SharePoint: That's Just an Intranet, Right?

For those that can remember it, there was a UK beer advert in the 1970s with the closing line:

“There are those that know. There are those that don’t know. And those that don’t know they don’t know.”

As a Microsoft SharePoint specialist who hears, “Isn’t SharePoint just an intranet, with some document storage features?” on a daily basis, this line has significant meaning for me.

Although I can get frustrated with the lack of understanding of what SharePoint is capable of, I can also understand why it is so often the case. It’s not often clear what SharePoint is, what it can do for your business, or where you should even start.

What frustrates me more is the distinct lack of ambition with a lot of SharePoint`projects, even before they get off the ground.

However, if in doubt, aim high. If you really get to the bottom of what will help your business and what things you want to improve, then you can get a lot more out of an application like this.

Sure, SharePoint does provide the functionality you would expect to allow you to share information with your colleagues, a la intranet. But the benefits it can bring to an organisation (regardless of sector and size) are so much more than ‘Betty’s had a Baby’ style company announcements.

I have been fortunate to have been involved with SharePoint since 2001 (when it was first launched). It has evolved significantly over the years, and it has been a long and sometimes frustrating journey. But I can confidently say we now know where we are going, how we are going to get there and what to expect when we arrive.

The challenge now is to get everyone on board the bus – or is it a boat? Or a plane? Or the Starship Enterprise!?

And that’s part of the problem. SharePoint is so versatile that one implementation can seem to be a millions miles away from another. Yet they all share (excuse the pun) one thing in common – and that’s enabling people to work within and across teams more effectively and efficiently; capturing, storing, analysing and acting on information, data and documents.

Whatever is on your ‘if only we had something to…….’ business wishlist, the chances are that SharePoint – or rather a skilled and experienced SharePoint professional – could help.

As a wise man once said, “It’s a cracking piece of kit which in the right hands can be that Golden Nugget which delivers real efficiencies and ROI to the organisation”.

So what do you want to improve? It could be getting rid of inefficient paper-based processes; avoiding rekeying or duplicating information, managing your ISO processes; stopping all that whinging about the nightmare of claiming expenses (and the time it wastes!), providing controlled access to project documents; version control; an information bank; idiot-proof workflow; and all sorts of much more complicated things than I could ever explain in a blog!

The real beauty of SharePoint (in the eyes of this beholder) is that all of this can be achieved with not a single line of compiled code.

So what? You may ask.

Two key reasons – compatibility and future upgrades.

No complicated coding means no more cobbling together bits of stand-alone software that really weren’t designed to integrate with…well anything really.

And what happens when that clever chap who knocked a bit of code together to solve a problem gets knocked down by a bus or, perhaps more likely, jumps ship for the promise of greener grass.

Both are risky strategies for any business.

SharePoint now comes as part of an Office 365 subscription so it works seamlessly with everything else in the Microsoft universe – and of course, everyone and his dog boasts about their software working with and offering the familiar look and feel of Office.

So, SharePoint absolutely can be used to communicate Betty’s recent addition to the family (by the way a baby boy coming in at a healthy 7lbs 2 oz)

But it could do so much more…