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NFP TechFest: Key takeaways! SharePoint, Microsoft 365 security and Business analytics for NFPs.

Posted October 14, 2019
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This exclusive event for WA NFPs focused on how the effective use of technology can help your people become more empowered to achieve the outcomes that your organisation was created to accomplish.

By Rushad Billimoria, Information Systems Manager: Not-for-Profits and Aged Care

On Tuesday 08/10/19, we hosted the NFP TechFest: How to manage and use data for good.

We had a full house with many different organisations getting together to explore how to get the most out of their Office 365 subscription and how to use IT to achieve more.

The goal of the event was to present the main features within the Intranet and Document Management components of SharePoint by using real NFP examples in a demo, to deep dive into Microsoft 365 security and to cover business intelligence and data analytics by running a demo of Power BI and SSRS.

If you missed out or it was a lot to take in, it’s OK! We’ll dig into the main points covered today.

SHAREPOINT

SharePoint is not a single application that performs a primary function, like Outlook or Word. It is a powerful platform, providing many different and complex functions in a similar way that Google does. Some organisations use it for their website, for intranet, for their document management system, for their business knowledge base and so on.

At its heart, SharePoint is a website, or portal. It could be a single site with a homepage that links to different areas for documents, news or communications. It may be a site collection with several child sites underneath a parent site for separating the different areas of an organisation. In our experience, SharePoint works best when it reflects how your NFP works now or intends to work in their planned future.

NFP demo site presented at the event. 

What can I store in SharePoint?

SharePoint can store many different and complex types of information, such as office documents, images, audio, videos and links that are stored elsewhere on the web.

Another kind of information you can store in SharePoint is lists, so pieces of information that are not attached to a document file.

Different ways of storing information

Folders

Folders are a familiar and traditional way to group and organise documents and they can be replicated in SharePoint libraries.

For business users, this makes it easy to look down into the deeper levels and find what they are looking for. However, it can also present a challenge for people from other teams, or new starters. They may not know the common paths or understand the meaning of the folder names that they are searching, and Windows Explorer can be slow and not produce the expected result.

Metadata

A more powerful way to use SharePoint is through metadata. By taking your files out of folders, you can label each document with extra information (metadata) to classify them instead of only having folder and file names. This approach gives you a lot of flexibility in seeing your information, whereas folders is a set configuration.

Besides making documents easier to find, the real value of metadata comes from combining different data to improve the overall experience for users and making document search a more intuitive task.

 

Governance

SharePoint can help your business with governance and document compliance.

Permissions

SharePoint permissions can be set up so that the staff are able to view all public information, while any sensitive data can be organised and locked to specific groups of people. For example, you might want to provide access only to members of your team, or you might want to provide access to everyone, but restrict editing for some.

Version control

SharePoint will by default keep versions of your files. This allows you to track the history of a version knowing when a file has been changed and by whom; restore a previous version if you made a mistake or prefer what you had before; or simply view a previous version without overwriting your current version.

Automation

This is done in SharePoint through Microsoft Flow which automates workflows across different apps, such as automatically copy folders added to Dropbox to OneDrive, Save your Tweets with specific hashtags to a SharePoint list, approve a document with your manager and so on.

Co-authoring

In SharePoint, co-authoring enables multiple users to work on a document, at any time, without interfering with each other’s changes.

With co-authoring, you speed up that process, minimise room for errors and the risk of duplication.

Security

In the past, the firewall was the security perimeter. That’s because most of the data was kept in-house, or on premise. Nowadays, there’re fewer boundaries, much more data and more complexity.

Microsoft security pillars

Microsoft determines four main pillars for security:

  • Identity & access management
  • Threat protection
  • Information protection
  • Security management

What is Microsoft 365 Business

Microsoft 365 is the next step after Office 365 as it includes everything in Office 365 plus Microsoft’s productivity apps and advanced security – external threat protection and internal data leak prevention.

Data loss prevention

Workplaces are much more complex than a few years ago. BYOD and the use of many devices for work are now the norm. This means that people are constantly shifting from personal to corporate-owned information.

If your employees are bringing their own device and accessing many different types of information, how do you make sure that corporate data is protected? Microsoft tackles that issue by applying security measurements on an app level, not device or user. This means that your employee can have their own device and access personal information, however, your organisation still keeps control over apps and systems that are corporate.

