Now that I have SharePoint, what do I do with it?


It continues to amaze me how many organizations have SharePoint or go out and purchase it but still aren’t sure what to do with it.  While you could easily show them the SharePoint wheel or talk about features, functions or capabilities…it isn’t enough.   Simply saying SharePoint is a collaboration tool is not enough as “collaboration” itself is such an abstract term.  While you could simplify SharePoint and say that everything inside the application is really a “list” with rows and columns used to track things, that isn’t quite enough.  So it’s usually best to begin the conversation by relating SharePoint to people’s day to day work activities.  The goal is to show people there’s a better way of working than they do today.

Executives and business managers seem to understand ERP & CRM systems, data, reports, and transactional processes.  However, most people don’t realize there’s a whole set of collaborative “activities” that need to happen to actually generate the required data to enter into those transactional systems.  The below diagram outlines this in more detail.   It shows the business activities that occur before, during, or after entering raw data into number crunching transactional ERP/CRM systems.  It’s the top half of the diagram — the “Unstructured Activities” — that SharePoint as a technology platform focuses on.  SharePoint’s capabilities were designed to surface information and address unstructured content, knowledge, activities and the social interactions that take place in business.

Ideally, you’ll want to pick a business process executives and workers are familiar with or processes that touch a painful nerve in those individuals.  Maybe it’s the sales process, or onboarding of new employees, or some other internal operation or customer facing activity.   Have them identify all the Word tables and Excel documents in which they track information on their desktops.  Map out the value chain — the people, emails, documents, activities and workflows, and the points where raw data is used and decisions are made.   Once you do that, you can easily begin to propose and prototype a solution that can be implemented with the capabilities that SharePoint provides.   You can begin to educate people on what’s possible, show them how SharePoint can alleviate some common day to day headaches, and get them excited about the possibilities and changes to come.

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