Monday, 22 March 2010

Why Do I Support SharePoint?

If you are visiting this site to vote in the Andy Dale SharePoint Awards 2010 please Click Here to view last week’s SharePoint blog, but before you do unless you are in a real hurry why not take a few minutes out to read this week’s SharePoint Blog. You can always vote later. I will put the link again at the end.

Office Talk were invited to do a short presentation about the use of SharePoint as a Document Management Tool to a group of College IT Managers last week. This gave me the chance to show my real passion for SharePoint and especially the ease and simplicity of Windows SharePoint Services, but to my surprise we weren’t the only Document Management Tool demonstrating (that will teach me not to read the itinerary before hand). Also demonstrating was a product called Alfresco which is an open source product and looked to do a lot of the functions of the Document Management side of SharePoint. It was interesting then that at a Q&A session after the presentations I had to defend my SharePoint corner and say why it was the best product available. This made me evaluate why I actually am a SharePoint supporter and why I was so passionate about the product. I will go into this in detail later on, but first I think I should say why I am an Aston Villa supporter. For none football fans, or people that don’t want to know a little about what makes Andy Dale tick, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before to regular readers, but I am a follower of one of the greatest teams in England Aston Villa. One of only four English teams to be crowned champions of Europe, but that isn’t why I support them. Now my dad, brother and my Granddad supported Wolverhampton Wanderers probably the nearest main football team to us. At the age of five I wanted a tracksuit and my Granddad obliged, but instead of it being gold and back (the colours of the Wolves) it was a claret colour. At the time I was disappointed, but always listened to my knowledgeable Granddad who said they were the colours of one of the finest teams in the land, Aston Villa, who had won the FA Cup a record seven times, which was more than any other team (the fact that now 37 years later they have still only won 7 is a major frustration, but hopefully that will change in May). So from that day on I was a Villa fan and have now had a season ticket for twenty eight seasons.

On Saturday the Villa were at home to the Wolves in a really entertaining game that ended as a draw (which would have pleased my mum). Yet I spent the whole day answering texts from my brother and other Wolves supporting friends claiming moral victories. I had to defend refereeing decisions, defend the singing of the famous Holte End, the tackling of Petrov and most of all defend my beloved Aston Villa. In the same way as at the Document Management Event last week I had to defend my beliefs.

So why am I a SharePoint Supporter? I think you have to start with the fact I am a Microsoft man and use Microsoft products. Yes, I know they all have their faults and don’t get me started on the Vista fiasco, but the truth is 80% plus of all companies use Microsoft products. They are well supported, well designed and there is loads of useful information out about them. I have been using SharePoint since early 2003 and have seen it develop. I like the fact it is so simple and easy to use. The way I can very quickly show people who have never seen it how they can easily gain benefits from it. Probably most of all I like the many many different things it does. Maybe the Open Source guys with their ‘Alfreco’ had a point in that their product was better if you purely wanted a Document Management system, but the SharePoint product opens so many more possibilities. It isn’t the filling of the pie that is important but the whole pie. The SharePoint Workflow capabilities lets you simplify almost any of your systems (i.e. Purchase Orders, Holiday Requests, Visitor logging, sickness absence and many more). Office Talk recently helped a company quickly be able to evaluate why people were leaving their company by simply using the SharePoint system they already had installed.

SharePoint might not be the master of any one task, but it is pretty good at many. If you were to choose the best solution each time you would have to employ so many different experts and offer such a wide variety of training. Yet with SharePoint if you know how one area works you know it all.

I do preach maybe a little too much to the unconverted on SharePoint, but struggle to understand why a company who uses Microsoft Server 2003 (or 2008) haven’t downloaded the free version of Windows SharePoint Services. It is so easy to install and start playing with. Unlike the Open Source which I struggle to follow when I first install I believe SharePoint is relatively straight forward. Please feel free to comment if you disagree. It has a Site Actions menu which includes either ‘Create’ to create new sites, libraries or lists. Then it has ‘Edit Page’ to let you edit the page you are currently viewing. Here you can simply move sections around and add new sections. Or last of all ‘Site Settings’ where you can get to all the other functions and features. In fact it is very tempting for IT Administrators to be ‘self taught’ and whilst this works Office Talk would very much recommend a one day training course so that you can see all the extra clever little tricks that are available and how to get the most business benefits from it.

You can probably see that I am passionate about both the Villa and SharePoint (especially WSS), but to show you why I think both are the best below is two lists of ten. You can decide for yourselves which list is which.

First Ten Reasons for being the best in no particular order

1. Has full version control.
2. With the free SharePoint Designer you can quickly add very effective Workflow.
3. Can stream videos direct from websites like YouTube.
4. Can easily create electronic forms to replace those paper ones.
5. Can create satisfaction surveys in no time.
6. Can easily create template from sites you create.
7. Can add the Office Document Templates you already have to any SharePoint. Document Library.
8. Can search any word in any document.
9. The way you can customise and filter views of data.
10. The way you easily update dropdown lists.

Second Ten Reasons for being the best in no particular order

1. Have won the top European trophy.
2. First ever winners of League Cup.
3. Where a founder member of the football league.
4. Made the Andy Gray, voice of Sky, famous.
5. Have played in every Premier League Season.
6. Director William McGregor founded the Football League.
7. Have won the double.
8. Hosted more FA Cup Semi Finals than any other ground.
9. Provided more England players (69 to date) than any other club.
10. The future King of England (Prince William), future Prime Minister (David Cameron) and Pike from Dad’s Army are all supporters.

Don’t forget to vote in the Andy Dale SharePoint Awards 2010 only two weeks left. Click Here

1 comment:

SharePoint Migration said...

Good to hear from a fellow SharePoint buff.I admire SharePoint for the visionary of Microsoft in engineering it with a lot of flexibilities and room for improvisations. Nice post and Cheers to Aston Villa!!!