With an updated platform release, companies often reflect on the state and well-being of their existing investments, asking themselves whether a move to the newest version is necessary, or possible. The same can be said for reviews of SharePoint implementations. A common question from executives to the teams and stakeholders who own and manage SharePoint is "How productive are our end users in SharePoint?"
Why Focus on SharePoint Productivity?
This can be a difficult question to answer. Most organizations have traditionally focused on deploying the platform, but have failed to consider the measurements of success. Increasingly, I am talking to administrators and executives alike about the need for more focus on SharePoint productivity. Why this focus? I summarize the need as follows:
- To simplify the interface into SharePoint
- To better align end user activities with the needs of the business
- To better streamline business processes
- To get more out of SharePoint investments you've already made
The result of changing your focus to end user productivity means a higher return on investment (ROI) for the platform overall, because it means more users on the platform, getting more out of the platform. You'll see these benefits through faster employee on-boarding and training, more business output and stronger platform usage -- all of which means a faster realization of the financial investments you've already made in SharePoint.
Within a couple of my regular presentations on the topic, I walk attendees through some of the broader themes within the latest release of SharePoint, and briefly discuss the impact these shifts in the platform might have on end user productivity. For example, SharePoint 2013 marked a dramatic change in how sites and pages are designed, configured and maintained with the availability of new web content management (WCM) features, allowing organizations to customize their end user experiences. Features like cross-site publishing, metadata navigation and design management tools help organizations to more easily expand their SharePoint footprint to tablet and mobile formats.
Talking about new, and updated features in the latest release is always interesting. The real focus is always to highlight some of the more compelling features that, out of the box, will help end users to increase their productivity.
Questions to Ask
A key questions many companies are asking is: Should I make the move to SharePoint 2013 on premises now or later? Should I start planning to migrate content to Office365, or will I need to set up some kind of hybrid solution that spans both options?
The answer to those questions really depends on the needs (and constraints) of your business. There are still many happy customers on the MOSS 2007 platform, who are only now considering an upgrade as Microsoft prepares to end support for the platform in the near future. Likewise, if SharePoint 2010 is meeting the needs of your end users and your business requirements, there may not be a need to immediately upgrade.
However, if you find that your business increasingly relies on social tools, or your workforce is moving to tablets and mobile, or your competitive advantage requires you to stay on top of the latest search and business intelligence trends -- you may want to consider moving to SharePoint 2013 soon, whether on premises or online.
At the end of the day, it's not about the technology, but about the needs of your business. The best strategy includes tight alignment of business outcomes to technology capability, and ample input from your end users on what they need to be productive.