Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sharepoint 2007 - Top 5 of What Businesses Want

In playing with Sharepoint 2007 in the past couple of months I thought I’d summarise some of the new features that I think will have the most impact on what businesses want or will want when 2007 gets released later this year.

1. Workflow
Here I go beating the workflow drum again but this will be huge for all those thirsty businesses who’ve been deprived of workflow.
Workflow is an overloaded term, but for most businesses it’s the simple workflows that should require simple, cheap solutions. Sounds fair, but most 3rd party workflow solutions don’t cater for the Small to Medium sized businesses hence there’s no ROI for most businesses to invest in with Sharepoint. The answer in sharepoint 2007 is with the Sharepoint Designer (formally frontpage). A non-developers favourite application with SP 2003 has been loaded with some Workflow muscle for 2007.
Some of the workflow tasks you can create are,

  • Email routing
  • Create a Task
  • Manager approval
  • Time based escalations
  • List or Document updates
  • Workflow integration into Office 2007

Whilst the out of the box workflow tasks won’t handle all scenarios for businesses it provides a base through the Workflow Foundation to extend into the complex workflow requirements through custom code or 3rd party workflows. So finally MS have come up with an answer to those common workflows all businesses have like expense claims, timesheets, leave requests – you know all the standard ones...

2. Document & Content Management
Big improvements here will mean that Sharepoint will pound for pound, compete with document management and content management products. In 2007, Content Management Server (CMS) has merged into the Sharepoint product line bringing all the good CMS features whilst leaving behind all the inherent problems CMS had with searching, workflow & templates.
On the document management side, Sharepoint has always had tagging, check in/out, versioning, alerts and content approval – the standard features for a document management app which meant it was a good lightweight document store.
Now add the new features like,

  • Item Level permissions on files,
  • Workflow and standards through Content Types,
  • More powerful alerts and RSS feeds for communication,
  • Recycle Bin
  • More powerful searching
  • More robust versioning
  • Workflow integration into Office 2007,

There’s some serious upgrades here with I think the jewel in the crown is content types which needs an entire post on its own.

3. Mobility
Mobile views will again bridge the gap between the remote users wanting access to the corporate data. MOSS will allow mobile views on all lists and libraries – a great new feature.

Also in a tactical acquisition by Microsoft is Groove Virtual Office, set to become part of the Office 2007 Professional suite. Groove will allow virtual workspaces as well as integrating into existing Sharepoint ones. We’re using them with gusto here which mainly appeals to me and my train trips home – Groove gives me offline access to my Sharepoint sites and sync’s back for me when I get online. Whilst I don’t think Groove will set the world on fire as it appeals to a niche market, it does cover some scenario’s – which give business’s more options.

4. Webforms
Synonymous with workflow but the ability to design rich forms in Infopath and publish them to a webform using Forms Server will open up the scenarios of business automation. Even internally Infopath was an issue with the requirement to have Infopath installed just to fill out a form – this just won’t cut the mustard for a lot of businesses so MS are moving in the right direction here and Infopath should flourish with Sharepoint and Forms server.

5. Communication
RSS lists and Wiki’s are new to 2007, whilst alerts have been improved from their basic (add/edit/delete) to allow alerts on views – essentially giving the user any type of filter they need.But I think RSS could have the most bearing on businesses in the next couple of years as businesses realise its value. If you ask any blog reader and they’ll attest to what RSS enables them to get for their chosen interest. “I don’t find information, it finds me”Apply this internally to a business and you’re giving knowledge workers and managers a standard medium to know what’s happening in their company.

1 comment:

md_miller said...

Nice post. Stated very well for non-technical buyers so they know the business benefit that comes with MOSS. Well done.