Ah SharePoint, that ever elusive, all inclusive solution that many find interesting, some are using but few completely understand. When I hear people talk about SharePoint, especially in my classes, it is either with curiosity due to their organization contemplating use or concern because it is being implemented without planning. When I hear solution providers talk about it, many times it is like listening to the guy in an old fashioned medicine show promoting how it cures all things in an enterprise. “Gather around friends while I tell you about SharePoint. This product is guaranteed not to bind, bend bust, or break. It is known the world over from coast to coast. Oh it may wiggle and it may shake but it is guaranteed never to bind, bend, bust or break. You have my word on it.” Sound familiar?
SharePoint does have a lot of features and is well suited to meet many departmental needs but planning is still a vital element for success. Recent research shows that, with no surprise, collaboration is the most popular reason for SharePoint use. This is followed by document management and file-share replacement. Over a third of those using SharePoint indicate this is their first significant use of an ECM solution while a quarter say they will continue to use existing ECM and ERM solutions for document and records management. In addition, a quarter of organizations indicate IT as the driving force behind SharePoint with little to no input from anyone dealing with information management practices while a third also cite that there is no plan in place as to where or where not to use SharePoint, reinforcing my point above that planning is a vital element in establishing a SharePoint environment lest we create better structured digital landfills still contained within departmental silos.
In my view, there is a place for SharePoint but there has to be a focus on how it is to be used, where it is to be used and where it is not to be used. Are you looking to enhance your existing ECM environment by leveraging and incorporating the capabilities of SharePoint or do you think SharePoint will replace what you have, if anything at all. Is it the place of IT to dictate the best approach to your Information Management practices and solely decide the tool selection or should the business be dictating what is needed from a practice standpoint and IT there to support it? If you are usure how to approach this, seek professional advice and training.
The decision to choose and use this magical, mystical solution called SharePoint should be a team effort that concludes with SharePoint use in support of meeting compliance and business requirements not simply because we have it or it seems an easy way out. SharePoint can be the right solution for many departments and organizations provided every consideration is given to your current and anticipated future needs. It is also not a be-all end all solution that provides a miracle cure. Plan, prepare, implement and assess the needs of the organization and how using SharePoint will be of benefit or not. Identify and understand how the business operates now and how it will function after SharePoint. Only then will it become clearer to you just what exactly SharePoint is in relation to your organization.
What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? What is on your mind? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.
Email: Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor - AIIM
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