Begin With Outcome In Mind – 4 Key Capabilities. Met with SharePoint Dude recently. He explained four primary uses of SharePoint that bear repeating. This week we’ll focus on those four uses and how they support process improvement. CLICK HERE to join our weekly SharePoint® Process Improvement Forum. (Fridays, Noon to 1 pm, Central time, no cost.)
If you are not familiar with “business process / problem thinking”, see Key Processes Where We Have Used SharePoint Effectively and Process Inventory for Services Industry Master for a place to start.
1. Document Management: Also called “store and retrieve”. A good example is real estate contracts. Easily scanned, along with any supporting documents and organized into folders. The documents do not change – great use of SharePoint. Other examples include specifications from customers for work to be done, HR documents, policy and procedure documents, resumes, historical data on customers, etc. One key issue is understanding how you want to search the documents – SharePoint can be great or a real pain. The other key is that the documents change rarely if at all. Note that SharePoint is a great solution unless you are, say a title insurance company or a law firm, which might have 100,000+ of these documents to manage. If you have this type of volume, there are specialized software packages that are better.
2. Collaboration / File Sharing: Abe Lincoln would use the term “file sharing” instead of “collaboration.” Nobody knows exactly what collaboration means, and he hated ambiguity. When we move from simple “store and retrieve” to multiple people working with the same file, we are in the center of what SharePoint does well. I remember one Excel spreadsheet - everyone had to email their updates to one person, who spent half a day cutting and pasting. With SharePoint, we got it down to minutes because 75 people were able to update the same spreadsheet without overwriting or conflicting with each other. Other great uses are when multiple people need to contribute are contracts or the creation of sales presentations. SharePoint is great at keeping versions of documents so it is easy to recover from mistakes and keep audit trails.
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3. Intranet / Extranet / Portal (Access to Existing Systems through SharePoint): I dislike these buzzwords. Simply put, an intranet is a web site giving internal employees access to data they need. An extranet gives external parties (like customers and suppliers) access to data they need. SharePoint does both of these things quire well – very helpful for process improvement. The term portal is just annoying because it means nothing. The next major function is providing access to the data in existing systems through SharePoint (called “interfaces”.) We are now in the major leagues. Lot’s of rhetoric, some good stuff, lot’s of reasons to be careful and get the right help – but it can be done. Just be sure to count the cost first.
4. Process Improvement / Workflow: Workflow is seen in the process maps in my case studies (below). Process improvement is the difference between “before” and “after”. It all begins with the business problem, and the business process that solves that problem. I have seen a dozen clients reduce costs or increase sales by 30%+ through process improvement. Generally, it involves all four of the key capabilities, so I urge you to master them all. This is the outcome we want to have in mind when we start with SharePoint.
CLICK HERE for full case study. $7.5 million in labor savings over three years.