As of today I’ve been consulting on SharePoint for almost 8 years, and I get asked a lot of questions.  A lot of our clients already have SharePoint and we’re either engaging on rescue projects, migrations or break/fix type support.  But then there are some clients we speak with who don’t use SharePoint at all, and are potentially looking to evaluate SharePoint or other collaboration platforms.  It’s in those times I get reminded that not all folks already know what SharePoint is! 

What Is SharePoint for Non-SharePoint Users (Part 1)

A good example came from a recent engagement where I was  told this by our client:

“I just wanted to reiterate that many of our employees are still not clear about what SharePoint is or how it could possibly be used.”

My aim with this 3-part series is to help answer this question and give some context of how SharePoint can benefit organizations.  In this initial post I will set the stage and give you some back

Do I Really Care What SharePoint Is?

Of course you’re going to care, but I think it depends at the stage of your intranet or collaboration technology project.  When we meet with a client who isn’t already using SharePoint, we do our best to stay technology-agnostic

When we gather initial requirements, we document the goals of different departments, their critical businesses and what content is used in these business processes.  We also gather what rules and configurations are needed on these content artifacts, as well as other requirements.  The users shouldn’t care what technology is going to be used when they say what they need in the future or what problems they have with their current state. 

7 Deadly Sins of SharePoint - Tool-First Mentality

When we look at these requirements, it’s our job to take those business requirements and evaluate what technology can solve those problems, whether that’s with SharePoint or a combination of SharePoint and different tools.  If you start trying to solve the problems with only SharePoint in mind, you may not achieve the best or ideal solution. 

You should always let your need drive the solution

We talk about this in our 7 Deadly Sins of SharePoint presentations, this being the sin of having a “Tool-First Mentality”.  Also, going to a new version of the tool will not auto-magically solve all your problems either.  You will have the same problems as before, just a newer flasher wrapping. 

Having said that, if you have already invested in a platform like SharePoint and Office 365 and you know it will be kept in place, you should get to know what the platform can do.  That way when other requirements come up you will know if or how the platform could be used to solve the need.  But it’s also important that you are taking full advantage of the capabilities of the platform you are using.  For example, you have SharePoint and are using it to store some documents in folders, great.  You’re like everyone else using SharePoint.  But are you leveraging features like:

  • versioning
  • information management policies
  • expiration and retention/disposition
  • document approval and workflows
  • draft item security
  • auditing
  • document routing
  • content types, views or metadata

You get my point, and this also speaks to a potential training issue if you use SharePoint and either don’t know or haven’t heard of these features. 

If you don’t, worry not!  In part 2 we’ll dive head first into SharePoint and it’s capabilities (at a high level) so stay tuned, or subscribe to keep up to date when its posted!

If you want to get some more technical training or need help with your stalled SharePoint implementation, contact us!