Lately, I have been intrigued by some YouTube videos showing how people have architected solutions for small living spaces. One was a 200 square foot loft with a whole wall that could convert into every living area needed. It included a bed, dresser, closet, bathroom (with sink and shower), dining room, living room complete with a bookcase and the tiny kitchen was on the opposite wall with a pint-sized refrigerator under the counter. I could really appreciate the design and thinking that went into making a small space functional with precision.
Small businesses have to work with constraints much like the architect did for the Loft and require tools that provide multi-use, reduce costs and accuracy. One small business owner client of mine, actually started out believing they didn’t need something like SharePoint. They knew that 78% of the Fortune 500 companies use the tool and when companies that size use it, it must be over-kill for a small company like his.

The opposite is true in the case of SharePoint. Microsoft designed it to be flexible, scalable and price to fit any size organization. Add to SharePoint’s functionality, that it is available as a part of the Office365 Suite at a monthly fee of $12.50 per user (up to 300 users) and you have a powerful solution. The monthly fee includes Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, OneNote, Office for Tablets, Office for Smartphones, On-line version of Office, File Storage and Sharing, Business Class Email, Calendar and Contacts, AND SharePoint! A small business can use the same tools as the Fortune 500 companies without the expense of infrastructure and a large IT team.

SharePoint can give a company power by streamlining processes, automating workflow, reporting and statistics – all of which brings visibility and is accessible from anywhere there are internet services available (yes, even from the beach).

The end of my client’s story: After a year of being on Office365 and using SharePoint, I asked my client if he was ready to give up his SharePoint solution. “Absolutely NOT!” he responded. He shared with me the successes and gains the company achieved – Sales Reps now have access to the correct information and marketing materials – ALL THE TIME. They can take orders online using the form we created which saves time and once it is submitted from the field, it can immediately be reviewed and a quote or statement of work returned to the customer within 24-hours. “Because of the quick response time, we have signed up more clients”, he claimed.

He was able to take his small, three person office to the next level and is able to compete with his bigger competitors. Being small has an advantage of being nimble and applying automation tools allows him to compete. All-in-all, it is a great outcome.

The Loft and SharePoint both were created by design to deliver results.

About Your Columnist

Linda Amaro is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers topics, tips and tricks surrounding The Virtual Office and using Microsoft SharePoint to improve collaboration. Linda Amaro, has been in the Information Technology (IT) industry for over 30 years and has risen to the position of CIO in the corporate arena managing multiple departments with over 150 staff members and projects for tier one customers ranging from $2.5 million to $20 million. In 2010, she started Klarinet Solutions, a SharePoint consulting firm that provides SharePoint Design, Site Branding, Workflow Automation, On-Line Forms Development, Document Management, Custom Development and Business Intelligence.

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