Merchants decided to give SharePoint another shot, only this time they applied it exclusively to an upcoming project. They started looking for an agency that could create a portal to keep the entire process on track. An employee introduced the bank’s officers to Aerie Consulting, and the two companies quickly formed a partnership. Merchants soon discovered not only the advantages of SharePoint itself, but also how the interface can improve the way employees communicate with one another.
Merchants established a team of 50 people to work on the project. Each needed the ability to share information quickly, especially with the management team. “Previously, all that data came by way of an email attachment,” Fritz said. “Managers would be digging through their inboxes before meetings, looking for the most current versions of the documents.”
Aerie created an internal network that would provide easy access to information. More importantly, they helped Merchants discover new ways to communicate with one another. Until then, people had been used to filling out spreadsheets and attaching them to emails. “You may gain a little bit by uploading those same spreadsheets to a SharePoint document library,” Fritz said, “but to truly leverage the power of SharePoint you need to think a little differently. Aerie was great about helping our users wrap their heads around this.”
From the beginning of the SharePoint integration, Merchants was impressed by the client-centered approach Aerie Consulting had built their reputation on. “They really took the time to understand the organization and address our challenges,” Fritz said. “Without a clear understanding of the inner workings of SharePoint, users sometimes found it hard to articulate what they needed from the new system, but Aerie’s team interpreted the feedback correctly and applied it.”
The SharePoint intranet site they created kept everyone informed about various aspects of the project, as well as keeping key documents and reports at the fingertips of the managers. “SharePoint helps us keep the whole staff up to speed,” Fritz said. “It also allows managers to keep contracts, meeting minutes, and project status reports in one location. They meet on a regular basis and pull the info up. It’s so much better than weeding through 60 different emails, looking for information.”
Once the platform had been set up, Aerie went to work on teaching the staff how to use it, a critical piece that got missed in the bank’s first experience with SharePoint. According to Fritz, the staff learned how SharePoint can help them present information better than ever before, using tools like lists instead of spreadsheets. “We are starting to think about the customization of information and how that information can be tailored specifically to the audience. Communicating goes beyond the data — communicating effectively depends on how you present that data.”
Sue Fritz thinks SharePoint will continue to play a role in the bank’s strategy long after the migration project is finished. - “This demo project has shown us SharePoint can be used elsewhere throughout the organization. I can see us using SharePoint for new projects down the road, and we know that Aerie will be there to show us how.”