Friday, 12 December 2008

Credit Crunch SharePoint

As Christmas approaches many businesses and organisations are starting to feel the pinch of the Credit Crunch all over the world. Many employees are having to pay for their own meal at the Office Christmas parties and the number of corporate gifts in circulation seems to be less this year. It is now nearly the middle of December and still the Officetalk office awaits it’s first Christmas card of the year. Gone are the days when company’s marketing departments sent all their customers calendars of lovely local views. Now every penny (or for the American readers cents) seems to count. So how can companies save even more money apart from having the lights automatically switch off when there is no one in the room? For organisations who already have SharePoint it could be worth seeing how much more SharePoint can be used to save money. How much does the average company spend on Finance systems, HR Systems, CRM systems, Sales Order Systems, Project Management and IT Helpdesk systems? It is worth always thinking if you are looking at buying any of these systems or looking at reducing maintenance costs on an existing system. Can SharePoint be configured to do this job? Many companies spend considerable amounts on developers designing systems for them and then being almost held to ransom by the Developers when they need a relatively straight-forward change made. This is where SharePoint can be so effective as all the Lists and Views work in very similar ways and fields can easily be changed. SharePoint is fully customisable. Like many SharePoint Consultants Officetalk have found an increased demand for customised SharePoint Application Templates and Webparts lately. Although Microsoft have their fantastic forty Sharepoint templates to download many of these either rely too heavily on InfoPath or are too standard. They are very much starting points and I have seen very few examples (especially here in the UK) of companies using these as out of the box solutions. Companies are beginning to realise that this tool they have for their Intranet or Document Management could be used a whole lot more. Whilst I was shivering in the cold at home last night (as I had turned the heating down by two degrees to try and save money) I was thinking of the ten best systems that could be developed on SharePoint. I seem to have an unhealthy obsession with making lists of top tens. This week alone I have done my favourite 10 Villa Midfield players and my top ten comedy films. Please email me if you would like either of these lists although the hyperlinks are clues to one of the entries in each. So here is my list of ten possible systems on SharePoint in no particular order, no need for Top of Pops music; 1. Security / Carpark Passes 2. Expense Claims 3. Customer Sales Enquiries 4. Senior Managers Movements (no funny comments, I mean who is where when) 5. H&S Incident Reports 6. Chargeable Project Time 7. Meeting Room and Resources Booking 8. Stock Control 9. On Call Rota / Out of Hours Contacts 10. Medical Appointment Booking System I could probably have gone on and on with this list, but I just wanted to show how SharePoint can perform many jobs. Okay, it won’t be the best at any of these jobs because if you spend thousands on, say an ‘H&S Incident Report System’, it would probably do a better job, but would it be so easy to make changes to. Also would the expensive system also be able to store images and monitor Sales Enquiries? Officetalk are trying to do their bit to help you use SharePoint to help with the Credit Crunch by producing a series of Customised Application Site Templates. The first of these was realised this week called Projectbreak and is well worth a look. Priced at under £60 (90% off the 2008 price) it could save companies who charge for their work a few pennies. Click here to take a look at Projectbreak Now perhaps I should end this week as it is nearly Christmas to give you my top ten Christmas songs of all time (yes, they are in order); 1. Last Christmas – Wham 2. Merry Xmas Everyone – Slade 3. White Christmas – Bing Crosby 4. Wombling Merry Christmas – Wombles 5. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Johnny Mathis 6. Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday 7. The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale Of New York 8. David Essex - A Winter's Tale 9. Mud - Lonely This Christmas 10. Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney Feel free to leave your comments on my lists. Don't forget to check out the Mr Bean Christmas link. If you are still Christmas Shopping and want to download last week's Christmas Shopper SharePoint Template click here.

Friday, 5 December 2008

SharePoint Goes Christmas Shopping

It is time to hit the shops in search of Christmas presents and that is what I am about to do. Hopefully the ‘Credit Crunch’ will mean the shops are not quite so full this year. OK, that is a bit mean on the poor Shopkeepers who are trying to keep their businesses a float, but I hate having to spend so long queuing after I have found an elusive present. I am usually a very calm person and not known to get over cross, but the Festive spirit soon goes from me after I have been waiting in a queue at Woolworths for over twenty minutes clutching an empty box for the DS game ‘Curious Village’ only to be told by the young assistant ‘matter-of-factly’ that they haven’t got that game in stock.. Sorry about this moan and I do understand that ‘Woolworths‘ have got enough problem at the moment without me slagging them off in my Sharepoint blog. At least they did stock the 2009 Aston Villa Calendar there which I pointed out to my wife. I must stop moaning though as I can see myself ending up like The best way to Christmas shop (apart from to leave it so late that your wife has already done it) is to plan who you are buying for and roughly what to get them. Always try and think about buying the same present for more than one person. If it is good enough for Auntie Betty would it do for that Margaret at work in the Secret Santa as well? Now, what is the best tool for planning and managing Christmas Presents? It has to be SharePoint as it is so easy to customise and add calculations to. So before I started my Christmas shopping (yes, while the wife was doing it really) I designed a Christmas Shopping Site Template for SharePoint called the Officetalk Christmas Shopper. The Officetalk Christmas Shopper includes a list of who you need to buy for, what you normally spend on these people, how you will get the present to them, if they send you a present back (although obviously it is the giving that is important even if you do refer to this SharePoint site next Christmas), keep a track of how much you spend and even record the presents you have bought these people in the past. This last part is useful when you realise for the fourth year running you are buying your Dad socks again. Mind you, if he is like me after year he will need new socks as somehow I often seem to lose socks. Well, I seem to frequently lose one sock. One day perhaps they will all turn up. Now, as it is Christmas and the Officetalk Consultants are such generous chaps we are giving this Christmas Shopper SharePoint site Template away FREE OF CHARGE. All you need is too have either WSS 3.0 or MOSS installed. Then just send an email to me by clicking on the link below and ask for help with your Christmas Shopping; Email Andy Dale Oh, I didn’t mention that the Christmas Shopper Template includes a Christmas Planner so you can make a note of all the Christmas Parties that you are invited to even though you can’t go as you have to do your Christmas Shopping. If you haven’t already downloaded it checkout my Christmas Countdown and Advent SharePoint Tips featured in last week’s blog by clicking ‘Christmas Goodies’.