Friday, June 21, 2013

SharePoint - best all-rounder for the employee workplace

This posting is a translation from earlier Dutch publication on The Next Thought blog.
In this era in which our (work)life is more and more influenced by the capability to access the enterprise knowledge and functionalities, optimum support in the execution of our work is of essential importance. We need to focus on the aspects that really matter and not be bothered with the administrative burdens that the business proccesses and IT can bring. We all know it. Handling the daily and the ad hoc tasks often takes too much time. Our work productivity is killed by the diversity in how to access the various sources of information, and by the diversity in how to perform and complete our tasks.
This is a challenge that was promised to be resolved by portal technology. One shell around your processes and applications, that improves the access and uniformity in all its facets. For a decade we hear that portal technology makes this possible, but the reality appears more stubborn.
Granted, it is also a difficult problem to solve. On the one hand, once ultimately a portal technology is choosen, the organization must conform to the utilization of that technology and how it is deployed onto the employees. And that [governance] is no small thing.

Sufficient functionality?

Another issue is whether the selected portal technology is rich enough to support the various aspects of the integrated employee workplace: information sharing, locate information and people, work collaboration, process, task management, integration with other systems, information dashboards, and more. A multitude of functional requirements, supplemented with the Enterprise Architecture requirement that it is simply to align all the different systems already included in the enterprise architecture.
In the last decade SharePoint has established a prominent position in the market of portal technology. Gartner consistently grades SharePoint as [the] leader in the field of Horizontal Portals.
And rightly so. The integration of SharePoint with Microsoft Office products, plus the broad functionality and integration capabilities that SharePoint provides, makes it a very good all-rounder. A platform that provides virtually every need of the information worker.
As of release 2010, the SharePoint platform complemented by the ecosystem, includes adequate support for all recurring aspects for the integrated employee workplace. The key word here is 'sufficient': SharePoint provides certainly not for every single aspect the most advanced and complete solution, but for most scenarios the platform offers sufficient support.
An example is the field of Business Process Management: SharePoint workflow is not a world-class BPM suite, when we compare it with SAP or Tibco BPM; it does not intend that to be. But through SharePoint workflow, possibly supplemented with Nintex Workflow or K2, it is possible to achieve a "lightweight BPM" solution. For the average desired application often a much more cost-effective solution, that can immediately be deployed from the available SharePoint platform within [a] company.
The same applies to the 'social' components of SharePoint. The platform itself out-of-the-box delivers the minimal expected 'social' support: microblogging / status updates, follow, like, tagging etc. Whenever the 'social' needs of an organization go beyond these, then there are additional products in the SharePoint ecosystem (eg NewsGator) to go a step further on ‘social’ front.
And that applies to all SharePoint features: document handling, archiving, BI dashboards, enterprise search, collaboration: the product itself includes direct deployable enterprise functionality. And as a portal platform it is functionally expandable through standard products available on the market.

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