4 reasons why life hacks and SharePoint don’t mix


I’ve always been a fan of life hacks. These techniques – often brilliant ways to save time and money – take ordinary things and transform them for new uses.

For instance, have you ever thought to use a can opener to cut through the hard plastic packaging on electronic devices? What about using a basic power plug as a flathead screwdriver?

Ikea even has a site dedicated to hacking its products. Who knew you could transform shelves into an air outlet for an HVAC system? Or bedroom drawers into a bathroom cabinet?

While I’m all for finding new ways to use what you already own, I also respect that some things should only be used for their intended purpose(s).

For example, you shouldn’t use floss to cut a cake. It provides little to no resistance – why not use a knife to easily accomplish the same task? It’s like wrapping tape around a fork so you can eat soup. Instead of going through the hassle, why not just head over to the kitchen drawer for a spoon?

Don’t duct tape your systems together

The same thought process rings true for Microsoft® SharePoint®. Just because the software can do something, doesn’t mean it’s worth your time, money and effort. Don’t get me wrong, I use it often in my daily work routines. It’s a great tool for collaboration and project management.

But when it comes to scaling SharePoint to meet larger business needs – like document and records management as well as workflow management – I caution companies to do their research.

These capabilities are the foundation of an enterprise content management (ECM) platform.

Is leveraging SharePoint for these areas really worth it? Not if you’re looking for a strong return on investment. While SharePoint provides the ability to import files as well as some workflow for business process improvements, it’s not designed to handle information in a controlled environment for the long-term – from data capture all the way to record disposition.

4 reasons for using ECM

Here are my top four reasons why organizations should utilize ECM for their document management and workflow needs rather than SharePoint:

1. SharePoint functionality only extends so far.

Although SharePoint can import files, what if you decide desktop scanning is best suited for your organization? That will require partnering with another vendor that focuses specifically on that functionality.

Want to add barcode recognition software to the mix? Yet another vendor may be required.

The same is true for a variety of other functionality. From backfile conversions to electronic signature capture and image-enabling of other applications, each feature will require separate vendors to add this technology to your existing SharePoint system.

That’s not the case with an ECM platform. Using only one system, an ECM solution can incorporate a variety of features and functionality – from capture and case management to mobile abilities and enterprise application integrations – all while eliminating the need to work with multiple vendors.

Not only will this drive down costs (think about paying one vendor vs. multiple), but it will also eliminate the next business pain.

2. More vendors = slower production.

The more vendors involved, the longer it takes to deploy solutions. In addition to the time it takes to negotiate contracts and finally sign the dotted line, it also takes time to get these disparate products to work together.

That’s not the case with ECM. Because all functionality is natively baked into the product, you can rapidly building solutions.

3. Multiple products require multiple communication methods.

Integrating multiple systems with SharePoint is no easy task. It will require your IT department to write custom code for the systems to talk to each other.

ECM systems eliminate this timely task, providing your IT staff with a point-and-click configurable platform that’s easy to build on. Take United Biscuits, for example. In less than a day, the company was able to create an API-level integration between its ECM and back-end systems.

4. Upgrades are an even bigger hassle.

Upgrades are a fact of life. Think of the impact they will have on your IT staff when it involves upgrading SharePoint as well as all of the products/components bolted onto it. The logistics involved are an IT nightmare.

That’s not the case with an ECM system. Upgrades are much easier because you only have one system in place.

Although ECM and SharePoint both have their own separate advantages, the real power comes into play when you integrate the two. That way, you get the best of both worlds – an ECM platform that offers robust workflow and document management abilities combined with SharePoint’s collaboration and management features.

Now that’s a life hack I can get behind.

Katie Alberti has expertise in content services platforms and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.
Katie Alberti

Katie Alberti

Katie Alberti has expertise in content services platforms and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.

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