SharePoint in Context

clip_image002My first instinct this week was to say that there is no SharePoint Story. That’s because I was away from the office and had no opportunity to hear any stories that were worth sharing (which is always limited by the stories I can actually share). One of the things that kept me away from SharePoint was the AIIM Board meeting in London. I joined the Board of Directors of AIIM in January, and this was the third meeting I attended. The other thing that kept me away was a couple of meetings with a developer that we work with, that revolved around a recent systems development effort that sits outside of SharePoint. Ironically, the context of both of those meetings brought me back to SharePoint.

The AIIM Board meeting was interesting in that the Board is made up of people who represent the major ECM vendors and several supportive ECM users (I’m one of them). It’s not often that you find yourself in a room full of people who are passionate about content. Passionate about content. I thought that was worth repeating because that is the underpinning of SharePoint within our organization. We aren’t using SharePoint for storage. We aren’t using SharePoint for collaboration. We aren’t using SharePoint as a gangplank to the cloud, and we certainly aren’t using SharePoint for social media features. We use SharePoint to satisfy the business requirements of people within our company who are passionate about (their) content. Storage, collaboration and communication all happen in and around that content, but none are driving the process forward. We may end up moving some of this content to the cloud, but that’s not driving the process forward either. I hope Microsoft is listening, because I am conscious of the fact that they seem to be veering off the track that we are on. That’s OK, as long as they are trying to pull ahead of us and be waiting for us when we need all those other things. If they forget why we are on the rails to begin with, well I have that room full of other vendors.

The other meeting that I had was partially concerned with some possible changes to a newly developed system. I was talking to the developer, but I had met with the users before leaving for this meeting. I made everybody aware of a guiding concept (the developer was in immediate agreement). We build systems for one or more of three reasons:

The resulting system will do something that we need to have done and that we cannot do without the system

The resulting system will improve a business process by saving significant time

The resulting system will improve a business process by making it significantly easier to perform

If we aren’t chasing one of those goals, there is isn’t any point to building a system. That’s important to SharePoint too because the solutions we are building in SharePoint today are “systems” and should be measured the same way. SharePoint is a mature platform; we can’t make any more progress based on the promise of “the next big thing.” It’s time that SharePoint solutions are measured against those time-honored standards.

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