Are you using your Sharepoint fully?

Are you using your Sharepoint platform fully?

No.. I guess. Thats why you are here reading this post. Don’t worry you are not alone. You are now a part of million strong family struggling with this question and that includes me also. I may not be able to answer your question but would try my best to give you some pointers for the way ahead.

In my last 5 years of experience with Sharepoint, I have seen customers coming back to me with the same expression and same question… “I think we are underutilizing our Sharepoint Environment. We know we can achieve more than that..but we don’t how to do it. Please help in creating a roadmap and provide us training of what Sharepoint is capable of?”

Well..before I answer that question, I would like you to tell me what you have been using Sharepoint for? Following are the most common Sharepoint groups you’ll find.

1. A department wide Intranet site for file sharing and collaboration and basic search

2. You have implemented it as Enterprise level Intranet and Knowledge Management system. Custom Home Page, limited Portal features, Knowledge Repository, collaboration tools (task management, project management ), My Site functionality

3. You have implemented Enterprise search, Outlook Integration, are using basic Reporting and Dashboards (KPIs and Report template), and Business forms using Infopath, Web 2.0 features like RSS, Blogs etc

Now if you can relate to user group 1, you can jump onto level 2 and 3 with some dedicated and organized efforts. One suggestion I always give to my customers is “Stick to what Sharepoint has given OOTB”. 80-20 rule is here to stay i.e. keep your custom development to a bare minimum. The more you explore you would find that you can do a lot with web parts like content query and Business data webparts.

If you belong to user group 3 category, you deserve kudos for atleast touching the most publicized features of MOSS ( darn!! I should start using Sharepoint again).  Having implemented it all, I am sorry to say that you have seen just the tip of the iceberg. Your implementation is still few miles away from what you can call an “Integrated workplace”. What else you can explore

  • RIA features – Give your implemetation a magic touch with Silverlight
  • Records Management
  • Extranet Implementation
  • Forms based Authentication
  • CRM Integration
  • Integration with other LOB systems
  • Groove Integration
  • Live Communicator for Chat
  • Dashboards and Reporting using SSAS and SSRS
  • SaAS – Sharepoint as a service 

Apart from technical front, there are many things on a ‘softer’ side that you can get a lion’s share in your plan

  • A better Governance Model
  • Revisit existing Information Architecture
  • Usability engineering
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
  • User Training

 One thing to remember is that ease of using Sharepoint is also its nemesis. So before you take any action do a lot of planning and Impact analysis.

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