It's easy to forget there is a whole other world out there that does not use or know SharePoint.
I was recently invited to a Podcast to try and explain why SharePoint has been so successful — or rather implemented — in businesses. The question came from a Visual Studio or developer community as they were curious why they kept hearing SharePoint everywhere. Here's how I explained its success.
Wait, What is SharePoint?
I think anyone that knows SharePoint very well is scared of that question, myself included. But if I had to give you a short description, I would say it’s a web-based platform that allows you to build on without necessarily knowing code or databases. It has a very basic structure for you to work with.
- Sites: A container where you work and store objects like Lists and Libraries.
- Lists: Similar to an Excel spreadsheet, rows and columns to help you manage data directly on the web.
- Libraries: Similar to a list mentioned above but used to store documents instead.
Of course there’s a lot more to it than that but it helps us get to the very core.
For more advanced users, I like to refer SharePoint as being a friendly version of a Database Server like SQL or Access.
The SharePoint Site, very similar to a “Database” — a container of sorts.
The lists and libraries are the tables where you store your data within a database.
You can create views in both SharePoint and a Database server; they are close to being the same.
Finally, where traditionally we would have developed an application to connect to and show what is in this database, in SharePoint, we create pages with Web Parts to show what is within it.
If you think about it, SharePoint has given the Power Users and the people in the company a way to create web-based database applications with little to no effort.
Problems Faced by Businesses
That dreaded “P:\” drive or whichever letter was used in your company (even if you have more than one you know exactly what I am talking about). Up to at least a few years ago, you could walk up to anyone in the street, ask about their Shared Drive and you could expect the same reaction every time. What exactly are the problems with Shared Drives?
- Can’t find your documents
- You can only have documents (or files if you want)
- No versioning of documents
- No Content Approval
- Files and Documents can only be physically at one location
Let’s say you only have two folders in this wonderful Shared Drive; one called “Contracts” the other called “Customers.” You are a new employee in my company and I ask you to work or save a file that is a contract for customer x. What do you do? Either you lose time trying to find the right document or, if you are saving it, you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right.
Now take into perspective the thousands of folders you have, with scenarios a little more complicated than the one I used. How much time do you think is lost or wasted navigating through the Shared Drive? Research shows that 30% is the average time wasted searching for documents.
Emails and the Endless CC’s
Ever been CCed in an email that feels like a conversation between other people you simply cannot get out of? Reminds me of when Facebook used to do the same — you’d get invited to a conversation without your permission and had to endure it.
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