SharePoint Productivity: Apps Aren’t Just for Smart Phones

By Matthew Bretzius posted 08-07-2013 11:43


This is a guest post by Jeremy Thake, AvePoint Chief Architect and Microsoft SharePoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP).

(Note: This is part of our series “Collaborate with Confidence”. Previous posts: Ensuring Compliance: Information Types Your Organization Should Be Concerned About)

We’ve all used an app before at some point in time, whether it was to play a game, read through the news, or find a restaurant to go to. As smart phones and tablets continue their global takeover, there appears to be an app for every little thing that you’d need to get through your daily life. Now you can add apps that help you to do your job better to that list, as enterprise content management platforms like Microsoft SharePoint have become app friendly.

SharePoint apps work very much like a mobile app would. SharePoint is your base functionality (i.e. your cell phone or tablet), and the app is downloaded from the SharePoint App Store and integrated within SharePoint. Now you’ve got an easily added enhancement that will help to improve productivity, integrated tightly with SharePoint without the complexity of a third-party application.

What to look for

All SharePoint apps are automated, but the best ones are the ones that allow you to integrate the app with the existing business processes that you have within SharePoint. This increases your employees’ ability to be productive because the app ends up being an overlay of what you’ve already been doing in SharePoint. Remember the goal here is to help your employees to do their jobs better. Forcing them to learn an app that isn’t cooperating with SharePoint will only complicate things as they have to learn new processes, likely leading to more work.

Be selective

Don’t just download and install an app because you think it sounds great, or it’s something you’d like your organization to start to utilize. We see this with people and their cell phones/tablets all the time – downloading apps because they think it sounds cool, only to uninstall it minutes later because they realize they don’t need it or it wasn’t what they expected.

There are a ton of great SharePoint apps available that can provide positive results for any organization, including ones for SharePoint security and management, social, task and calendar synchronization, and meetings process enhancement. Identify where your organization could use a boost in productivity, do some research into what apps are available, and then select the one you believe is the right fit for your organizational needs.

I would recommend defining a review process with acceptance criteria for apps within your organization. It will pay to lock down the store to your business users so that they have to request approval of adding the SharePoint app to make sure it does go through the review process.

Microsoft wants you to do it

The push toward apps isn’t coming strictly from the vendors who are building them – this is a direct push from Microsoft itself. Microsoft’s vision is that organizations will employ a host of apps within their team site collaboration areas, essentially creating a mash-up of information that will enable employees to do their day to day work more productively.

Just like cell phone companies provide the device for you to personalize and build off of to fit your daily needs, Microsoft provides SharePoint as a base platform for users to customize to enable increased productivity and enhanced collaboration. The right combination of apps, integrated within your SharePoint, could provide your organization the push it needs to succeed in reaching its next level of business goals.

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