Introduction of SharePoint into large enterprise environments usually undergo rigorous evaluation processes before finally being approved. Such deployment plans have better chances of being carefully scrutinized and eventually finished successfully. On the other hand, because SharePoint price is deceptively low as an enterprise product, many small businesses has the tendency to use it without being fully aware of its associated costs. Without knowing the require operating costs and real potential benefits of such an enterprise product, the SharePoint deployment is likely to be half-baked and leads to many user frustrations, or even waste of tens of thousand dollars. A easy rule of thumb for a small businesses to gauge whether to introduce SharePoint, is to think of it as a product that needs one time investment in six figures that leads to annual savings in the range of millions. If a business is only willing to invest in the range of five figures for its SharePoint initial investment, then it is likely the ROI will be zero, and therefore the SharePoint implementation plan is better postponed for now.
Start from business needs, not buzz wordsIf a company uses Microsoft Office, then SharePoint family of products can help its bottom-line. Many small businesses decide to introduce SharePoint simply because their CEO heard from other C level executives talking about the SharePoint being a great product. It is true that SharePoint does improve efficiency, reduced double-entry and makes many clerical processes paperless. It is dangerous and risky for business leaders to introduce SharePoint environment simply because hearing someone else using it without truly understanding why SharePoint is a really good product. For companies that have already invested in other technologies to handle office automation, it may or may not be wise to tear down the existing infrastructure to adopt SharePoint environment. When a environment is suitable for SharePoint deployment, then great, go ahead and build a best-practice SharePoint infrastructure. For other environment with existing office document management systems, there are other alternatives. SharePoint has a component names BCS (Business Connectivity Service) which allows organizations easing into SharePoint environment having a co-existence period with legacy system for a while, until time is right to gradually add more weight to the SharePoint systems and rely on it more and more.
Plan to staff right for the ROISince SharePoint is not a typical sense of software like Microsoft Word, it requires specialized professional administrators to keep it healthy and operational. For large SharePoint deployments, multiple administrators are needed preferably with backup administrators for each set of large site collections. Besides administrators, more importantly, SharePoint requires trainers to help other staff members understand how to use it, at least initially. It is true that good software products should be intuitive enough for novice users to use without requiring too much instructions, but a minimum amount of training will always be needed to lead beginners into the right frame of mind. Once users are taught how to use SharePoint, the power of SharePoint is unleashed, and users can explore advanced features on their own. One of the greatest resources that provides many SharePoint how-to materials is YouTube. Tech savvy users can usually find step-by-step instructions on how to create their personalized cozy SharePoint/Office environment to improve productivity exponentially, once they are able to learn from those YouTube videos.
Focus on functionality, not the lookIt is ironic that many businesses look at SharePoint primarily as a tool to build better looking websites. While SharePoint is a good platform for hosting contemporary web sites, within Microsoft internally, SharePoint development team is part of the Microsoft Office division because its real power and potential are in the financial return enabled by office automation. The strength of SharePoint is in the empowerment of departments like: Finance, HR, Accounting, Project Management, Communication, to reduce errors, eliminate delays, simplify complex manual tasks, keep good record keeping, and relieve stress in general.
It’s with all the productivity boost acquired by SharePoint, that will enable staff and management to have more free time to socialize with twitter, facebook like features on the intranet, and SharePoint 2010 start to support those communication features too.