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SharePoint’s Business Value: What is SharePoint’s Return on Investment (ROI)

By Errin O’Connor, Founder & CEO, EPC Group

Whether your organization already has an existing SharePoint implementation in place, or you are pursuing a new implementation, the overall strategy of a successful SharePoint 2007 deployment needs to be approached in a very unique manner.

SharePoint 2007, (Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS) and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS), offers a broad array of solutions. To properly discern the solutions you are looking for – and subsequently, the platform you need – you must first step back and take a look at the big picture. Ask yourself: “What do I need this platform to deliver, from a business perspective?” This process helps you understand what your concrete goals are, and how these goals will add true business value to the organization. Something I do diligently is work with our client’s IT staff and executive teams to discern where SharePoint can add tangible, measurable value. Can it replace other existing systems? Are there software licensing costs associated with disparate legacy systems that can be saved through the implementation of SharePoint? What technologies is the organization utilizing for Enterprise Content Management, web-based collaboration, and the company Intranet? Can these technologies be replaced by SharePoint at less cost and with better results?

Part of this process involves the development of a SharePoint ‘Business-Value Case’ or ‘Road Map’ for your organization.

I always wonder why a given organization would spend $2 – 3M yearly for licensing and maintenance costs on a Documentum or LiveLink environment that is user-unfriendly, hard to customize and significantly more expensive than a SharePoint Enterprise Content Management solution. Even though I am a somewhat biased SharePoint consultant, this baffles me on a daily basis. After two years, the organization would have spent $4 million on a Documentum or LiveLink environment, but still $500,000 on a SharePoint ECM solution. I would not just throw numbers out there like this if I hadn’t literally seen this over and over again. That is real business value and cost savings within your organization.

Why does this happen at organizations all over the country? In truth, it is not management, or even the executive sponsor’s fault, considering Microsoft did not offer much in the way of ‘dynamic functionality’ with their SharePoint 2003 release, and these costly ‘500 pound gorilla’ solutions were really all that was available. Thankfully, that is not the case anymore, and now it’s time to start seriously considering SharePoint 2007 as a means to cost savings and adding value to your organization.

SharePoint 2007 delivers a level of ease and functionality (specifically with regard to adding custom workflows and automating business processes) that are not approached by other solutions. Supplement these functionalities with the potential business value of utilizing an external security model to your SharePoint 2007 implementation – to open the platform to partners, customers, vendors, or employees from other business units – and you really start seeing some potential. With SharePoint 2007, you can have one software platform, support skill set, physical hardware model, backup and disaster recovery solution, and governed ‘look and feel’ that can replace so many costly and disparate solutions that it quickly makes real business sense and can actually add to your organization’s bottom line.

How to View SharePoint? Dashboards, KPIs, and Reporting
Quick wins for the business will not only garner additional support for your overall initiative, but will help spawn new ideas and solutions that will add business value to your organization. SharePoint 2007’s dashboards (or KPIs) can deliver end-users a holistic view of the environment, allowing them to make quick decisions based on key-indicators that can swiftly add to the bottom line and prevent costly risks or mistakes.

During your decision-making process with regard to platforms, I would recommend pursing a ‘proof-of-concept’ for one department or business unit within your organization. This process lets you test out functionalities and gauge value.

Additionally, many organizations already invested in Business Objects or other enterprise reporting platforms have not yet initiated SQL Reporting Services (SRS) and its integration capabilities with SharePoint. The potent reporting capabilities that can be achieved with SRS allow for the generation of reports from both data residing in SharePoint and from external data sources.

In summary, we can achieve:
- An enterprise content management system (ECM)
- A business process automation platform
- A knowledge management solution
- An externally accessible environment

With SharePoint 2007, your organization can also achieve:
- An enterprise intranet solution
- Executive dashboards and KPI’s
- A centralized enterprise reporting platform
- A centralized (SharePoint) governance model that will support all the solutions listed above

Remember, always plan the design and implementation of your SharePoint platform as truly a ‘service’ to your organization. SharePoint typically becomes very popular, very quickly. Due to these phenomena, developing a reliable, highly scalable and truly indestructible platform is extremely critical.

Errin O’Connor is Founder and Chief Executive Officer for EPC Group. He focuses his efforts on implementing Microsoft Technologies in organizations throughout the country. Errin also manages EPC Group’s corporate strategy as well as architects the proven methodologies around collaboration, enterprise content management and custom application development that have set EPC Group apart from its competitors. He is the author of “Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Inside Out” by Microsoft Press. Errin has completed more than 83 highly successful individual SharePoint implementations and has worked with some of the largest organizations in the United States. For Article Feedback, contact Errin at errino@epcgroup.net 

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