You Still Really Need SharePoint

January 11, 2019

Looking Back on SharePoint Maven’s Assertion of the Platform's Long Term Relevance

 

In January of 2018, Microsoft MVP Greg “SharePoint Maven” Zelfond published an article in defense of SharePoint as a necessary resource for a successful business, providing seven key points about its long term importance. If you haven’t read the article, we highly recommend that you do. One year later, Microsoft continues to “flip the house”, adding new front ends and modern features on the SharePoint foundation that’s here to stay.

 

SharePoint is the Foundation of EVERYTHING

SharePoint is a powerhouse of functionality, but most organizations don’t know how to harness it. In response, Microsoft added new Office 365 facades and features that create simpler user experiences. Users gravitating toward these new experiences are often unaware that they’re all built on SharePoint.

 

Those who try to “get away with just an out of the box Office 365 Group” are still using SharePoint whether they know it or not (Zelfond’s 1st point). This is because SharePoint handles file management behind the scenes for Teams, Planner, and Office 365 Groups (Zelfond’s 2nd point).  As such, SharePoint knowledge is required to take full advantage of these tools.

 

Suppose you fully leverage the SharePoint libraries embedded within other tools. A full-fledged SharePoint site is still to be the best place for storing content of evergreen importance. Teams, Planner and Groups are great for things that are dispensable once a result, such as completing a project, is achieved (Zelfond’s 3rd point). But as a factory cannot operate without all components in place, your permanent, operational content is served best by a central repository.

 

If you want to flip a house, the house needs a solid foundation. If Microsoft is the real estate agent, SharePoint is the foundation of House Office 365. Apps like Teams and Planner are fresh coats of paint. For all the new front ends Microsoft built on SharePoint in hopes they can “change perceptions”, none of them work without it, which attests to the platform’s long-term importance.

 

Features and Functionality are Important

SharePoint’s most powerful asset is the way it uses metadata for managing information (Zelfond’s 4th point). By having information about your information, your organization’s employees will have a much easier time searching for, maintaining, and leveraging it. While no other tool in Office 365 can hold a candle to SharePoint’s metadata infrastructure, plenty of them benefit from it greatly.

 

Microsoft Flow is slowly but surely catching up to the ways classic SharePoint workflows can tap into content metadata. Once it does though, the vast external connectivity of Flow creates near endless possibilities for automated workflows. Likewise, Microsoft PowerApps does a great job of making SharePoint metadata entry forms portable, and will only become more powerful as it becomes compatible with more columns and list types (Zelfond’s 6th point).

 

Build Your House to Fit Your Means

As we’ve discussed in a previous post, the unfortunate consequence of Microsoft adding so many tools to Office 365 is confusion. The interfaces don’t always match, the terminology can get confusing, and their storage locations are inconsistent and disconnected. Naturally, it’s easy for employees to confuse where certain files are stored, or which app supports a specific task.

 

As the platform that many of these tools are built on, SharePoint is the perfect way to tie everything together (Zelfond’s 5th point). Even if they branch off into other tools when working on specific projects or procedures, if employees know where the home base for enterprise content is, they’ll spend less time searching for what they need. And unlike most of those tools, SharePoint is so highly customizable that, with the right “know how”, it can be sculpted into something that accommodates their needs and preferences.

 

Train Your Users

Training employees for daily SharePoint use is something we don’t see enough of in organizations. Too often companies implement SharePoint but fail to properly evaluate what employees need to know to take advantage of it (Zelfonds 7th point). Just as factory workers must learn how to run the machinery, office workers should learn how to use SharePoint.

 

i-Squared encourages organizations to provide basic end user training to all employees who will encounter SharePoint to any extent. It is also vital to produce documentation to support the SharePoint-driven automated processes that users will participate in. Properly trained users will make SharePoint work for them instead of trying to work around SharePoint.

 

We Can Help!

The SharePoint Maven’s defense of the platform last year made seven key points. We’ve referenced those points above, and naturally we agree that SharePoint isn’t going anywhere. If you can already tell SharePoint has something to offer your business, get in touch and we’ll work together to make it happen.

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