By Gail Seymour
Microsoft's SharePoint services are designed to make information sharing and collaboration across teams easier. They offer a range of free templates that can be used as-is or customized for your needs. Some of these are aimed at specific industries or larger organizations, but others, like our top 10 templates, are ideal for a small business just getting started with SharePoint.
1 Team Work Site
A great place to start if you're unfamiliar with SharePoint services, the Team Work Site allows teams to track and manage tasks; schedule calendar events and meetings, and share important documents. It can be used to co-ordinate a project, or to keep in touch and up to date on an ongoing basis.
2 Project Tracking Workspace
The Project Tracking Workspace is more project focused than the team Work Site, and adds the functionality to raise and discuss issues related to the project, plus to tracks task status and reports. It can also be used on a long term basis as a team repository, though, and is ideal for smaller teams sharing information.
3 Contacts Management
Once you're accustomed to sharing information, the natural progression is to the Contacts Management template, that allows all team members to share customer and supplier contact details. Each person can enter the details they have into Microsoft Outlook 2007, keeping the process familiar, but instead of each having their own address book, the details are shared through a central database. When contact details are updated by one user, other team members can opt to receive the new information.
4 Sales Lead Pipeline
In a small team where everyone has to be able to cover everyone else's workload in the event of absence, keeping all team members up to date about every important conversation can get tricky. Use the Sales Lead Pipeline to record exchanges with customers and clients, and allow everyone to see who said what, when and to whom.
5 Integrated Marketing Campaign Tracking
You don't need to have a large dedicated marketing department to make use of the Integrated Marketing Campaign Tracking template. Enter the details of your marketing activities and campaigns, and use this template to track the responses generated and sales conversions. The template even includes calculations and formulas to make analysis and comparison of the success of different campaigns easy.
6 Business Performance Reporting
Learn where you can improve your business from your customers' point of view. The Business Performance Reporting template opens lines of communication with those outside your business and allows you to gather important market research data without having to pay for expensive specialists.
7 Competitive Analysis Site
Keep an eye on industry news and stay up to date with your competition with the Competitive Analysis Site template. It allows you to create a console where you can track news and competitor Web sites, connect to Microsoft Office documents and analyze the information all in one place.
8 Call Center
You don't need an army of call center staff to make use of the Call Center template, either. Use it to log and track customer service requests, then track performance metrics like average resolution time to identify areas for improvement, and selling points.
9 Help Desk
Alternatively, use the Help Desk template to log service requests and communications through to resolution.
10 Disputed Invoice Management
Even if you don't have a whole accounts department, it's worth using the Disputed Invoice Management template to track outstanding invoices, record the reasons for non payment and work towards resolution with your customers.
About the Author
Gail Seymour has been a Web site designer for more than ten years. During that time she has won three design awards, and has provided the content and copy for dozens of Web sites and more than 50,000 Web pages.