Part 3: SharePoint Document Stores

Your first use will probably be as a document store. Why use this rather than the drive letter folder structure that you’ve used for years? Well with SharePoint’s document stores, you can setup as many as you like and have many extra features such as:

  • Version control, you can revert to any previous saved version
  • Check out allows you to know if anyone else is working on the file
  • Check In function allows you to have an approval process before it replaces the previous version
  • Alerting – get an email as soon as a file changes or a summary email later
  • Collaboration – allows multiple people to edit a file at the same time, seeing each other’s changes as soon as they are typed
  • Accessibility – it’s a web site so you can access it from anywhere with no Complex VPNs, etc. provided it’s published with a security certificate.

These document folders (which can hold any type of file) can be automatically created when for instance you create an account or opportunity in CRM. That way they are sensibly named and the files relating to that account or opportunity can be kept in a place where everyone can file them.

SharePoint Portal Sites

It’s very easy with SharePoint to create a web page that has different information, or what are called parts, on it. These can be used to provide sets of information to people both internally and externally.

One page can have:

  • Any display of information from Dynamics NAV, for instance a list of orders or items, resources or people.
  • Any list of information from CRM, activities, opportunities, accounts, cases.
  • Document stores
  • Hyperlinks to relevant sites or information
  • Announcements, discussions or tweets
  • Calendar or email linked to a O365 account
  • External web site pages

What this allows you to do is create specific sites very quickly. That might be a site for a internal project that has the documents relating to that project, the contacts from CRM and the budget information from NAV displayed (graphically using a PowerBI chart?) along with a calendar of events, a SharePoint list of outstanding issues and a discussion area. I’m used to using just such a project site for all the projects I’m involved in where we invite the people outside my Organisation to participate to.

Another common one is a vendor portal. Listing outstanding purchase orders from NAV and allowing them to update key bits of information, usually only the due date, means they know exactly what’s expected. Being able to see the net prices and discount you have setup for them and propose changes which you then have to approve is another common one. Finally being able to see the usage and even expected demand on the items they are the preferred or authorised vendor for might enable them to do their own forecasting better, meaning you don’t have to and they have less excuses for stock shortages.

With the integration to your back office systems just there and the communication and security taken care of for you all non-sales web sites should be built using SharePoint.

Note

This post is part of a 5-part series. A link to rest of the posts in this series are below;

Author: James Crowter

I’m passionate about how businesses can improve their efficiency by getting process optimal more of the time. For the last twenty five years I’ve worked to help organisations of all sizes and types implement the ERP & CRM software that typically they decide they need when things are going wrong. I’ve seen that work unbelievably well and enabled those organisations to rapidly grow but I’ve also had some hard projects over that time where it’s felt more like warfare at times. Since 1996 (and version 1.01) I’ve been working with a small Danish product called Navision that’s now become Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV and I’ve also been using and consulting around Microsoft CRM since 2005. As managing Director of one of the longest established first Navision and now Microsoft Dynamics partners I’ve been involved in the complete history including numerous product councils and system design reviews. It’s my privilege to know many of the key Microsoft executives and product designers and have insight into both where the products are now and their future direction. So colleagues & clients have asked me to start this blog to share some of the insight that both this knowledge (obviously where not restricted by NDA’s or client confidentiality) and experience can help. Specifically I want to concentrate not on the specifics of how (there are some great blogs already for that) but why. If any user helps their business make better decisions or consultant can give better advice then that will be objective achieved. I founded Technology Management in 1992 and have led from the front ever since. Helping clients use technology to grow their business is my passion through explaining technology in terms that everyone can understand. My interest in computing began at the age of eight, long before my school had the equipment to cope. Throughout school and university I developed software commercially. I hold many IT certifications, such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV (for over 17 years), Microsoft Dynamics CRM (for over 10 years), as well as Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange and SQL. In October 2015, I was awarded the title of Most Valuable Professional (MVP), a title given to a select few individuals (31 currently) across the world specifically for Dynamics NAV. After years of working with a range of distribution and manufacturing software for hundreds of organisations, I focus on understanding the business requirements of an organisation, what it will take to deliver the systems required to maximise their potential. Follow me online via my other social channels: - Twitter: @jamescrowter - LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jamescrowter Or email me directly at james[.]crowter[@]tecman.co.uk.

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