Archive for evaluation

To Sharepoint or not to Sharepoint.

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Lance Strzok

I have been evaluating Sharepoint 2007 for utility within our organization and although the very word “Sharepoint” seems to bring to mind sharing, I find that when combined with most of the workforce I am in, sharing is far from what happens. I have since started calling it “Stovepoint”. Not that the software is completely to blame, but also what features are turned on or turned off when installed.

One of the biggest problems I have with it is editing documents on the Sharepoint server using any other browser other then Internet Explorer (IE). I prefer Firefox at the moment as my primary browser, but it does not open and allow editing of content on the Sharepoint server, so I have to open the file in IE, and then go on editing. I would prefer that the server be agnostic to the user browser, and just let me edit and save the document. In my case, where I want to collaborate with people around the world, I can not assume that everyone of them has access too IE to use in order to update that file.

The blogging software is lacking when compared to WordPress, and I like all the user support and development for WordPress plugins, addons, and the general extensibility.

As for the Wiki feature, I would prefer the same syntax and capabilities as well as support for Media Wiki software used by Wikipedia.

I found I wanted to do a lot more with Real Simple Syndication (RSS) then what Sharepoint had to offer. Modern workforces are looking to more then just a few tools to handle the mountains of data that are available to them. RSS, and the ability to ingest, sort, search, and display as well as re-feed out that list to other members of a team are important. The closest I have come to that is Using Feedreader.

One of my major concerns is collaborating with the wiki or blog or documents from outside of the organization. At least in our organization, that capability just does not exist. I can collaborate with the people in my organization, but not outside of it, and frankly, I already tend to do that fairly well. I really want to reach collaborators outside of the organization, and get ideas from outside of our spaces.

Now before I get a bunch of responses that say “it can do that”, you have to consider that all I am using is the base tool. No additional widgets, no developers to make it do what I want. Just a bare install. I say this because to add any additional effort has to be approved, budgeted for, and might happen some time in the distant future, which does not solve my problems now.

I have an additional concern about the general dependency on Microsoft Office tools in general. We seem to rely on Word, PowerPoint, and Excel spreadsheets and Outlook more then we should. I don’t believe there is any real competition to MS tools, and that only in recent times are we starting to see MS taking input from users and programming to meet user generated requirements. I think more of their recent tools are getting better for this reason. But I will always look to open source to provide good alternatives to MS tools that will keep costs down, and drive future innovations. A good example would be Firefox capabilities driving changes in IE as a browser. I am sure there are other examples and would love to see them in the comments below.

My overall recommendation has to be to use our instance of Sharepoint for our internal website. Hanging documents there that are read only or archived would be fine. Actively edited docs, well I don’t think I would push using it for that since I tend to seek collaboration on a global scale. I would also ban attachments, and go for sending links to a URL with the file to be edited on the other end using another piece of software.

Before closing, I do want to make sure that I say something important about Microsoft. I like 3 products of theirs very much. Excel, Word, and Powerpoint. I know there are strong less expensive competitors out there for those tools, and I hope it continues to spur innovation and improvement in those tools. Especially in the areas of seamless integration with other successful tools.

Please let me know if you think I forgot some more important things to mention with regard to this decision (like cost, or support). I would love to hear good and bad so that I can help my organization make a good decision on keeping it, or adopting other services to meet our needs.

As always, thanks for reading.