Five Reasons Why SharePoint Online is Great for Small and Medium-sized Business

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Recently over the last months I have been trying to persuade Small Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) to try out SharePoint Online, and upon using it they all loved it. It intrigues me that a solution that has been noted as an Enterprise Solution, became so popular in the SMB market. But Why?

In this post I’m going to try to give 5 different reasons why I think SMB is a Grow Market for SharePoint Online.

1. SMBs have structured data they need to store somehow and somewhere.

It doesn’t matter how SMBs are structuring their data now, they have a structure. The structure that they use is based upon the systems that they have running. If you take the physical folders, the storage room, etc, a well trained professional will find his or her documents in their own classification system. The problem is that everybody knows their way in their own little box, but not in the big world outside.

The way that they structure their documents is not different from how we do it in SharePoint Online, it’s just not digital. But they have folders, meta data, content types and even security. In some organization they tried to translate their physical structure to folders on a File Server, with varying degrees of success. They understand and realize that entering the digital world is necessary. But the system they chose to translate their structure upon has to be able to cope with the same requirements as their offline system and SharePoint Online is able to do that.

2. Small and Medium-sized Businesses have Line of Business Applications

SMBs have line of business applications, maybe not in the traditional way as we see them, but without a doubt they have them. It’s not because SMBs are small that they are under educated or not technologically advanced. On one of my recent visits to a small business, I saw a line of business application that took in an order and based on the different order lines it created kitchen doors from a raw piece of wood to a magnificent detailed kitchen door. The machine operators did every check digitally, every settings was recorded in a detailed follow-up system. At the end of the day the system knows exactly how many kitchen doors were made, how long it took, what it cost for the company. When I showed them SharePoint they were enthusiastic but they have one very important question, “Can it be integrated with what we are using today?” That’s another big advantage of SharePoint Online, because Yes it can. Integration possibilities are (almost) endless.

3. Digital Collaboration Efficiency is at the tips of their hands

Digital Collaboration is finally possible for SMB. They don’t have to mail every document to each other, they can use version control and they can simultaneous work on the document. SharePoint Online provides multiple tools to increase your business efficiency including ease of finding documents which takes care of the issue of reproducing documents. Easy communication through SharePoint makes sure that people know the company’s regulations, policies and guidelines. This helps decreases the number of accidents and increases the knowledge of Business Logic.

And these are just the basic features of a SharePoint Online. If you broaden our view to Office 365, we can introduce Lync, Yammer and Office 2013 as an additional collaboration source.

4. Inter-SMB Relationships

SharePoint Online (and Office 365) makes it easier to collaborate with suppliers and customers, which increases the ease of communication between businesses. This results in more business and more business results in growth. If multiple SMBs have that same growth, that will result in an increase of the economy. SharePoint Online makes it possible for these businesses to focus on the company and not  IT.

5. SharePoint Online is affordable

When we look at the resources an On Premises Environment needs to be active, it’s massive. This results in a high cost in hardware, software and licenses. At that point we’re not even operational yet. We still need to setup our SharePoint environment suited for the business that we want to support, which results in additional costs. Our setup has to be operational for the maximum number of accounts that we are going to support, again, more money. When you make the sum of all these costs, it’s just too expensive for some businesses. The licensing model of Office 365 and SharePoint Online, allows SMBs to just pay a fixed price per month for the number of users that are working on their SharePoint Online environment. If they are fortunate and grow in employees, then they can just purchase more user licenses against a fixed price per month. Do you need more storage, a fixed price per month per GB. So at the end, the price if very low for the use of an ENTERPRISE platform.

The bottom line is that Office 365 lets Small and Medium Businesses have access to an Enterprise Platform at SMB Pricing.

