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11/1/2010
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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
(click image to view slideshow)
Slideshow: Microsoft Office 2010 In Pictures

The selection of SharePoint 2010 also offers broader capabilities than just enterprise content management, which provides ample support for phase two projects. "The other part of the project is to do online reservations, and having SharePoint as our platform will facilitate that," says Mueller. "When a scout is in a church basement with his troop leaders planning a campout, and they want to use our equipment to go rock climbing, they can use their mobile phones to go onto our website to make a reservation, possibly pay with a credit card, and boom, they're done."

To build the site, the Council had requested proposals from three St. Louis-area firms. They ultimately selected Quilogy, which earlier this year was acquired by Aspect, a Chelmsford, Mass.-based Microsoft partner and solutions provider specializing in unified communications and collaboration.

By relying on an outside organization to develop and install its website, the Greater St. Louis Area Council was able to create the web presence it needed without having to keep IT staffers on the payroll. "The development team at Aspect came in, they learned our business, they helped us to see our website through our customers' eyes, and helped show us how SharePoint would be better able to organize and present our information," says Mueller. "We have been extremely impressed."

The decision to move ahead with the latest version of the technology enabled the Council to skip an upgrade. "We were one of the first organizations in the country to get our hands on SharePoint 2010," notes Mueller. "By doing that, we were able to have significant cost savings by not having to go through development in SharePoint 2007 and then having to upgrade to SharePoint 2010 later."

Despite the cost of SharePoint relative to using open-source platforms, Mueller stands by his organization's choice. "I have never regretted making that decision with the team here," says Mueller. "SharePoint has shown us a tremendous amount of flexibility."

The SharePoint Decision

SMBs have two ways forward with SharePoint: hosted and in-house.

If you're only going to use SharePoint for a company intranet without establishing an external-focusing website, one easy approach is through Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS ). The standard version of BPOS includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online, and costs $10 per user per month. By itself, SharePoint Online costs $5.25 per user per month, and allows SMBs to create internal portals, collaboration sites, and content management workflows, all indexed and searchable.

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