Businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on data. IDC forecasts the global data sphere to reach 175 zettabytes.
That’s a lot of data for the business community to handle, considering that data management is already a big challenge for many enterprises today. One of the biggest pain points is organizing and managing enterprise content, such as documents, videos, images, emails, and web material.
This is where an enterprise content management system (CMS) comes in handy. Let’s talk about how you can use Microsoft SharePoint as a powerful CMS solution.
What Is a Content Management System?
Before we get to SharePoint, let’s get the basics out of the way. What is enterprise content, and what is a CMS?
Enterprise content is a general term for any media that circulates within an organization. The media could be in any format, from documents and video to images. This includes shared emails, memos, training videos, reports, workflow material, and web posts. The content is sometimes created by multiple contributors and should be readily accessible to those who need it. This is what makes content management so challenging.
A CMS is a software or service that enables users to create, modify, manage, publish, share, and store content on a network platform—in this case, a corporate intranet or site. The CMS handles all the technical processes, such as file system management in the background, leaving the forward-facing part to the user.
CMS solutions come with all sorts of bells and whistles. But a good CMS must provide the following basic capabilities:
- Content creation
- Content management
- Content publishing
- Content discovery and retrieval
Content management is not to be confused with document management. A document management system creates, tracks, and stores structured documents such as Word, PDF, and Excel files. A CMS software goes well beyond document management. It also handles unstructured data and multimedia assets. In fact, a document manager is just a small part of a CMS.
What is SharePoint Online CMS?
SharePoint is a powerful web-based collaboration tool developed by Microsoft. It allows organizations to develop versatile intranet sites where users can create, view, organize, and manage information. SharePoint also offers Communication and Team Site Templates to meet today’s endless realm of collaboration and publishing opportunities. SharePoint Online is the cloud version of the on-prem SharePoint server. It runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.
SharePoint sites are designed for teams to share internal organizational information such as news and reports in well-structured, visually appealing formats. All this information is organized and managed by SharePoint Online CMS.
The SharePoint CMS is what’s known as a headless CMS. This is because the content repository is separate from the content display or interface. The disjointed structure means that users do not require any technical knowledge about the CMS to make it work. Interacting with the CMS feels seamless without worrying about what’s happening in the background.
SharePoint Content Management System Features
SharePoint CMS packs several useful and unique content management features. Here is a list of some of the features that set SharePoint CMS apart:
Content Organizer enables content authors to automatically route content to its location. The author sets custom routing rules in the Drop Off libraries to make this happen. The Content Organizer also screens and monitors submissions to avoid double submissions, content duplications, or any other errors on the end-user side.
This is a specially modified library where users can manage various media assets such as videos, images, and audio. Unlike a regular doc library, the Asset Library has more metadata features, allowing for quick browsing and searching.
Managed Metadata Service
Metadata is any information describing a piece of data, such as timestamps, author, file attributes, and origin. The Managed Metadata Service enables users to apply formal and informal metadata to content. Doing this from a central location drastically simplifies file search and recognition. It also helps to create contextual views or automate business processes by leveraging Power Apps.
Shared Content Types
This enables users to share content types across sites. The feature allows users to define different documents and columns into a template deployed against libraries and lists, which can then be shared across site collections. For example, you can standardize assets such as announcements, invoices and expenses using a defined metadata structure to ensure that key details are included such as name, department, etc.
Records management is traditionally handled in a record centre. But with SharePoint CMS, this can be done using a built-in library. Admins can declare any SharePoint document as a record and apply various protection rights to it. This feature comes in handy for organizations keen on record retention and protection.
Integration with Microsoft 365 Services
SharePoint seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft 365 apps and services such as Outlook, OneDrive, Teams and Stream. Users can modify email attachments, OneDrive files, and Teams documents and sync the updates with SharePoint content in real time.
Other Notable CMS Features:
- Document Management and Collaboration: SharePoint provides advanced document management features, including version control, document sets, co-authoring, and check-in/check-out functionalities. These features facilitate efficient document collaboration and control across teams.
- Rich Content Editing: SharePoint interfaces, such as the Modern Experience, offer rich content editing tools that allow users to create, edit, and format their content easily without needing extensive technical skills.
- Web Content Management (WCM): SharePoint’s WCM capabilities enable organizations to create, manage, and publish web content easily, making it suited for managing internal intranets, extranets, and public-facing websites.
- Search and Discovery: SharePoint has powerful search capabilities that make finding documents, data, and even people within an organization quick and efficient. It supports custom search configurations to meet specific organizational needs.
- Integration with Microsoft 365: SharePoint is tightly integrated with Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) suite, allowing for seamless use with applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams, enhancing productivity and collaboration.
