• Getting to the Right Destination with SharePoint Consulting & Customization
    For many organizations looking to tackle their data management once and for all, there seem to be only a few possible options. One of the solutions is a fully customized data server, but while this can be a great solution, it's reserved only for those who have immense amounts of money to burn -- both on development and consistent IT costs. On the other hand we have pre-constructed knowledge management systems that have such a rigid framework that the service only meets the least specific needs of the company.

    Enter SharePoint, pulling the best from both worlds. While you won't be confined into a small box of options, you will have greater affordability and stability. This is largely thanks to the great customization allowed within SharePoint itself.

    Do you have a specific feature you need implemented? A section of your business intelligence you need enhanced? A new filter you need? A command or process you need automated? Chances are, SharePoint can handle it. While this process will certainly cost, that cost will seem negligible when compared to having an entire platform built for your company.

    Further, you can always go for pre-built alternatives instead. If you search the web, you'll find that new web parts are being developed and released every day. Some of these are created by freeware and open source developers, meaning you can take advantage of the resource for no additional costs. Many others come with only a marginal fee and provide far greater levels of support and deeper product capabilities.

    Whichever route you decide to go, SharePoint Engine has you covered. We develop custom web parts for broad distribution, allowing you to rapidly get some of the most in-demand functionality your company needs. Further, we can customize web parts specifically to the requirements of your company, helping the already versatile SharePoint platform hug to the contours of your company's unique structure. Simply visit our web page (linked above) for more details.
  • The Realm of 21st Century Computing
    Cloud computing has launched in a very real way over the last several years, largely thanks to new cloud services such as online storage (such as DropBox), online productivity software (such as Google Docs or the Microsoft Suite), and more. However, when it comes to a content management system for businesses, the decision of whether or not to move to the cloud isn't easy.

    A move to the cloud certainly has its advantages in cost and accessibility, but it also has two downfalls. First, while security in the cloud has improved vastly over the last several years, this method of computing is still far less secure than running your own servers. For businesses, this includes the need to keep former employees from accessing and toying with the data from off-site. Second, and perhaps more importantly, moving to the cloud diminishes the level of control companies have over their own files. From organizational pitfalls to legal concerns, it's clear that the cloud has its concerns.

    The major alternative is setting up an Intranet and/or Extranet portal, but this process is complicated and —let's face it — costly. It is viable only for well-established companies and, while it's still versatile with enough investment, these in-house portals are less adaptable.

    Many companies are turning toward a "hybrid" solution, using some web-based and some internal server solutions; most "service" software is run through the cloud while anything involving sensitive data is kept in-house. Even government agencies are currently favoring this alternative.

    Whichever approach you choose, it's important that you have the ability to customize the solutions to fit your needs. As a leading SharePoint consultant, SharePoint Engine is able to provide you assistance both in-house and in-cloud. Visit our main site today, or contact us to get started.
  • Working Smarter Works
    During the industrial revolution, workers — including young children — would spend as many as eighteen hours working the factories in a given day.  If injured, they were either ignored (if they could still complete the job) or tossed out (if they couldn't).  Their job, after all, was little more than using that reptilian part of their brain; they pulled a lever and made sure there were no obvious problems.

    Modern workers are different.  As time has progressed, it's become less about how much you work, and far more about how much you get done — and what the chain of consequences thereafter is.  It's not enough to pull a lever and make sure nothing's on fire: our workers are expected to make smart decisions that benefit the company.

    While this idea has existed conceptually for a long time, it wasn't until the rise of modern technology that knowledge workers really hit their stride.  The ability to use computers to store and learn information, check facts, and get involved in complex systems using only software has made it possible for knowledge workers to accomplish a huge array of tasks from a single work station.

    The key, then, is supporting your knowledge workers.  There are three key ways you can do this:

    • Train them.  Knowledge is sometimes gained through personal initiative, but don't rely on it.  Provide training in your standard work schedule.
    • Provide systems.  There are plenty of data organization systems, and many have a variety of built-in communication tools that make knowledge work more efficient.  Use those systems!
    • Streamline data.  Rather than having your workers burn all their time sorting through data, provide effective reports — including, when possible, visually rich presentations.  This can be done best through business intelligence dashboards.
    If you're ready to take these three steps to the next level, or if you want any other SharePoint consulting, just visit the SharePoint Engine website to get started on your project today. 

  • Each year, as we enter the month of January and companies contemplate their quarterly objectives, analysts take a look at their respective fields and make some predictions for the upcoming months.  This year, one analyst — Joe Shepley of CMS Wire — has made an important prediction when it comes to enterprise content management.

    Specifically, Shepley says that 2011 will be the year that SharePoint 2010 becomes the core ECM resource on the market.  The reason is that SharePoint 2010 now overlaps more of the features of "traditional ECM," while also integrating features that are important in the present-day market, such as social site resources.  There are now very few resources in other ECM utilities that the current version of SharePoint doesn't cover, and most of those resources (e.g., those found in Oracle) can easily be viewed as complimentary services.

    Of course, the greater need for information organization is also a big part of why this new version is SharePoint is likely to become core in the upcoming months.  In addition to the fact that more organizations rely on their knowledge-workers, knowledge-workers themselves are showing a greater push for content management resources.

    Shepley reminds users that SharePoint 2010 doesn't work well as a standalone ECM right out of the box; rather, enterprise-class users need to invest in important customization and add-on features (plug-ins, web parts, customized infographs, etc.) to make the system work ideally at this large of a scale.  That's one of the reasons that SharePoint consulting is so crucial: it helps you figure out exactly what you need to add, integrate, or change, and companies like ours can also help you in actual customization as well.

    2011 should be the year that brings companies out of the dark ages, as various organizations update from legacy ECMs, decide that it's high time to implement their first CMS, or vie for SharePoint due to its broader collection of solutions.

  • Some companies have been struggling this year, but for many 2010 was a time of growth and rejuvenation after three years of a spine-shattering economy — whether your field is SharePoint consulting, accounting, or testing lab rats.  While we may not all be where we want to be, viability and magnifying profits are more accessible than ever before; thus, it's no surprise that many of the New Year's Resolutions being made have to do with increasing the success of your company.

    Of course, knowing that your pursuit is increased success is just one part of the process.  You will also need to have a clear road-map to get there!  This is an excellent time to sit down and ask one question: Where is my business flagging?  Where is it succeeding?  What needs to change?

    If your answer is "I really don't know," then what you need is to increase your level of feedback!  Assuming, however, that you do know basically what your company's strengths and weaknesses are, now is the time to develop a succinct and effective game-plan for how things will change over the course of 2011.

    As you outline your objectives, it's a good idea to create tasks and goals for sub-divisions of the year.  What do you want to have done on your goal by the end of the quarter?  How about the end of the month?  What about today?  By breaking down your tasks into clear, easy to track steps, you will be able to review the objectives on a reasonable basis, and ensure that New Year's 2012 will be a time for celebrating all your achieved goals.

    Do your objectives include any of the following?
    • Improving the quality of your employee's knowledge base.
    • Decreasing the time taken for knowledge-based tasked.
    • Assuring the greatest accuracy in knowledge-based tasks.
    • Improving your pipeline structure's overall effectiveness.
    • Increasing your business intelligence and reporting.
    If so, now might be a perfect time to get a free consultation from SharePoint Engine, your premier resource for SharePoint consulting and solutions.  Just head over to our main site to find out more, or drop us a line today by phone at (877) 368-7207 or by email at info@sharepointengine.com.
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