SharePoint Solutions: Smart Investments in a Recession

If collaboration solutions were a smart investment in 2008, they are even smarter in the recession of 2009.  Well architected SharePoint solutions are likely to be one of the smartest investments companies can make to survive and thrive in this challenging economy.  Here are a few ideas to help justify or accelerate your SharePoint solution investment and ensure that your investment shows a quick and sustainable return.

Why SharePoint now?

  1. Solutions that automate business processes, especially those processes that are designed to replace lost workers, can help organizations deliver value with fewer resources. If an organization already owns SharePoint (and we all know that many do), building an automation solution on the SharePoint platform may be easier to justify than an expensive investment in business process automation software.
  2. Effective collaboration solutions help to minimize travel expenses.  Pretty much every organization I know is severely cutting back on travel expenses this year.  In a geographically dispersed organization, cutting back on travel doesn’t mean project teams aren’t expected to work together; it must means that they have to work more effectively at a distance.  SharePoint team sites, wikis, and blogs are a key enabler for effective distance collaboration.
  3. Now, more than ever, companies can’t afford the productivity drain resulting from not being able to find information.  I’ve read some estimates that the infamous “knowledge worker” spends close to 50% of his time searching for information.  Can organizations really afford not to invest in a solution that helps increase information transparency and improves “findability?”   Should we really be paying our scarce resources to navigate through endless LAN folders or should we be investing in solutions that promote asset re-use and facilitate knowledge transfer?
When you get the commitment to move ahead, here are some implementation considerations that are even more important in a recession than they are in a growing economy:

  1. Don’t just throw SharePoint “over the fence” and expect users to jump on board.  Create sample solutions and model sites so that teams can quickly begin to take advantage of the improved ability to find information in a well-architected SharePoint solution.
  2. Don’t skip the information architecture step – it’s just as easy to design an “unfindable” SharePoint solution as it is to create a nested folder hierarchy that is 14 layers deep.  A small investment in information architecture (from an expert consultant either inside or outside the organization) can help ensure the success of your SharePoint investment.
  3. Be sure to include a governance plan to ensure things don’t get out of control and that users have a plan to maintain content over time.  The only way your strategic collaboration investments will have a chance of being a valuable investment to ride out the recession and provide a platform for growth in a turn-around is if the content is reliable and current (in addition to being “findable”).  A strong governance plan is critical to ensure that your investment delivers value in both the short and long term.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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