Re: SharePoint Opinions

Subject: Re: SharePoint Opinions
From: Jenn Wilson <jenn -at- mylar -dot- outflux -dot- net>
To: Stephanie Erickson <serickson -at- infinitecampus -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 08:27:07 -0800 (PST)

On Tue, 24 Jan 2006, Stephanie Erickson wrote:

Do you use SharePoint in your collective businesses? What is your
opinion of it?

Hello, Stephanie --

I administer our intranet, which is a big ol' pile of Sharepointy goodness. We needed a reliable, central repository for a lot of materials; the "basic" Sharepoint came gratis with our copy of MS Exchange, and we'd used it before (when we were tied to another company who used it), so voila. I looked at open-source solutions like Mambo for a while, but to be honest, Sharepoint had better documentation, and therefore took less startup time.

Before I go further, I must note this: I have full admin privileges, which makes this responsibility a LOT easier to deal with. (It really stinks to have limited access in Sharepoint.) We're also a small company of about 30 people, accessing it from at least four geographic locations at any given point in time.

Overall, it's a very good fit for many of our needs, such as archiving and protecting proposals and specs, maintaining high-level calendars, stashing training materials we use for clients, keeping our HR info in one accessible place, and setting up lists of "hot support item" writeups. We also use MS Office tools a lot, so the integration factor is nice.

For a few months, during our last network migration, we were simply using a folder structure on a shared server, but there was no way to control the way people dumped stuff in there, so it degraded into chaos pretty quickly. Sharepoint helps us keep this stuff in order much more easily. I designed a logical site structure that (in theory) funnels things into the right places, as long as people are paying attention to what they're doing.

There are some needs it does not meet especially well. For example, I want to start shifting people away from depending so much on e-mail for critical info. ("You weren't supposed to push the big red blinking button! Now the server is going to explode into tiny little bits, and we'll have to ship it back to HP in a bucket! Didn't you read the e-mail I sent back in October?")

I'd like to set up a couple of Wiki repositories for client-specific support info and programming standards. We can emulate this on Sharepoint to some degree, but the navigation is a little clunky, which risks annoying the users enough to avoid using it. (My colleagues are an impatient lot.)

In terms of nitty-gritty, I've gotten the most mileage out of setting up various custom lists, team sites, and project sites for the gang. The best resource I've found is the O'Reilly book about Sharepoint; it drifts off into the land of "Things I Simply Do Not Care About" sometimes, but it's a good read for getting the hang of the structure. I also had the privilege of full access and plenty of time to play around with it. (This was very important, because Sharepoint's vocabulary wasn't intuitive for me at first.)

In sum -- we do like it, although the interaction methods (click, click, drop-down menu, click...) get annoying at times. Administering it took some experimentation and study. I don't know whether I'd go out and buy Sharepoint, and I'm sure there are better products out there, but for something that came free with another product, it's working out pretty well.



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SharePoint Opinions: From: Stephanie Erickson

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