SharePoint: The Ultimate Game Changer
"There are so many different ways we can bend SharePoint around the purposes we have for it," John says. "And you can do it at many different levels—you can do it right through the consoles in SharePoint; you can use SharePoint Designer to get to a more sophisticated level; and since SharePoint is a .NET application, if you're a .NET programmer, you can really have at it. Some of the workflows I've seen developed in SharePoint are insane!"
Does the world at large—and that is another way of saying "potential SharePoint users"—understand that it is NOT an out-of-the-box product, but is instead a vastly extendible development tool? That depends on the company. It's kind of a cultural thing," answers John. "Companies that are familiar with custom applications will get it faster than companies that have never developed their own applications. Those will probably tend to take it as-is," he says.
"It comes down to education, because you can take it too far in the other direction, too. You can go crazy and over-develop and over-customize and all you're doing is duplicating functionality that's already there, if you just knew how to enable it," adds John.
"A well-educated company is one that sits down and listens to the whole landscape. They hold up a mirror and say to themselves, ‘This will work for us. That won't.' And in the process, they take stock of themselves as well as develop their adoption of SharePoint or migration to a new version," says John. "One of the most gratifying things for me has been this self-reflection. We'll have a company meeting. About halfway through we'll start talking about workflow. And someone will say, ‘That will really help this (name it) process.' And someone else will say, ‘That's not our process!' And someone else will say ‘Oh yes, it is!'"
That's a sophisticated, self-aware organization, I tell John, and there are damn few of those. So I ask whether there are any companies that are NOT good candidates for SharePoint. He thinks about it for a minute, and says, "I have one. It's a one-person business, and the guy doesn't collaborate or communicate with anybody, ever, internally or externally. That is the ideal NON-SharePoint person! Other than that, I can't think of one," laughs John.
SharePoint is something of a democratizer. Before SharePoint, if a 10-person company wanted to develop a custom application and workflow to track expense reports... it just couldn't do it. It would have been WAY too expensive. But SharePoint doesn't demand a high level of development know-ledge. If you're a pretty good user that understands the building blocks of SharePoint, and understands business processes, you can do it.
These pages hold more "education" than you'd think. They represent a new way of looking at business process and application development that is changing the way we work and live. Read on and join the wave.