Make sure you’re getting the most out of SharePoint.
I have been working with SharePoint for the past decade and have seen it transform from the basic Version 1 product through to the advanced SharePoint Online as part of Office 365.
During this transformation I have seen it move from a basic intranet in a box through to a comprehensive business intelligence and collaboration platform.
Previously a customer requiring SharePoint involved an extensive consultation and planning phase, hardware and software procurement, and a large amount of professional services for deployment and customisation.
In recent times with Microsoft Office 365 (and its precursor BPOS) the journey to SharePoint has become much shorter – now with the ability to simply subscribe to the service, create a site and begin using it.
This is a fantastic solution for SMBs where implementing SharePoint can very quickly improve day to day operations.
However, it regularly pains me when I hear people refer to SharePoint as a document management system or a way to simply share files. Quite often SharePoint is positioned based on its document library functionality and left as such. This has become even more so the case recently with businesses seeing SharePoint Online as simply a way to store files in the cloud.
This brings us to the title of this piece: SharePoint is not a file system. I believe that the file storage functionality really only equates to 1% of its true potential. If SharePoint Online has been positioned to you as document management or storage in the cloud – you have been sold short.
Let’s sidestep for a moment.
Cars are amazing things – they allow us to get from A to B far quicker than ever before, more efficiently and more safely. Most cars also have a radio in them. But would you sell them as just a radio? No. You also wouldn’t sell it to be used as a wheelbarrow, although it can be that too. And while they’re easy to use, you wouldn’t get your local mechanic to build you one either.
Like a car, businesses buy SharePoint for its full capabilities, not just for the radio. And they need an expert to build it. SharePoint has become its own platform that has created a sub-industry within IT.
When talking to your IT partner about SharePoint Online and being more collaborative by harnessing the power of the cloud, don’t just stop at the file sharing. Challenge them to provide you with examples of solutions they have built, training services offered, third-party tools they harness, and most importantly how their customers are actually using SharePoint.
If they can’t answer this and just talk about storing files, remember: SharePoint is not a file system.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.