Friday, August 05, 2011

#SharePoint - An Enterprise Solution for What?

Elena Galitskaya posted a question on LinkedIn about SharePoint:

Are you considering SharePoint for your enterprise? For what purpose? And what's your definition of enterprise anyway?

I thought I would post my response here as well as on LinkedIn.

Here are my thoughts:

I think you will find that many organizations use SharePoint as a de facto Departmental level document management platform.  The challenge there is to move people away from the practice of saving document versions with the date embedded in the file name. 

I have deployed a number of cross department solutions where SharePoint lists form a simple "just in time" workflow solution. One of the most powerful and accessible features is to use SharePoint Custom Lists to maintain status data and get people to throw away Spreadsheets that get copied around and amended. I have seen solutions that do this save countless hours of meetings because there is a "single source of truth" which everyone is working from. While the meetings may not go away the content discussed at the meeting is significantly elevated. Instead of spending time on confirming the status of work items the meeting participants spend time on solving the issues that may be preventing work from flowing.

Having said all that organizations that are on SharePoint 2007 (or earlier) face significant challenges to implement departmental workflows. Some examples:

- Has your IT organization implemented all of the features of SharePoint? e.g. Email in to a list might be disabled. Since email is often the lifeblood of an organization this can be a frustrating roadblock to setting up efficient workflows.

- An inconsistent object model. Too often you come across a situation where you want to use a field for a particular purpose but the data is either in the wrong format or the underlying object type can't be used for the function you have in mind. For example you may want the user information to display a picture but in other instances want it to be an email address that people can click to send an email. 

Fortunately there are resources, like that can help provide work arounds to solve many of the day to day 
challenges of working with SharePoint.

See the comment stream here on LinkedIn.

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