SharePoint – Reap the investment

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let's face it there is a cost associated with SharePoint, it is certainly not free, there are cheaper products, some even free, so how do you convince the budget holder that it is worth the money and will give a return on investment?

There are 2 ways that SharePoint can give a return on investment (ROI):-

  1. Tangibly improve business processes to cut costs and increase efficiency.
  2. Eliminate license/support/infrastructure costs of a range of 3rd party products.

In a business that uses the Microsoft Platform there is also the benefit of having Servers, Databases and trained employees that can support the SharePoint Installation, albeit with a bit of extra training.

SharePoint Improves Business Processes

SharePoint provides an organisation with an Enterprise system that can be used to streamline processes. I will mention some of the functionality that can give you an ROI by creating efficient processes.

Workflow

Documents or Forms that are created can automatically be routed to the correct person, these same documents or forms can be stored electronically where a current paper process exists. Workflows can be created to review documents, approve documents or any conceivable process that needs to take place. ROI can be gained from the number of hours this cuts out.

Searching

In any business searching for information can take up a considerable amount of time. Having all the information in one place can ensure that searching for information does not waste valuable time. Check out the FAST search features to see what SharePoint can do.

Intranet

Improving the way your employees interact with each other and share important information can improve everyday business activities. If the content is structured correctly knowledge sharing can thrive within your business.

SharePoint Eliminates 3rd party software costs

In large organisations there can be many software products that have been purchased by different departments. In some organisations such as councils and energy companies there can be in my experience many applications from different vendors that need to be supported and have their license costs paid each year. A few examples of what SharePoint can do are:-

Electronic Forms

InfoPath forms can be routed into a forms library and workflow can then take place on those forms. Any form that is on paper can be replicated electronically. Electronic forms software that publishes forms to websites can be eliminated by using InfoPath forms server to publish forms to the Web. The InfoPath forms can consume data from a variety of sources to provide interactive and intelligent forms. The data that is gathered can be sent direct into a Database or 3rd Party Application.

Search

Search can be outsourced to a 3rd party provider for external websites. SharePoint 2010 has Enterprise Search Capabilities can be used to provide internet searching of your organisation's website and also any micro sites or internal websites that you control.

Business information

SharePoint Enterprise comes with a product called Performance Point Server. This business information tool can be used to generate reports from any business data source that has an open data connection. These reports can be published through SharePoint, for example how the business is performing against its core KPI's. These reports can again consume all sorts of data including OLAP cubes to show real time views of data. The reports can be stored in a reports Library or displayed to the user on a SharePoint page.

Document management

SharePoint contains extensive functionality such as the document libraries and taxonomy that enable enterprise document management. The document centre in SharePoint 2010 is especially useful to enable the storage of documents without the hierarchical file structure that is usually associated with file storage. Documents are found through the meta data that they contain and powerful drilling down in Keyword Term Sets can find documents faster.

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