SharePoint might not always be internal communicators’ first choice for an intranet. Quite often, the decision is taken out of your hands and IT teams tell you that’s what you have to use. You might be feeling a bit hesitant, but fear not. SharePoint might seem limiting, but there are ways to make the most out of it. With a bit of creativity and the right tools, SharePoint can be an effective and engaging tool for your internal communications.
1. Let Go of What You Think You Know
Letting go of what you think you know can be a challenging but necessary step towards making the most out of SharePoint.
Despite its reputation amongst internal communicators, SharePoint has evolved significantly in recent years, with Microsoft making a concerted effort to address the pain points that internal communicators have traditionally faced with the platform.
It’s important to approach SharePoint with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Rather than focusing on the platform’s limitations or past experiences with it, internal communicators should take the time to explore its features and functionality to discover new and exciting possibilities.
By doing so, you may find that SharePoint has more to offer than you previously thought and that it can be a powerful tool for driving employee engagement and collaboration.
2. Think Outside the Box
Once you’ve let go of your preconceptions, you can start thinking outside the box. If you think big, and think beyond what SharePoint can traditionally offer, you can achieve more.
SharePoint was designed for many purposes, not just as an intranet, so it can feel a bit generic. However, with a few extra tools and add-ons, you can give it a bit of personality.
Think of it like a pizza.
SharePoint is the base, but there are many toppings you can add to give it flavour. And whether you’re team pepperoni or team pineapple, there’ll be something extra you can add to your out-of-the-box SharePoint to fit every organisation’s taste.
And it’s important, too.
18% of intranets fail due to lack of personalisation – in other words, they didn’t have enough toppings.
of intranets fail due to lack of personalisation
If you’ve ever thought “I wish SharePoint could do this…”, chances are there’s probably an add-on (or pizza topping) that does exactly that.
Beacon is a tool that sits on top of SharePoint and enables internal communicators to create effortlessly engaging intranets. It gives you better design capabilities, including adding your company branding like fonts, logos and colours, to help you create a space that works like SharePoint but feels like you. The best part is that internal comms teams don’t need IT to use it, giving you back control over your brand.
Ripple, on the other hand, is a tool that enables internal comms teams to plan, publish, and measure internal campaigns within SharePoint. Like Beacon, it’s designed with internal comms pros in mind – no IT teams necessary.
If you’re already using other Microsoft tools like Teams and OneDrive, you’ll already be paying for SharePoint as well. Using some of these tools to improve the SharePoint experience can be a cost effective alternative to paying for a separate intranet-in-a-box solution.
Plus, it’s a great way to turn SharePoint into a more personalised and effective intranet.
3. Embrace What’s New
Now, let’s talk about embracing what’s new. Microsoft has been listening to the needs of internal communicators, and this is evident in many of the new capabilities, including Microsoft Viva.
Microsoft Viva helps bring your Microsoft 365 apps closer together. This means your SharePoint intranet doesn’t have to be an island in your Microsoft workspace.
Through Viva Connections, your intranet can be surfaced in well established apps like Teams. Making your intranet accessible and available through other Microsoft touchpoints gives it greater visibility, particularly for those who spend the majority of their working day in Teams.
This can be a gamechanger for frontline workers, non-desk based employees, and others who rely on mobile to stay connected to the business.
Viva Amplify, a new app coming later this year, is specifically aimed at internal communicators. Although details are sparse, Microsoft promises it’ll help plug some of the gaps felt by internal comms teams.
If you’re not a techie, diving headfirst into some of these new things can seem daunting. But, they have been designed to make your lives as internal communicators easier and better. So don’t be afraid to try new things and see how they can improve your intranet. Stepping outside your comfort zone could be worth it.
Got more questions on Microsoft Viva?
Catch up on the Work Happy podcast, where Alex and Martin help to answer some of those questions.
4. Take Back Ownership
Finally, let’s talk about taking back ownership.
SharePoint isn’t going to work for an intranet if it’s only owned by IT. IT teams can help get the technical set up in place, but when it comes to design, content and that magic ingredient that sparks employee engagement, it should be in the hands of internal communicators.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a tech genius to make that happen.
Working with a SharePoint partner can be a good middle ground. Finding a partner who understands the technology and the people can be a great way to set up an intranet that meet technical and employee requirements and can act as a mediator between both teams. A partner can also help take away some of the technical load from internal comms teams, so you can focus on what you do best without being intimidated by the tech.
If you’re looking for a people-focused SharePoint partner, there’s a company called Silicon Reef that’s pretty great (ahem!). We have a wealth of experience helping internal comms teams make the most of SharePoint to create engaging intranets that really work for employees.
SharePoint might not have been your first choice for an intranet, but with a bit of creativity, a willingness to try new things, and some help from the experts, you can turn it into something that really works for your employees. Happy SharePoint-ing!