Even if your employee loses the laptop, for example, the company can fully wipe an app remotely!

Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

Business Intelligence (or BI), sounds fancy, but in simple terms means just intelligence collected about your NFP which you gain from data, such as financial information, donor demographics, event participation, or staff information.

Data analytics is a catch-all term for a variety of different BI and even though it can include BI, it could also include other sources of contemporary or modern ways of analysing data due to new data types, and the ability to leverage new data volumes.

Unfortunately, data analytics is not widespread in the non-profit sector and the main factors preventing organisations from utilising data are:

  • Organisations aren’t collecting enough of it
  • Lack of tools to help analyse it
  • It isn’t kept in one place
  • Personnel don’t have enough experience using data
  • Not enough time, or personnel to focus on it

No matter your organisation’s mission, providing indispensable services to the underserved requires effective, efficient, responsive, and accountable organisations composed of people that make grounded decisions. Data analytics and BI are a strong tool your organisation should be using to achieve that.

The difference between dashboards and reports

Some of the main differences between dashboards and reports are:

  • Dashboards tend to be concise and summary-like. Reports are usually longer and more detailed, although they may have summary components.
  • Dashboards tend to focus on Key Performance Indicators. Reports tend to focus on underlying data.
  • Dashboards also allow users to manipulate and interact with data dynamically, whereas reports show a static picture of the existing data.

So how do you determine which one you need?

The first major area where each offers a different advantage is in scope.

Dashboards are best employed when they focus on specific aspects of an organisation, such as tracking customer satisfaction or number of incidents. Reports have the benefit of a broader scope, offering a better-detailed view of an organisation.

The second key difference in each is data timeliness. Reports tend to be broader and feature historic data. Dashboards, on the other hand, are built to visualise and organise data in real-time.

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft PowerBI is a great tool for creating rich personalised dashboards. There is a desktop version which is free, a professional version which has a monthly cost, and a premium version for large enterprise organisations.

Microsoft Power BI is used to find insights within an organization’s data. It can help connect disparate data sets, transform and clean the data into a data model and create charts or graphs to provide visuals of the data. It integrates seamlessly into existing applications such as SharePoint and is viewable on mobile devices. It is a simple, user-friendly tool which has been developed for a range of BI users, from novice to professionals.

Here’s an image of the demo Power BI dashboard we presented at the event which shows expiring certifications for staff based on date and location.

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a server-based report generating software system made by Microsoft and used as a solution for companies who need to build custom reports from a variety of data sources.

Here’s an image of our demo showing a report with the underlying data from the Power BI dashboard (mentioned above).

Wrapping up…

If you are on Office 365, you probably already have access to some of the features mentioned above. Everything covered in the event was only the foundation for future cloud opportunities, as we haven’t yet touched on, PowerApps, Dynamics 365 or even the many other features in the SharePoint space itself.

Remember, if you are an eligible NFP ( https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/nonprofits/eligibility ), you have access to heavily discounted  O365 pricing and certain Microsoft Cloud products, so make sure you make the most of your subscription!

If you would like a more personalised introduction to SharePoint, Security, Power BI or any of the Office 365 suite, here some of the areas we can help with:

  • Demos: Personalised demos & intro workshops related to your industry and business reality – Click here to read more
  • Small consultation sessions: Together, we’ll prepare a feasibility/business case to help you get started
  • Guided start – have your own expert: Bremmar can provide an on-site resource to assist and work with you between 1-4 days a month
  • Managed services support to apps: Full user support on the Office 365 stack and productivity apps like SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, etc.
  • User training: We can teach your staff on how to use newer technology to perform daily tasks and help with overall business adoption
  • The whole lot: From consultation to planning, implementation and support, we can help with your entire project requirements.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics above, please call us in for a chat on 1300 991 351 or fill in the form below and our consultants will get in touch with you!

Get an initial consultation with Bremmar!

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By Rushad Billimoria, Information Systems Manager: Not-for-Profits and Aged Care

As a Client Information Systems Manager, I’m the go-to person for Bremmar’s NFP and Aged Care customers.  I help charities, non-profit and Aged Care partners of all sizes transform their digital capabilities and modernise their workplaces, using a targeted and industry-specific approach.

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