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Microsoft SharePoint: 7 Ways To Achieve More

SharePoint is used by most of the Fortune 500 -- so why do we still hate it so much? Here's how to make Microsoft's intranet platform work better for you.

4. If you're a current SharePoint 2010 user, SharePoint 2013 offers major enhancements.
SharePoint Server 2010 is the most commonly deployed version of the product; as of last summer, Forrester said almost 80 percent of SharePoint users were running Server 2010. But SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online combined for 31 percent of users at the time, so Microsoft is doing a decent job moving customers to its newest platforms, even if some deployments aren't yet company-wide. More than 65 percent said they planned to use SharePoint Server 2013 in the next 12 months, and another 28 percent said they plan to use SharePoint Online.

What is Microsoft offering to move customers along? SharePoint 2013 steps fully into the cloud, which will be a big factor for some companies (see below). But it offers a variety of enhancements. They include: improved people-finding, activity-tracking and search capabilities; push notifications, HTML 5 support and other additions aimed at mobile users; support for third-party design software, SEO tags that don't require coding, and other tweaks to make SharePoint sites easier for non-developers; and the introduction of an app marketplace, which could help companies mitigate pains with custom code as they get their SharePoint systems up and running.

5. How you use SharePoint depends on your attitude toward the cloud. Using SharePoint in the cloud could lower infrastructure costs and improve agility, but for many businesses, the cloud can't match the security of on-premises, bare-metal servers. This attitude is still in flux, with many businesses finding a happy medium in hybrid clouds.

SharePoint customers who are ready and willing to embrace cloud technologies will find that Microsoft's newest versions are more in keeping with their goals. That said, Forrester found that nearly three in 10 SharePoint customers do not consider cloud deployments an option -- another reminder that the product is not a "one size fits all" solution that all customers can use in similar ways.

6. You might need to round out SharePoint with third-party solutions. Although SharePoint contains a variety of built-in tools, some are difficult to use or not complete enough to meet all needs. For these, a variety of third-party add-ons have developed over the years, with SharePoint 2013's app marketplace opening the concept to new possibilities.

If one company acquires another, the purchasing party might need to integrate content from the purchased company's SharePoint and Active Directory data into its own systems. Rather than handling this manually, the company could employ a third-party abstraction layer via a product such as Radiant Logic's RadiantOne, which is advertised as a way to bring disparate data sources under a common naming structure, and thus to simplify organization and authentication.

Forrester survey data indicates that products from Nintex, NewsGator Technologies, AvePoint, Bamboo Solutions, Dell/Quest, and K2 are among the most commonly used third-party options for SharePoint.

7. Don't forget about alternatives.
Widely used as SharePoint is, it's not the only way to build corporate intranets, give employees access to documents, or foster collaboration. Many companies used competing projects, if not in place of SharePoint then as a complement.

In fact, Forrester's data indicates that only about half of SharePoint users are using SharePoint exclusively. DropBox is the SharePoint competitor to which businesses most often turn. Others such as Jive, Google Drive Box, and IBM Connections have also gained fans.

IT leaders must know the trade-offs they face to get NoSQL's scalability, flexibility and cost savings. Also in the When NoSQL Makes Sense issue of InformationWeek: Oregon's experience building an Obamacare exchange. (Free registration required.)

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Susan Fogarty
Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 1:26:47 PM
Suffering with SharePoint
Your point about SharePoint needing customization is the key. I have worked with SharePoint in several of my jobs and in none of those cases has the IT department made the effort to make the platform a useful tool. I think you really need a speacilaist or someone experienced to get the most out of it, especialy the new version which apparently has lot of great features. Unfortunately every time I have used SP, it ended up as a huge, unmanageable document dump.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/16/2013 | 2:22:29 PM
Sharepoint is what you make of it
It's a contradiction, but Microsoft is the king of having products that a lot of people use but don't particularly like. Sharepoint is a leading example. Sharepoint may suffer from complexity but it was never designed to be a plug-and-play product. If IT and business groups sit down and map out what they need to use Sharepoint for -- and don't worry about using every feature -- then Sharepoint can be very useful. Having Yammer integrated for social is a big plus. Increased adoption of Yammer via Sharepoint seems inevitable.
IW Pick
User Rank: Ninja
11/16/2013 | 5:07:32 PM
Use it to it's capabilities
You have to use sharepoint for what it is capable of doing. For instance, it's not a document management system so don't use it as one. It's good for sharing info within a company. I'm not saying its the greatest but it does the job if you know the limitations of it.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/17/2013 | 5:15:50 PM
The # 1 MAM and User Experience Upgrade is missing from this article
As one of the first 5 developers in SharePoint (powered the Xbox website when SharePoint 2002 was called "microsoft for internet business"), my comment is simple:  You can save a lot of pain, dramatically increase user adoption, by adding our User Experience layer and self-service Mam functionality into any SharePoint deployment.  Visualize all the files, extract the metadata on ingestion, view all the files (over 450 filetypes and counting) from any browser or device, add html5 video support for a "Business EQTube Experience" for all your users.  Do this in a couple of days quickstart and easy deploy, then "Instant-On" the capabilities in any library.  To be clear, this is not a simple plug-in like many of the mentioned "utilities" in this article.  This is enterprise class infrastructure upgrade to SharePoint that has been adopted by hundreds of SharePoint enterprises to supply millions of dollars per year in productivity gains and approvals acceleration...This will save IT and Marketing departments massive amounts of time and money, while making your users smile. Consider us for a scalablle enterprise adoption and business accelerator and make your users and management very happy. SC Johnson, Monsanto, World Vision, Bentley, L'Oreal and hundreds of other companies are enjoying the benefits of MediaRich ECM for SharePoint. Watch the intro video here:
User Rank: Apprentice
11/18/2013 | 3:19:19 PM
SharePoint Functionality
New to SharePoint I find it pretty easy to maneuver if you have some time to sit around and work with the different features.  We are provided a lot of learning tools to reference if you do run into an issue with SharePoint.  I am excited to hear that SharePoint 2013 has good enhancements!
IW Pick
User Rank: Ninja
11/19/2013 | 8:11:18 AM
The catch 22
SharePoint really is a diverse platform and that's why I think it gets such hate at times.  It can be as simple as an intranet site used for company announcements and simple informational messages or it can be a beast of burden and house everything from calendars to providing an interface to Access databases.  I've seen it used extremely well and I've seen it used not so well.  In most cases it falls somewhere in the middle where it's done just well enough not to drive a company to scrap it but it's not done well enough that people look to it as their first pick solution.   2013 bringing a better mobile experience will help this but services like Dropbox are going to be hard to unseat as document stores but if you're only looking for a document store then you probably shouldn't be looking at SharePoint in the first place.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/9/2014 | 7:59:41 PM
Build SharePoint intranets for power business users
I work for a third-party SharePoint Business Application Template company that has helped hundreds of clients get SharePoint to work for them. We are the only company offering an entire SharePoint Business Suite that runs on premise or in the cloud through SharePoint Online. We focus on small to medium sized businesses that need help increasing the effectiveness and user adoption of their SharePoint solutions.

In response to the article, I agree with all of the points but I must emphasize number 6. Many of the businesses that adopt SharePoint, for whatever reason, cannot afford to have a consultant or full time person to build and manage their implementation. There are many reliable and affordable options for third-party help with SharePoint. My company, SP Marketplace (, is receiving more and more demand for our product every day. Our templates are fully customizable and designed to greatly increase user adoption and effectiveness, therefore improving ROI. 

Check us out at our website or search for us on youtube if you would like more information.
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