Whither Work in Progress?

By Dan Antoin posted 12-14-2010 09:49


SharePoint might always be an ECM destination, but I am finding that it isn’t always the means of travel. We are working on a significant ECM project right now; collecting, processing and storing engineering inspection reports. The question is, “where do we start creating documents?” Well, SharePoint might be the answer, but I’m afraid it’s not the best one.

SharePoint is a great place for work in progress when multiple people are contributing to that progress. When an individual is beginning a document, or a presentation, the value of SharePoint is questionable. Sometimes, like when there are a lot of reusable elements involved; templates, pictures, charts, etc. SharePoint adds the value of ‘proximity’ to the equation. Having everything close at hand is something I value and I have written about often. On the other hand, when an individual is beginning a document from a template, or, despite my best efforts to discourage the habit, from a previous document, SharePoint brings little to the table. In fact, SharePoint may be an impediment to the ECM process.

The reason SharePoint may be counterproductive, is that it is always remote. Despite the interminable hype about Cloud-based this and that, remote is not always better than local, especially when you are traveling. Yes, yes, remote solutions, SharePoint included are great when I need access from multiple machines, and once I need to involve others in the process, but until those needs surface, remote access is one more barrier to productivity. So, as we get ready to roll out this ECM solution, my advice about where to start writing the document is: “I don’t care.” Seriously, I have no need to control or monitor this process from the point of inception.

Not wanting to sound like Tevye, but on the other hand I feel a need to point out possible better solutions; after all, that is my job. I really like the way One Note works with SharePoint. If I start a new notebook on SharePoint, it stays up-to-date on the server, and I always have my most recent changes with me. Synchronization is an invisible, almost magical process, even when I am working with others on a common document. We are experimenting with SharePoint Workspace to see if we can get that kind of comfort level with Word, via Workspace, but I’m not convinced we are going to be successful. First, I’m not sure what the future holds for SharePoint Workspace and second, I’m not sure the process is simple enough to make it magical.

I would be interested in hearing success stories with SharePoint Workspace. If there are none, or if there are warnings I should heed, I would be interested in know those too. 

#workspace #SharePoint #proximity #ECM #sharepoint