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Mark Rackley

A New Commitment to Microsoft SharePoint

A New Commitment to Microsoft SharePoint

As I mentioned my last article The Future of SharePoint – My Verdict, I had the honor of attending the Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco. At the event, I was able to get a sneak peak of where Microsoft is headed with SharePoint. If you didn’t get a chance to read the article, I gave my insight on Microsoft’s renewed commitment to SharePoint, along with some great links to resources and what others in the community are saying about the future of SharePoint.

The below article further explains the direction of SharePoint based on what was shared at another SharePoint event - SharePoint Saturday Nashville on May 14, 2016.

Evidence of a new commitment to SharePoint came when Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President for OneDrive and SharePoint, stopped by SharePoint Saturday Nashville to very candidly answer questions about SharePoint. Here are some highlights of Microsoft’s very transparent commitment to the future of SharePoint.

The Future of SharePoint On-Premises

As stated in the “The Future of SharePoint” keynote, Microsoft has heard their users and are committed to on-premises. It was even stated there would be another release of SharePoint on-premises. Microsoft has also explained that on-premises SharePoint 2016 deployments will get online functionality in Feature Packs starting in 2017. Jeff stated that Microsoft hopes to be able to announce a more definitive timeline for those feature packs at Ignite this year.

The Future of Add-ins

There was a discussion about some of the angst ISV’s were experiencing with the announcement of the SharePoint Framework and Jeff noted that they could have done a better job at the Future of SharePoint event about pointing out that the Add-In model is not going anywhere. This is completely valid-- the whole point of the SharePoint Framework is that Microsoft was analyzing how we were developing functionality for SharePoint. The saw and heard how many of us were injecting script into pages using JS Link and Content Editor Web Parts. The SharePoint Framework is a direct result of Microsoft listening to us and making script development more manageable, controllable, and less likely to break the page. This is very positive news.

The Future of Yammer

Yammer is still alive and well, but that most of the changes lately have been behind the scenes integration, so there wasn’t really anything to “show” at the event. Jeff made mention of efforts to merge Yammer Groups and SharePoint Groups.

The Future of SharePoint Designer and InfoPath

When asked about the future of SharePoint Designer and InfoPath, Jeff stated that he sees PowerApps and Microsoft Flow replacing these technologies within a couple of years. He was very clear to state that they do not replace them today and that these tools have a way to go before they have the functionality of their predecessors. This is the first time we at Interlink have actually “heard” this so definitively from someone at Microsoft—we are elated to see that Microsoft has a plan.

The Future of Forms

When asked about customizing list forms from within the SharePoint UI, Jeff stated that PowerApps will be able to be used in the future within the SharePoint UI to launch forms for list items. He followed that up by stating PowerApps would likely never completely replace the functionality offered by third party forms tools like Nintex, K2, and StratusForms.

The Future of Microsoft Graph

There have been frustrations amongst our SharePoint developers that Microsoft Graph does not have full feature parity with the SharePoint REST API. When asked about the plans for Microsoft Graph to have the same features as the SharePoint REST API, Jeff stated that this was indeed the plan and they are working on it; however, their focus at the moment was WebHooks.

The Future of Branding

Another big concern we have for our clients and the new SharePoint Framework is the ability to brand sites effectively and to be able to deliver a “world class” design experience while still following the accepted patterns and practices of the new framework. Jeff explained that there will indeed be a railed branding experience for Team Sites. This makes sense as the new Team Sites need to work in the mobile application and we can’t expect to do whatever we want and still have them work in the app. Jeff also stated that if clients need a fully branded site they will still be able to do that using the Publishing template. We see a future with a lot of Intranet Home Pages created with Publishing templates linked to department sites created with Site Templates. Branding will be changing but is by no means dead.

