• SharePoint is a framework, a structure, that you must flesh out yourself. While we can do a lot for you as consultants and production workers, it's still important that you make the most out of SharePoint at every possible turn. Here are six simple ways (listed in no particular order) that you can improve your use of SharePoint for rapidly visible results.

    1) Organize your events in SharePoint. Include details, assigned tasks, related documents, group posts, and social functionality with the event itself. Integrate with the calendar. Let SharePoint serve as your hub for any major company happenings.

    2) Track productivity through SharePoint. If you track tasks and projects within SharePoint, you can create reports on who does what in the company. This will let you compare productivity between individuals and departments, and quickly pin-point individual strengths and opportunities for improvement.

    3) Let no person be an island. Have your team members set up social profiles on SharePoint that let the group know about their areas of expertise and that share commonly requested information in a public forum.

    4) Use a centralized SharePoint site for your email. This makes organization, reporting, and security much easier.

    5) Start a private company blog to share the latest updates. You can save yourself time during meetings and ensure that everyone has access to current data and plans by centralizing that data.

    6) Publish all of your training materials. You can help staff members stay up to date by giving them quick access to a web document instead of a physical hand-out. Additionally, by referring to a live document that you can update, you're saving yourself from the "outdated version" headache while saving some trees.

    These are just six quick tips to getting more out of SharePoint, but there are hundreds of additional possibilities. If you're ready to truly make the most out of your company's content management, contact SharePoint Engine today.
  • There's no doubt that the SharePoint platform has evolved over time. From its highly technical and extraordinarily challenging early versions to the often seamless and intuitive SharePoint 2010, we've seen a great leap forward. Still, some companies have decided not to upgrade to SharePoint 2010 due to the migration process. A recent study showed, however, that adoption of the latest version is up and that more companies are considering use of cloud-based versions.

    The study was conducted by Forrester and looked at 500 IT leaders. Among this more technically advanced cut of the field, 57% had adopted the most recent version of SharePoint (2010), despite the fairly new release of that product. Across all versions, 79% stated they were very satisfied with the service and 73% said the product meets the expectation of management. 75% reported that the IT staff were satisfied with the platform.

    The most valuable tools for the companies surveyed were the collaboration tools and team sites / intranets, which saw a 78% and 73% satisfaction rating, respectively. The majority of respondents also indicated that they began using SharePoint with the "workloads" features, then moved into more advanced features over time.

    Beyond an increased adoption rate for each subsequent version of SharePoint and an impressive 14-month migration rate for SharePoint 2010, the survey examined the question of alternate and upcoming versions. The big question was whether or not a cloud-based version of SharePoint was in the cards.

    The majority of companies have considered using SharePoint in a cloud-based medium, with only 17% stating that they never considered using a cloud-based version. The remainder either have or are now considering the use of either SharePoint Online or the cloud-based version of SharePoint that accompanies the Microsoft Office 365 suite. However, only 19% of all respondents indicated that they are currently using a cloud-based version.

    According to the study, SharePoint 2010 adoption should continue in full force while cloud-based versions will see increased growth in the years to come.
  • SharePoint has seen a broader adoption over the last few years, almost to the point that SharePoint systems are the expected enterprise platform. However, SharePoint management costs have remained about the same – $45 to $46 per user – over the last three years. The reason, according to the State of the Market study, is improper training and a lack of managerial knowledge.

    The study was conducted by Osterman Research and looked at over 120 managers and IT executives in the mid-to-large company ranges. Their conclusion was that the typical cost is $46 per user per month, $1 per user up from a 2009 study done on the same topic. That $46 includes only the managerial costs associated with the system.

    So why have SharePoint costs remained the same while so many other system costs have diminished? The answer, according to the study, is "a lack of administrator skills, training, and knowledge as an inhibitor to efficiently leveraging SharePoint." This means that the management is inefficient due to improper training and background, and the staff members are unable to make the most of their own system.

    When you tabulate the average cost and duration of downtime, the per employee cost expands even further, to $90 per user per month. Consistent maintenance and appropriate setup could reduce or eliminate the additional cost, but the majority of organizations don't make an investment in said maintenance services due to more visible up-front costs associated with those tasks.

    "SharePoint is a set of great tools, but at its core, it's a blank slate for any number of applications," said Scott Gode, VP of product management at Azaleos, which conducted the 2009 study. "With SharePoint, there are no known set of scenarios because you can design anything into it. So there has to be a lot more flexibility and creativity in the way that those administrators are trained and gain experience through their work career."
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