- Permissions and Security: SharePoint gives administrators the ability to configure detailed permission levels, ensuring that sensitive information can be protected and only accessed by authorized users. Auditing, compliance, and record management features also support organizational governance.
- Mobile Access: SharePoint offers mobile applications and responsive web design, ensuring that content is accessible and manageable from anywhere, on any device.
- Customizability and Extensibility: SharePoint allows for extensive customization and has a rich framework for development, enabling organizations to tailor the platform according to their specific business processes and needs. This includes custom workflows, forms, and integration with other systems.
- Workflow and Automation: SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow), allowing users to automate tasks and workflows between SharePoint and other applications and services. This boosts efficiency by streamlining common business processes.
- Compliance: SharePoint supports compliance with legal and regulatory requirements through in-built records management, eDiscovery, and compliance features.
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How To Use SharePoint Online CMS?
SharePoint Online CMS manages content on a SharePoint site. This could be web, work, or blog content. So, to take advantage of SharePoint’s CMS software, you must be using SharePoint Online and its sites. A SharePoint Online license starts at CAD $6.8/user/month; this basic package is ideal for small and mid-sized enterprises. You’ll need the SharePoint Online Plan 2 or Microsoft 365 E3 licence to enjoy all of SharePoint’s features and capabilities.
Can You Use SharePoint to Create a Public-Facing Website?
No. You can’t use SharePoint at all to create or run an externally facing site. On March 9, 2015, Microsoft announced that SharePoint would no longer support external sites. Organizations that were already using the SharePoint Online Public Websites feature were given a minimum of two years to adjust to the change. Microsoft made this decision to better focus on service delivery across Microsoft 365. So, SharePoint can only be used to run intranet sites—those deployed within a corporate network.
Why Choose SharePoint for Your Enterprise Content Management System?
SharePoint Online CMS is unlike any other CMS software. Here are the reasons you should choose SharePoint enterprise CMS over other solutions:
- Costs less than other services offering similar capabilities
- Robust third-party integration support
- Enhanced security (including regulatory compliance and data security)
- Centralized administration
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Built-in multi-purpose functionality
- Optimized content delivery
- Flexibility in customization
- Integration with multiple file types
- Enhanced workplace collaboration and productivity
- Microsoft makes continuous improvements to SharePoint to the benefit of its clients.
SharePoint Enterprise Content Management simplifies information control and administration in an intranet. This enhances communication, collaboration, and workflow among teams and throughout an organization. Microsoft CMS is the way to go for streamlined content management, especially if you already use other Microsoft 365 solutions.
How does SharePoint integrate with other Microsoft products?
SharePoint offers seamless integration with a wide range of Microsoft products. This includes Microsoft 365 Suite applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, allowing users to create, edit, and collaborate on documents directly within SharePoint. Integration with Microsoft Teams enhances communication and collaboration, while OneDrive integration provides cloud storage solutions. SharePoint also integrates with Microsoft Power BI for advanced analytics and reporting capabilities. These integrations provide a cohesive and efficient work environment, simplifying workflows and improving productivity.
Can SharePoint be customized for specific industry needs?
Yes, SharePoint is highly customizable and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of various industries. It offers a flexible platform that can be adapted to suit unique business processes, compliance requirements, and workflow needs. Businesses can develop custom applications, modify site layouts, create unique workflows, and even integrate with industry-specific tools and applications. SharePoint’s customization capabilities make it suitable for a diverse range of industries, from healthcare and finance to education and government.
What are the data migration options for moving to SharePoint?
There are several options for migrating data to SharePoint, depending on the source of the data and the scale of the migration. For smaller migrations, manual uploading or using built-in tools like the SharePoint Migration Tool can be effective. For larger, more complex migrations, third-party tools like ShareGate or Metalogix offer advanced features for bulk migration, data mapping, and minimal downtime. Additionally, Microsoft offers Azure-based services for large-scale migrations, providing robust and secure solutions for transferring large volumes of data to SharePoint.
How does SharePoint ensure data security and compliance?
SharePoint takes data security and compliance very seriously. It offers robust security features like advanced permissions, rights management, and multi-factor authentication to protect sensitive information. For compliance, SharePoint provides tools like audit trails, eDiscovery, and retention policies that help organizations comply with legal and regulatory standards, including GDPR, HIPAA, and more. Regular updates and security patches from Microsoft ensure the platform remains secure against emerging threats.
What are the training resources available for new SharePoint users?
New SharePoint users have access to a variety of training resources to help them navigate and effectively use the platform. Microsoft offers official training materials, including tutorials, guides, and documentation on their website. There are also numerous online courses and webinars available, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Community forums and user groups provide practical advice and tips, and for more personalized training, businesses can engage with certified SharePoint consultants or trainers.