Finally…

We have had a chance to reflect on the changes seen within Microsoft and the SharePoint product team the past few months, on the upcoming changes to SharePoint, on the transparency of Microsoft, their willingness to hear feedback (and criticism), their willingness to own mistakes, and their sudden embracing of the community. We just can’t seem to find anything to be negative about right now. With the efforts of Jeff Teper and team, Microsoft has built up a lot of good will. I’m willing to see where things are going. I feel like I’m being heard and I’m excited for the future. Have we drunk the Kool-Aid? We don’t think so. We just think Microsoft is finally getting it…

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Stephanie Donahue

Microsoft SharePoint - Proving a Return on Investment

microsoft sharepoint proving roi

Every day I speak to clients about how we can solve their communication and content challenges with Microsoft SharePoint. However, no matter how obvious it is that SharePoint can solve their issues, we still run into scenarios where we hear, “We think your team is great and we love your ideas, but we just don’t have the budget this year.” What do you do when you don’t have a budget? You prove the return on investment of Microsoft SharePoint.

No Budget

The challenging thing -- okay one of the challenging things -- about SharePoint is that it too often starts out in the IT budget because it’s considered company-wide software that everyone uses. In addition to not being allocated as part of everyone’s budget, SharePoint also has the issue of being tough to measure in terms of return on investment (ROI). Those of us who have been around SharePoint long enough know the value of what SharePoint can do, but we struggle to communicate how that translates into real money saved. Being frustrated with the no budget answer, I’ve been racking my brain on what the answer is to showing SharePoint’s true ROI. So, I decided to run through a series of recent scenarios I’ve heard about from clients, friends, and even personal experiences. What has been obvious is that it all comes back to communication. Problems stem from communication issues, and conveniently, SharePoint (and Yammer) fix those communication issues.

The ROI Challenge

You can’t estimate SharePoint ROI, or any content management system, in terms of dollars gained during a more efficient process. People are not a manufacturing plant where stats are kept on how much content or value is derived from a single action from a single person. However, what you can measure is the cost of mistakes. People are human and while some mistakes can be contributed to inexperience or a lapse in judgment, it’s more often related to a lack of communication. In some cases, communication can even overcome inexperience and bad judgment.

Think back through the last time your organization lost money on a deal, a new partnership, or a new product. How would effective communication have changed the situation?

Communication Issues Plague Organizations

Scenario 1: A client has a proposal sent out with unclear terms of engagement with a vendor. This client is now ‘on the hook’ for far more work than they should’ve been. Not to mention the initial projected time-frames for the work are now completely irrelevant. Had this proposal been put through a formal review process where the entire team knew about it (rather than it ‘hiding’ in email and file shares), the ambiguity could’ve been caught. Not simply because of a formal approval process being in place, but because of the visibility of the document to someone who may not be directly involved.

The cost: Extra time negotiating what can be accomplished in the contract, lower profit margin on the work, if there is a profit at all, and potential loss of client due to the possibility of expectations not being met.

Scenario 2: A survey was sent out to all users and the number one complaint was a lack of company-wide communication. Employees did not feel properly informed. This same client doesn’t have the budget for SharePoint this year. So they continue to use a home grown intranet application where a developer must provide announcement updates. This slows the time to share those updates and will likely prevent many from being shared in the first place.

The cost: Unlimited and depends on the organization

What is the cost of the lack of rapid communication across the organization?

  • What is the turnover cost of an employee who doesn’t feel engaged or informed and leaves the organization?
  • What is the cost of waiting on an email response only to find out after the person you’ve been waiting on for 3 days is the wrong person?
  • What is the cost of not properly communicating new safety procedures to field engineers on remote sites? Have you dealt with law suits this year?
  • What about health care benefits to those sitting at headquarters? How much time does HR spend explaining things that could be available in a forum or Q&A section?
  • What about new compliance policies to content managers? Have you been through a painful audit recently?

The visibility provided by the social communication channels provided in SharePoint (and also in Yammer) can transform the way an organization works. The speed at which information is communicated is directly tied to an organizations ability to adjust to rapid changes in the market, to the amount of income that can be generated with the same number of people, and most importantly tied to defining an efficient and effective corporate culture that spans many remote locations.

The next time you are faced with the ‘no budget for SharePoint’ problem, it may be time to start discussing the cost of poor communication. From there you should be able to start defining what your return on investment looks like.

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Welcome to the Interlink Cloud Blog

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations or warranties regarding the information from our partners or other external sources.