posted 22 Jul 2008 in Volume 11 Issue 10
Last word: SharePoint 2007 - Off the shelf and stand-alone?
By Doug Miles
There’s little doubt, judging from attendance and activity at this year’s AIIM Roadshow, that the arrival of Microsoft’s SharePoint 2007 has created a huge surge of interest in managing content – both as records and for project collaboration.
In addition to the Microsoft keynote, the SharePoint Solutions Theatre was full throughout the day as vendors presented their product integrations with SharePoint, as the capture engine, the archive store, the workflow engine or the portal connection.
SharePoint is a very broad platform and there is a genuine need for information among the potential users as to what it can and cannot do and what it might, or might not, offer in specific areas or vertical applications. Over 45 per cent of respondents to the post-event visitor survey cited SharePoint as their main reason for coming to the show; a further 31 per cent saying it was one of the main reasons. In terms of planned usage, 14 per cent have already rolled it out, and a further 32 per cent plan to do so over the next 18 months.
Now, all this interest puts AIIM in a difficult situation. The arrival of Microsoft into any software area inevitably creates a threat to the existing market leaders. We are an independent association for suppliers and users of ECM, and have been loyally supported over many years by the pioneers of document management.
For many of these suppliers, SharePoint provides an opportunity to add value by integration, but there are others who are potentially threatened. They may feel that AIIM shouldn’t be highlighting SharePoint over the other ECM solutions – many of which have a wealth of functionality and user experience, particularly within more demanding vertical areas.
On the other hand, Microsoft’s arrival has certainly created a new interest in the whole field of content and information management, particularly among the IT community, as well as the more traditional records managers.
The AIIM remit is to encourage the adoption and best practice of information management. Many of the potential new users attracted to SharePoint because of its integration within the Microsoft environment are unfamiliar with such disciplines as classification schemes and lifecycle management.
Despite its user-friendly appearance, SharePoint is not something that can be expected to work out-of-the-box, particularly in an enterprise environment. In addition, SharePoint is sold through Microsoft’s indirect channel, which can't yet be expected to have the years of experience and expertise of many of the longer-served suppliers, so there is an even greater need for impartial support and training.
Many potential SharePoint users are attracted by its pricing, particularly if it is bundled with a planned upgrade to Office 2007. This provides the potential to roll out the so-called ‘Basic Content Services’ to every seat in the organisation. For many smaller organisations, this brings comprehensive information management within reach for the first time.
One thing to beware of, however, is that the ratio of software licence costs to professional-services costs for a complete ECM implementation project can be much higher than the traditional 50 per cent, due to the reduced cost of the bundled software licences. One of the newer drivers that SharePoint plays to is improved collaboration across projects. The ability to set up document-sharing mini-websites, with controlled access both within the organisation and external to it, can produce genuine productivity improvements, as well as reduced travel and fewer errors due to better version control of shared documents.
Once these collaboration tools are seen to be available, there is a strong chance they will be adopted in an ad hoc manner – particularly by the IT department. This can pose a problem for records managers who will then struggle to enforce some control in order to bring the project documentation – and particularly the e-mail correspondence – into the overall corporate classification scheme.
The extension of collaboration using additional blogging and wiki tools adds a whole
As a result of this integration of information management within the whole IT infrastructure, there is a new generation of IT managers that needs help and training to ensure they can make appropriate sourcing decisions and achieve successful implementations. ?
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