SharePoint-based solutions meet the needs of companies in terms of content management, communication and collaboration well, leading users to often think that the possibilities of SharePoint are limitless. In other cases, even after massive customization, using SharePoint remains impractical, as the platform is easily outperformed by specialized solutions.
In this article, we discuss enterprise applications in terms of the suitability of SharePoint for building them.
Below are three groups: friendly, conditionally friendly, and downright unfriendly to SharePoint.
Use cases supported by SharePoint
The out-of-the-box functionality of the platform is rarely sufficient to create efficient solutions. To meet most business needs, SharePoint requires configuration or customization, but not much. These use cases include:
The platform ensures easy creation, secure storage, fast search and retrieval of all types of documents, including 3D models and files with unusual extensions (.odt, .ods, .xlsb, etc.). Features like enterprise search, real-time collaboration, and automated workflows help businesses increase productivity. Integration with OCR and signature software enables the platform to ensure full automation of the document lifecycle, from scanning a paper document to signing and archiving. Optionally, SharePoint can be integrated with enterprise systems such as CRM and ERP to help a company maintain business continuity and avoid duplication of documents in the digital environment.
The platform is well suited for creating beautiful, easy-to-use and powerful collaboration solutions with communication and productivity tools, employee profiles, messaging and other features. Through team sites, SharePoint provides isolated collaboration spaces for units in an organization. There they can work on projects, share files and knowledge, schedule meetings, start discussions and much more. SharePoint Online intranet functionality can be extended through integration with Office 365 applications such as Teams, Yammer, and others.SharePoint also provides several social features for intranets, including gamification components, communities, and media galleries that help increase employee engagement and motivation.
Knowledge management systems (KMS)
SharePoint can be used to create a simple wiki-based knowledge base or a robust knowledge management solution with a well-defined structure where multiple sites and sub-sites are dedicated to a specific knowledge area. The platform offers advanced search capabilities that allow users to easily find specific content to solve a specific problem. With SharePoint, you can search for content by file name, keyword, and metadata, and sort search results by relevance. When enriched with AI, the platform can extract text from images and video files and make them searchable. In a SharePoint-based KMS, users can not only submit or view content through blogs, catalogs, and manuals, but also start discussions through discussion boards, forums, and comments.
Learning management systems (LMS)
SharePoint is good for creating, storing, and presenting learning content, including images and videos. It provides mechanisms for assessing knowledge, such as tests and quizzes, as well as polls to help gather feedback from students. SharePoint is a popular platform for micro training because it lends itself to creating small learning content that people can learn on the go using their mobile devices.
HR management systems (HRS)
SharePoint helps automate HR processes and procedures, including recruiting, onboarding, enrolling in professional training, learning about company policies, and more. SharePoint facilitates various administrative activities of a human resources team, e.g. For example, planning and approving vacations, approving employment contracts, managing payroll, managing shifts, and reporting sick leave. In addition, SharePoint offers tools for employee performance appraisal, certification and competency analysis.
Conditionally friendly use cases
Building robust SharePoint solutions for the following use cases requires extensive customization and integration.
When it comes to project management, SharePoint has many competitors. But the platform lets you take advantage of the Office 365 suite, which offers specialized project management tools like Planner, Project Online, and ToDo. And SharePoint itself offers several relevant features:
- SharePoint task lists. This tool allows you to create tasks and view them on a project timeline. Also, users can manage (e.g. assign) tasks and view them in different views (e.g. Gantt charts). Customization allows you to stitch multiple timelines together and enable reporting, which is a must for large projects.
- SharePoint project site. A project site allows users to communicate, collaborate on documents, post messages, and more. It also offers team calendars, a project documentation repository, and task tracking web parts.
With minor customization, you can use SharePoint to create request forms, attach files and signatures to a ticket, tag employees, prioritize tickets, and more. This functionality is sufficient for simple ticketing, for example ordering office supplies. With extensive customization, the platform can allow users to merge, group, reassign and forward tickets, automatically generate notifications of new tickets, ticket changes, SLA breaches and more. Regulated industries like healthcare and finance that prioritize data security typically opt for such advanced ticketing capabilities.
SharePoint non-friendly use cases
This group brings together use cases that are too complex for the platform without mass customizations, and specialized solutions still work much better in these situations.
Website content management
The SharePoint UI is not designed to make sites public. It is not easy to use and requires a lot of development work. And while there are successful examples of SharePoint-based sites, they are typically owned by large companies with large budgets and extensive internal use of the platform. The case is so unpopular that Microsoft even ended support for SharePoint sites in the cloud. However, the situation may change in the future. The SharePoint home sites announced this year follow the logic of public sites. Coupled with the modern user experience, they can help bring SharePoint site development back.
SharePoint lacks the relevant functionality to build a successful business system like CRM or ERP. For example, SharePoint cannot create multiple data relationships (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many) by default compared to Microsoft. Dynamics 365, which is fundamental to both CRM and ERP. To meet the needs of business systems, SharePoint-based solutions require complex, time-consuming, and expensive customization. And it doesn’t make sense as there are many specialized cloud-based solutions that are cheaper and easier to implement. In addition, highly customized SharePoint solutions require continuous post-deployment optimization and support, which also incurs additional costs.
Considering SharePoint for your business application?
Before you decide to implement a solution in SharePoint, get comprehensive advice from our experts. Our team will analyze your business needs, infrastructure and budget, map it to SharePoint capabilities and decide if the platform is the right choice for you.