SharePoint is a wonderful collaborative tool. SharePoint sites are easy to update, edit, fix, amend, append, design and spend money on, but that doesn’t mean you should. Here’s a guide to deciding if SharePoint is right for you, and what to do about it, if it is.
SharePoint solves a lot of problems for a lot of companies. Most of these problems focus around knowledge management issues. This includes document management, business process management, contact management, calendaring, collaboration, and much more. In fact, SharePoint solves so many problems that some companies use it as their exclusive platform.
Other organizations solve these issues with existing ERP, Customer Relationship Management, and industry specific packages. Microsoft Exchange has a lot of functionality duplicated by SharePoint too. The question facing a SharePoint development team is, ‘’Where are my current systems breaking down or needing improvement?’’ where’s the pain? What hurts? If nothing hurts, don’t build a SharePoint site. Like all good advice, this is obvious, but many companies treat SharePoint like a new toy, and the user adoption ends up being terrible.
SharePoint is great. Why so?
The reason SharePoint can be a much better fit for some companies than other solutions is that the scope of the software is so wide. SharePoint addresses many diverse problems and it does all of it modestly well. Its breadth of capabilities is its power. It is best used as the central place for communication within a company, with vendors, and sometimes with clients. This, of course, means sharing documents, but it can also include information from other databases, programs, or user input.
For example, let’s say your team needs the new employee handbook to be approved. SharePoint can handle the collaboration around the new manual with wiki boards, bulletin boards, discussion threads, e-mails, announcements, calendared events, organized meetings, etc. Once the internal HR department finishes collaborating on the manual, it gets sent to a VP for approval. (SharePoint can handle this too.) She signs off on it through SharePoint workflow, and publishes it to the company. Now, every employee needs to read and accept the new handbook. SharePoint looks through a database of employees and sends task items to each person. As they sign off, a spreadsheet is formed saying who signed off and when. HR downloads the spreadsheet and sends it to the same VP for approval. In this case, information came from users, workflows, documents, databases, and created actionable reports and records that meet compliance and governance goals. The process required more than any ECM, ERP, CRM software can provide. SharePoint was a great fit to solve this problem.
SharePoint, now what?
The company has decided that SharePoint is the way of the future. You need a plan.
The number one reason SharePoint projects fail (and they can fail) is that the site doesn’t accomplish anything essential for the company. Using the site isn’t any easier than using the tools already in place. It doesn’t solve any problems. Of course, the best way to encourage user adoption is to have users play a large role in developing the site. User input is absolutely key, but don’t believe everything you hear. Users have a tendency to focus on trees for the forest – they want to solve small problems and are unaware of the program’s massive capabilities. They can also feel strongly about specific functionality that ends up being less important in the long run.
Start with department heads and work your way down. Ask general questions like, ‘’What’s frustrating about your job?’’ ‘’ What clerical work or redundant work are you doing?’’ What are the department quarterly goals?’’ Don’t bring up the intranet until late in the discussion. Talking about a specific tool will narrow the vision and can make end users skeptical.
Make Microsoft work for your business by providing SharePoint as the best solution. If it does address your problems better than any other combination of programs, be sure to install it with circumspection. Involve every end user you can, and keep focussed on making their lives easier. Anything less can be more trouble than SharePoint is worth. If you are interested to adopt SharePoint in your organisation, contact our sales team. We provide professional SharePoint Consulting and Training services.