits the organization’s needs and structure SharePoint libraries accordingly. Standardizing metadata and establishing naming conventions improves searchability and information management.
- Leverage metadata and default values: Utilize SharePoint’s customizable metadata functionality to automate document tagging and enhance search capabilities. Default values can be set based on the library or location, simplifying the user experience.
- Emphasize consistency and simplicity: Promote consistency in library structures and metadata across projects. Simplify end-user interactions by minimizing manual input requirements and providing intuitive interfaces.
How ProjectReady Simplifies and Amplifies the Use of SharePoint
- Automate provisioning: ProjectReady streamlines the setup process by implementing automation tools that guide end users through the creation of SharePoint sites, ensuring consistent configurations, security trimming, metadata and taxonomy.
- Implement role-based access and simplify security management: We developed a matrix linking roles to specific permissions within SharePoint libraries. This simplifies the assignment of appropriate access levels to team members, ensuring secure collaboration and makes it easy to manage security in just a few clicks.
SharePoint is a powerful collaboration tool with immense potential for the AEC industry. By implementing SharePoint effectively, AEC professionals can enhance collaboration, streamline document management, and improve project workflows. Overcoming the challenges associated with security and permissions requires careful planning, automation, and adherence to best practices. SharePoint’s integration with the M365 suite provides a comprehensive solution for project management, document control, and secure information sharing within the AEC sector.
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Learn More About SharePoint and Microsoft in the AEC. Check Out These Resources: