Making it Work In-house

In the previous two posts, I wrote about why we aren’t interested in Cloud-based storage for SharePoint/ECM and why we have not yet been impressed with SaaS solutions. One of the marketing points of both those offerings is that small companies can’t afford to take care of the myriad requirements of properly operating something as sophisticated as SharePoint for ECM and collaboration. Obviously, we disagree. So, how do we do it? Simple; good people, good attitude and good people, and when necessary, good people. Seriously, I am talking about four things, read on.

The first group of good people is our in-house staff. I am not going to brag, but I will say we are serious about understanding the technology we use. We know what SharePoint can do, and if you read this blog, you know we understand our business. The key to SharePoint success is aligning capabilities with business requirements. We design solutions that work and we only let capable people build those solutions – no sprawl, no deserted sites, and no quick and dirty answers. While this approach speaks to our attitude, it does not define it. Unlike the “IT Folks” getting bashed at AIIM Expo, we are not trying to be “Mordac, the Preventer of Technology” from Dilbert. we are committed to delivering the software and services our company needs.

Of course, good people with a good attitude can only do so much. When we reach the limits of our knowledge, our time, or our experience, we call ADNET Technologies. ADNET is a consulting firm, but we consider them an extension of our staff; what we can’t do, they can. We have been working with these guys forever. We were their first customer, and they have supported us through DOS, OS/2, Windows, Exchange, OCS, everything else Microsoft and more. In fact, one of the few cloud-based services we use, electronic backup, is a service they provide. We don’t use it because we do business with them; we use it because it is a great model, and they customized the service to meet our requirements. The really cool thing about ADNET is the way they work with us. For instance, one of my staff members wanted to be more hands-on with SharePoint; he wanted to build-out our test server. They are fine with that, but if something happened to it, they would still support it.

Wait, what about those other people? Well, there are several; we augment the capabilities our staff and ADNET with other vendors and specialists as necessary. I wrote about one of these a few weeks ago. TotallyObjects is helping us develop an interface to SharePoint’s web services, from our development environment. We also use a myriad of services from AT&T. So, why am I willing to partner with outside vendors but reluctant to recommend partners in the cloud? Simple, our partners are real, local people! These aren’t vendors chosen at random, they were carefully selected and they have worked hard to establish mutually beneficial relationships with our company. We work with ADNET, but I call Bill, or Chris, or Tim. We are small, and we are a small client of theirs, but we never feel that way. I don’t suffer the lack of leverage with them that I do with cloud-based vendors. I don’t suffer that with AT&T either, because I have an Account Representative who treats us like we have 10,000 lines.

Cloud-based services brag about scalability and flexibility, but my experience is that they define those terms before talking to their customers. The people we work with talk to us, learn about our business, understand our business requirements and then begin defining terms. You may have noticed a consistent theme as you read this – requirements. Understanding, and satisfying business requirements is the key to success, not only with SharePoint, but whenever you are providing business services. That’s why we have chosen to avoid the cloud-based solutions; quite simply, we have better options available locally.