SPSTC: Rob Manfredi on ‘Trends Driving the Need for Solutions on SharePoint – Frontline Business Automation and How to Best Deliver Those Solutions’

Rob Manfredi presenting his SPSTCDC session, "'Trends Driving the Need for Solutions on SharePoint - Frontline Business Automation and How to Best Deliver Those Solutions"Rob Manfredi, Bamboo Solutions' Vice President of Sales, explained at the beginning of his SPSTC session Saturday morning that in his presentation he would be "trying to be Bamboo-agnostic" on the subject of delivering solutions on SharePoint.  Rob then cited Mike Tanner's whitepaper, Build vs. Buy: The Case for using Commercial Solution Frameworks to Extend Microsoft SharePoint, as being the source of much of the data he'd be sharing. 

Referencing SPSTC organizer Dux Raymond Sy, Rob borrowed a quote from him in defining the most important measure of SharePoint success as "delivering business value on SharePoint."  Although 40% of SharePoint deployments involve the development of custom programming, Rob reported that "Microsoft reiterated [their recommendation] at SPTechCon: out-of-the-box first, third-party apps second, custom programming third." 

Rob explained that barriers to successful SharePoint deployments include:  development time and effort to build custom apps; deployments that are technically more difficult than anticipated; and the plain fact that "SharePoint is difficult, and projects are going to take more time than planned."

Addressing the "why" of SharePoint, Rob discussed the contrast between apps and social media (from TomToms to Facebook) in workers' personal lives versus their work lives, saying "We're trying to be as powerful at work as we are in our personal life [with tools that lead to] better productivity," and "the promise of SharePoint is to quickly deliver apps and solutions to [empower workers] do their job better."  To this end, "SharePoint uniquely satisfies two important needs of frontline workers: to collaborate and negotiate in order to get their jobs done."

SharePoint and the notion of an enterprise app store is "directly connected to accomplishing front line work," said Rob.  Touching on the notion of end user adoption of SharePoint, Rob suggested that "If you provide meaningful solutions to your users, you're going to increase adoption."  Listing some common applications for SharePoint, Rob mentioned project management, case and request management, social apps, knowledge management, document management, and sales and marketing automation. 

Citing a recent AIIM survey, Rob said that "The reality is that almost half of all SharePoint customers lack a clear strategy."  Discussing some of the basic risks of custom development, Rob again cited the AIIM survey's findings that: estimates fail if development is not a core skill of your business (there is "an amazingly limited resource pool of SharePoint talent… and they're expensive"); costs will continue for the useful life of the project; 15% of all projects fail outright, and 51% are described as "challenged."   Rob's call to arms here was that we "not bring the typical project fail rate onto SharePoint."  To that end, he said that "the important thing is that whatever [third-party providers] deliver, we need to maintain the flexibility of that application, because SharePoint is changing." 

Rob then explained the concept of framework solutions as being "a new development paradigm not code we're trying to customize and configure."  Framework solutions are engineered to be "snapped together" so that individual Web Parts "go from [being puzzle] pieces to a whole picture … and the combinations are endless."  Rob then walked through a framework solution for case management by way of example. 

Referring back to the previously mentioned definition of SharePoint success, in conclusion, Rob stated that the cost savings and corporate value represented by third-party applications "allow you to devote more time to those things which differentiate you in the market, and make you more competitive."

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