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5 ways SharePoint can save your business money

The current economic climate has created a unique set of challenges for organizations in all industry sectors. Business decision makers are under pressure to constrain spending, and that includes IT investment and expenditure. At the same time, businesses must continually seek to maintain and improve their productivity and effectiveness in order to stay competitive in what may be a shrinking market for their goods or services.

This paper focuses on five specific ways in which SharePoint Products and Technologies can save you money. When you adopt SharePoint Products and Technologies in your organization, you can:

  1. Reduce IT costs and complexity, by consolidating multiple product investments into a single infrastructure, by reducing infrastructure and support costs, and by getting all your enterprise solutions under a single product license.
  2. Reduce development costs, by using comprehensive out-of-the-box components, by using built-in integration with the Microsoft Office 2007 suite, and by using the .NET Framework object models to reduce learning curves and development time.
  3. Simplify management and training, by providing a single, easy-to-use interface for end users and for IT administration and governance.
  4. Improve employee productivity, by implementing collaboration workspaces, self-service Web publishing, social computing features, and business process workflow and forms.
  5. Enhance the effectiveness of customer service and sales teams, by aggregating critical information from across the enterprise and by providing rapid, easy access to information.

Like many organizations, yours probably relies on enterprise solutions in a number of key areas to facilitate productivity and effectiveness. For example, you might wish to implement:

  • Enterprise Content Management solutions. These include tools to aid collaboration, such as shared workspaces with document version management and workflow, and business process integration solutions to capture and manage the flow of information around your organization.
  • Portal solutions. These provide a unified entry point and a common infrastructure for sites, workspaces, and Web content across your organization. Portal solutions may be targeted at your employees, your partners, or your customers.
  • Search solutions. These provide a platform from which employees can search for relevant, up-to-date information from disparate sources across your organization. Effective search solutions are becoming an increasingly essential tool for large or information-driven organizations – an independent survey by IDC found that the average information worker in the United States spends approximately nine-and-a-half hours per week searching for information (IDC: The Hidden Costs of Information Work, April 2006, Doc #201334).
  • Business intelligence solutions. These provide a way of aggregating and summarizing critical information from line-of-business tools, such as inventory management or customer relationship management systems. Business intelligence solutions are used to create clear and often highly visual dashboards for use by customer service representatives, sales executives, and senior management.

These solutions provide an essential service in the day-to-day operations of an enterprise organization. However, they also bring additional overheads and can introduce new demands on your IT resources. Enterprise solutions are generally expensive. In addition to licensing the software, you must invest time and money in implementing the necessary infrastructure. Every new solution you introduce creates additional demands on your IT team, who first must learn how to deploy and manage it and later must devote time to administering and maintaining it. Your end users will require training and mentoring on every new system.

It can also be difficult and costly to integrate enterprise solutions with one another, which is often necessary when you want to provide truly effective business information in your organization. Extending or tailoring these solutions to your specific requirements may demand highly specialized expertise that, needless to say, comes at a premium price. You may also want to consider the benefits and issues of your enterprise solutions from the perspective of your end users:

  • How many different systems do your employees have to use to do their jobs?
  • How much time does it take an employee to learn to use each system effectively?
  • How easily can an employee find information, share information, or aggregate information from different sources?

It may be many months following the deployment of an enterprise solution before your employees are comfortable using it and fully understand the feature set that it provides.

How SharePoint Can Help

Let's take a look at how SharePoint Products and Technologies can address some of the pain points of enterprise solutions.

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS) is the core platform that underpins every product in the SharePoint Products and Technologies suite. WSS provides you with the capability to quickly create Web sites with key collaboration and document management features. Built on ASP.NET and the .NET Framework, WSS exposes a comprehensive, easy-to-use object model that enables developers with experience of ASP.NET and managed code to extend and customize the feature set with ease.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 builds on WSS to provide a comprehensive, enterprise ready information management solution. At the same time, because it builds on WSS, it retains all of the extensibility and programmability of the underlying platform. Key features of Office SharePoint Server 2007 include:

  • A rich feature set for collaboration, including workspaces, document management, wikis, and social computing features.
  • A complete portal framework that you can use to aggregate, manage, and control access to information across your organization.
  • True enterprise-class search across SharePoint sites, remote Web sites, document stores, and line-of-business applications.
  • A full enterprise content management suite, with tools to aid Web publishing, audience targeting, and records management for all types of online content.
  • Comprehensive support for business process integration and workflow.
  • A rich business intelligence framework that you can use to aggregate line-of-business data and create business intelligence dashboards.

In a nutshell, Office SharePoint Server 2007 integrates several enterprise solutions into a single, manageable system. This integration and extensibility can help you to reduce the total cost of ownership for your IT infrastructure, by:

  • Reducing infrastructure costs and complexity.
  • Reducing development costs.
  • Simplifying management.
  • Minimizing training requirements.

At the same time, the rich feature set and ease of use helps you to maximize your return on investment by:

  • Improving employee productivity.
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of your business teams.

To get more details on how Microsoft SharePoint can save you money, download the full paper today.

Sandeep Walia is the President & CEO of Ignify. Ignify has over 300 person years of SharePoint experience and internally leverages SharePoint as a tool to collaborate across all its offices and for all its projects. For help on Sharepoint Services email us at sharepoint@ignify.com

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