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Is Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Right For SMBs?

A local Boy Scout chapter found that Microsoft's workflow software, while most often used by large enterprises, was the most efficient way to roll out its collaborative website.

Microsoft Office 2010 In Pictures
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Slideshow: Microsoft Office 2010 In Pictures

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are downloading, trying, and adopting Microsoft's SharePoint technology, the core bits of which are included as part of Microsoft Windows Small Business Server. But is SharePoint really designed for SMBs?

A spokesman from Microsoft admitted that SharePoint adoption is higher among larger organizations than for SMBs. "Today, we're probably skewed toward the enterprise," says Richard Riley, group product manager on Microsoft's SharePoint team.

We've previously taken a close look at the collaboration features of Office 2010 and the workflow features of SharePoint 2010. In this article, we'll examine how one group of Boy Scouts became one of the first to roll out a SharePoint 2010 deployment. Then, we'll look at some the factors that might guide your own decision.

Scout's Honor, Online

The Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America serves 56,000 young people and 15,000 volunteer leaders with a paid staff of about 80 people. And they do it all with a dedicated IT department of one. The organization's website, which enables scouting leaders in 15 regions to coordinate activities and update their own blogs, runs on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

The Greater St. Louis Area Council evaluated several solutions, including open source tools and custom applications designed expressly for non-profit organizations. "We realize that in the blink of an eye we could set up 15 WordPress blogs for our districts," says Joe Mueller, director of public relations for the Council. "But when you look at everything from an information management standpoint, SharePoint just made sense."

The new website enables a cultural shift in the organization toward collaborative content development. "We'll be granting permission to volunteers to begin writing blog posts," says Mueller. "That's a huge change in our culture here. We have been a top-down organization from a communication standpoint, and now we're opening the gates."

But this wouldn't have been feasible without administrative controls within SharePoint enabling only authorized participants to have access to troop activities and scouts' personal details, along with workflow controls that ensure that blog posts across the site meet the standards of the broader organization.

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