List, site, and personal permissions

List Permissions

Permission Full Control Design Contribute Read Limited Access
Manage Lists X X      
Override Check-Out X X      
Add Items X X X    
Edit Items X X X    
Delete Items X X X    
View Items X X X X  
Approve Items X X      
Open Items X X X X  
View Versions X X X X  
Delete Versions X X X    
Create Alerts X X X X  
View Application Pages X X X X X

Site Permissions

Permission Full Control Design Contribute Read Limited Access
Manage Permissions X        
View Usage Data X        
Create Subsites X        
Manage Web Site X        
Add and Customize Pages X X      
Apply Themes and Borders X X      
Apply Style Sheets X X      
Create Groups X        
Browse Directories X X X    
Use Self-Service Site Creation X X X X  
View Pages X X X X  
Enumerate Permissions X        
Browse User Information X X X X X
Manage Alerts X        
Use Remote Interfaces X X X X X
Use Client Integration Features X X X X X
Open X X X X X
Edit Personal User Information X X X    

Personal Permissions

Calculate field sharepoint with functions“calculated-column”-text-and-data

One of the more useful categories of functions available to use in Calculated Columns is that of the “Text and Data” set of formulas.

Through their use you can combine fields, compare data existing in other columns, apply formatting rules to entered data, and a variety of other actions to get the most out of the data that gets entered into lists and libraries.

The Microsoft Office site lists out the various functions we’ll be discussing – which I’d encourage each of you to bookmark as an invaluable tool for future reference (

The available functions in this category are as follows:

ASC – Converts “full-width” (double-wide) characters into their corresponding “half-wide” (single-byte) equivalents. Useful in language conversions where the typical set of “ASCII” characters are not enough to encompass the (possible) thousands of characters used in the language (also see “Double-Byte Character Sets in Windows“).  (Example: full-width text “ファズ・ギター” converts to half-width “ファズ・ギター” equivalent – notice the size and spacing of the characters?)

CHAR – Used in converting ANSI numerical values to their corresponding character values.

CODE – Similar to the “Code” function, but used in converting a character into its corresponding ANSI numerical value.

CLEAN – Strips out all non-printable characters from text.  Used to format text that may have originated from a separate program or data source that in its output includes low-level code (such as “” blocks) that can’t be printed.

CONCATENATE – Used to combine (join) sets of strings into a single string.  This action “pre-pends” or “appends” one or more (up to 30) strings together into a single string of text (similar to combining words to create a new word – the name “Cara” and vehicle “Van” becomes “Caravan”).

DOLLAR – Used to convert a number in to a currency format based on the “Currency” settings applied to your specific computer.

USDOLLAR – Same as the “Dollar” function, but is independent of the local “Currency” settings applied to your computer as it will always use the “U.S. Currency” format.

EXACT – Used to compare two strings to see if they are identical.  This function uses “case-sensitivity” to determine if the compared values are exactly the same and displays a simple “Yes” or “No” based on the comparison result.

FIND – Used to find a string within a string.  This formula will return the starting position of the string searched for, is case-sensitive, and cannot use wildcard characters in the search.

SEARCH – Similar to the “Find” function, but is case-insensitive and does allow wildcard searching to find specific individual characters or sets of characters.

FIXED – Rounds a number to a specified number of decimal places, formats it in a standard numerical conventions using a period (”.”) and optional comma (”,”) then returns the formatted result as text (string).

LEFT – Used to get the first character (or characters) in a text string based on the number of characters you specify in the formula.

RIGHT – Same as the “Left” function, but returns characters from the end of the string rather than from the beginning.

LEN – Simply put, returns the length of a string in a numerical value.

LOWER – Converts all uppercase letters in a string into lowercase (skipping any characters that are not letters).

UPPER – Same as the “Lower” function, but instead converts all letters to uppercase.

MID – Used to return a set of characters (as a string) from a string based on the start position of the string and the number of characters to want to fetch.

PROPER – Used to format a string into an upper/lowercase convention following the rules of “Capitalize the first letter and any other letter that follows a non-letter character, then convert to lowercase all other letters in the string”.

REPLACE – Used to replace a character (or characters) in a string with text you specify.

REPT – Used to repeat a character (or characters) a number of times (useful in adding a series of repeated characters to an existing string – see this comment for an example of usage).

T – Used to get the text of a given value and display it if (and only if) the value is text (will display nothing if the value is a number or Boolean result).

TEXT – Used to convert a given (numeric) value into text and have it formatted based on a specific number format (currency, decimal, date, etc.).

VALUE – Similar to the “Text” function, this function will take a string that represents a number and convert it to a number (currency, decimal, date, etc.).

TRIM – Used to format text into a proper “sentence” format that will strip out all spaces except for single spaces between words.