Even More Business Value Delivery at SHARE 2013

Lunch is being carted away and collateral is getting packed up here in the Exhibit Hall at SHARE 2013, which tells me that the time is almost here to bid adieu to the fair city of Atlanta and hello again to Washington, D.C.  But before I get to waxing too poetic, let’s get a recap of this morning’s sessions…

Once again, today I decided to follow the “Delivering Business Value” track.  Presented corporate end users and similar to yesterday’s sessions, the two sessions I attended focused on different ways in which SharePoint can be leveraged at the enterprise level to capture ROI as well as drive communication and collaboration in your organization.

The first session, titled “Grow Your SharePoint ROI, Get Even More Out of the Box,” was presented Arvind Sampath of Lend Lease.  So I know what you’re thinking…. “Julie, you work for a company that SELLS SharePoint Web Parts.  Why on Earth would you want to listen to a case study focused on everything out-of-the-box?!?”  Don’t worry readers, read on and you’ll find out that, as always, there’s a method to my madness…

Arvind’s presentation was based on the idea that when it comes to challenges within the organization, the answer isn’t always “we need more people,” but rather that we need more efficient processes and more accessible libraries and knowledge bases.  The presentation was structured to include three different, distinct case studies, each with their own business problem and respective solution.  The first problem involved a classic issue that I’m certain most administrators and managers can relate to – individuals not following in-place processes and/or  who aren’t sure of what the process is for something or how to find it.  To solve this problem, Arvind utilized OOTB SharePoint to create a single source of information that was highly accessible and which spelled out clearly defined processes.  In his demo, he showed how, through the use of SharePoint 2013 and the Visio web app, he was able to build user-friendly, clickable process charts that left little room for confusion and resulted in a steep decline in errors and mistakes.

From here, Arvind transitioned to the discussion of another problem that plagues a number of companies: growth.  Whether through natural expansion or mergers and acquisitions, unplanned growth can dramatically affect how we ascertain information.  While point-to-point relations are functional in small businesses, once a business grows to a certain size, the point-to-point model is simply not realistic.  So how did Arvind address growth within his organization and improve visibility of his team?  Simple – SHARED inboxes.  By setting up shared inboxes that could be accessed anyone in a particular user group as well as implement email-enabled document libraries in SharePoint, he was able to provide standardization to a previously un-automated process and there increase productivity.

For his last case study and demo, Arvind addressed the advent of the global workforce and the inherent problems that come with having numerous, globally located offices.  The specific issue within his organization had to do with regional groups who needed access to both global AND local content while not in their “home” location.  He built his solution setting up a single information repository in SharePoint where all content could be accessed and easily searched and filtered.  With the help of the OOTB Content Query Web Part, Arvind was able to provide a simple solution for his traveling workforce all while producing big returns with little to no additional cost investment.

So to return to the point I made earlier about being able to just use SharePoint OOTB to address business needs… as Arvind showed in presentation, it is possible to solve some everyday business problems with SharePoint OOTB.  Realistically though?  Any organization that wants to achieve optimal performance and efficiency is going to be hard-pressed to do this with just SharePoint OOTB.  In fact, Arvind admitted on more than one occasion throughout his presentation that his solutions were not as automated as possible and definitely had room for improvement and enhancement.  Likewise, as a bit of an admitted SharePoint novice, his presentation really help me to understand why we do what we do here at Bamboo – sure, SharePoint is a great platform, but without the addition of third-party components, tools, and suites (such as those that we have developed at Bamboo), its capabilities and efficacy is limited.

After I got a nice pat on the back and a little reassurance of the value we at Bamboo provide, I attended a session that, coincidentally enough, ALSO helped to highlight Bamboo’s strengths.  In “SharePoint for Corporate Communicators: How to Establish Policies, Engage Employees, and Create a Stellar Intranet on a Tight Budget,” Christy Punch, Senior Intranet Strategist for SCANA Corporation, presented on her organization’s recent experience with transferring a legacy intranet system to SharePoint.  Back in 2008, after finally getting fed up with myriad issues including lack of search, no metrics measurement, and heavy reliance on an already burdened IT department, SCANA committed to redesigning their current system and replacing it with SharePoint.

Due to a lack of monetary resources; however, SCANA made the difficult business decision to rely on SharePoint OOTB for their SharePoint deployment and compensate for any missing capabilities developing custom-coded Web Parts in-house.  In order to maximize the return on what small investment they were able to make, SCANA relied heavily on usability tests and reviews and interfaced heavily with users to ensure that the new system met their needs and worked for them.  With the redesign, SCANA was able to capture a number of benefits including:

  • The ability to maintain their intranet with limited IT involvement;
  • The ability to make rapid, real time updates and changes;
  • Increased management and coordination of intranet layout, structure and security; and
  • Better documentation of all technical and administrative information.

After discussing the benefits earned utilizing SharePoint for their company intranet, Christy went on to talk about another common issue that comes along with implementing any new software or solution – user adoption.  In order to market the new SharePoint-based intranet, Christy’s team, in keeping with the theme of limited budget, launched a grassroots campaign.  By making in-house teaser videos, hosting a lunch and learn webcast, holding a scavenger hunt contest, and more, Christy and her team were successful in driving user adoption and transitioning SCANA’s population to the new intranet.

To conclude, Christy summed up some of her major lessons learned.  Perhaps the biggest takeaway was that keeping employees involved in the process is critical in ensuring that they will be engaged and adaptive to change.  Additionally, through new metrics that were set in place, Christy was able to show upper management an interesting fact that hadn’t previously been realized – it’s not just office employees that use the intranet; on-site and in-the-field employees were likewise heavy intranet users.  Ironically, one other thing that really spoke to me was the learning curve and massive time and investment that came along with learning custom coding.  Although it saved money, it wasn’t clear if the money saved was worth the valuable (and exhaustive!) amount of time that was invested in learning SharePoint development.  In addition, as a result of using custom-coding as opposed to third party services, when upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to 2010, Christy noted that nearly four – four! – months had to be invested just to make their customizations compatible.

Now what if they had used third party Web Parts, such as those available from Bamboo, instead of in-house customizations?  Four months?  Or a plug and play upgrade within a matter of minutes…

Want even more SHARE Conference 2013?  Check out the complete series in the links
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