Six years ago, I gave a presentation at AIIM Expo called “Robust Communication on a Modest Budget”. One of the 10 take away ideas in that presentation was to use SharePoint Services a.k.a WSS a.k.a. the free SharePoint, for document management and collaboration. A manager from Questex came up to me afterwards and suggested that I submit a presentation for the following year that was “all about SharePoint” – he predicted people would want to hear more on that subject. Today, I am working on another presentation for AIIM Expo, this time, I am speaking about collaboration, but no surprise, it’s collaboration using SharePoint. Rather than wait until the week before the Expo to mention this, I thought I would talk about the link between AIIM and SharePoint now, while you still have time to register to join us in Washington, D.C. in March.
I have heard many people speak about SharePoint, and I have heard more than a few speak about it in unflattering terms. Good or bad, there are a few common “dangerous” themes that often emerge. This is where AIIM can help; SharePoint needs to be controlled, needs to be built around Best Practices and needs to be managed toward a goal beyond “implementing the hot new thing”. If you don’t know how to do those things, you need AIIM.
Chaos – This word got me into trouble last year. I included it in the title of my presentation and Microsoft wanted me to change it because they thought it suggested that a SharePoint implementation could be chaotic. Well, that wasn’t my intent, but SharePoint can turn into just a fancier mess than your shared file folders, if you’re not careful. File shares are almost doomed to chaos, because of the limited ability to organize and control them. You can avoid chaos with SharePoint, but not if you simply move the crap you have on your K: drive into a document library. SharePoint has features that allow you to organize, manage and control content, but you have to know how to use those features. I don’t mean how to turn on the service, add the columns or configure the options – I mean you have to know how to use the features to enforce governance, support a Document Management strategy and meet user requirements. I learned how to do those things at AIIM; I have learned from the educational sessions at AIIM Expo and I have gone beyond that by attending two AIIM Education courses.
Sprawl – I have heard people talk about how SharePoint implementations grow like kudzu and end up looking like a weed infested garden. I have seen a few of these farms, and I have seen areas of our own implementation start to look like this. I also know that you can prune SharePoint back to what is vibrant, useful and necessary, and once again, I learned this through AIIM. In addition to educational sessions and classes, I attend AIIM New England (my local chapter) meetings. Through the chapter, I have been able to meet people who understand the practices behind the technology, the people who have been doing this stuff before there was a SharePoint, and they have shared their experience with me. The techniques and best practices for Document Management aren’t indigenous to SharePoint; they predate almost all computer-based technology. When you consider that AIIM began as an association about Microfilm, you can appreciate the wealth of knowledge stored in this organization.
Do you want to make your SharePoint implementation better? Do you want to save a few thousand dollars on consultants? Do you want to have the answers to the “why?” questions your users ask? Go to AIIM! Go to AIIM Expo, join your local chapter, visit the website, join this community – take advantage of this awesome opportunity to learn from the people who literally wrote the book(s) on this stuff. SharePoint is only the vehicle, AIIM is the guidance system. I hope to see you in Washington, D.C.