What is SharePoint? When I’m teaching people about SharePoint (whether they’ve just got us in for training or we’re doing the training as part of a large implementation for a client) I start by asking them “What is SharePoint?” OK, so I should know the answer, and I do, but I want to know what they’re thinking.
The usual answers look a bit like this:
But what my clients have done is tell me what they think SharePoint can do. They aren’t really wrong because SharePoint can do all of these things, but they didn’t tell me what it actually is.
So, get to the point Jason, tell us, what is SharePoint?
SharePoint is like Lego!
OK, so you were expecting me to say an intranet system, a document management system, a search engine, database, business intelligence platform, some hazy words about collaboration and project management. These are all things SharePoint can do, and do very well.
Lego? Yes, think about it, inside the big bright blue box is a lot of bricks that are different shapes and sizes, different colours and are used for different things. Part of the key to it though is know what the different bricks do and how to use them well. But one of the best things that make SharePoint better than Lego, is that you cannot run out of bricks! If you need another brick, just tell SharePoint and it will create it for you! I wish I had Lego like that when I was younger!
You’ve also got to know what bricks are in the box, if you don’t know then how do you know what to use? It’s possibly the most common mistake we see when conducting a health check for new clients, they don’t take enough time to see what bricks are in the box, to understand what SharePoint can do for them. As a result, they might spend money on a 3rd party tool, or do some costly and often unnecessary development with visual studio.
So, hopefully it’s all making sense. SharePoint is a bit like a bottomless box of Lego with lots of cool bricks that help you deliver real business benefits to your users? Yes, but there’s one more thing. You’ve got to figure out how the bricks fit together to build what you need. Before that, you’ve got to work out what it is you want to build and for that you need to understand your business goals and objectives. That’s where we can help a lot. We believe in talking in business terms to understand your needs and sometimes to help you understand too! We then translate that into the bricks that we need to use, yes sometimes our inner geek comes out, but not often! But, the key ingredient with the building blocks is knowing how they fit together, how they can be adapted as your business grows and understanding what bricks will be available in the future.
So what is SharePoint?
It’s a business platform that’s a bit like a box of Lego. You can use your imagination to build any business solution that you need with the right bricks and know how to make it easy to use and efficient.
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