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Change Management, Governance, and Added-Value with 3rd Party SharePoint Tools

By Hanne Spruyt & Vincent Caruana (Sharegate), Feb 21st 2017
We try to build up valuable partnerships with organisations that we believe bring benefit both to us and our customers. These organisations are typically specialists in technical areas that we chose not to invest in, they provide us with the tools to make our work better and more efficient while also creating added value for our customers. One of these partners is Sharegate, they create software that makes migrating and governing your SharePoint easier. This is a much needed commodity, now that more and more SharePoint versions are out there, wanting upgrades while the environments have become of substantial size and complexity, needing proper management. 
In their guest blog post, they enlight us about some very familiar strengths and issues that organisations encounter with SharePoint and how one could tackle those.

Change Management, Governance, and Added-Value with 3rd Party SharePoint Tools

To paraphrase the popular expression about IBM; “no one ever got fired for buying SharePoint”. Microsoft’s enterprise content management system is a staple of modern business and is reportedly used at 80% of Fortune 500 companies. A huge number of companies (over 200,000 according to Jeff Teper) of all sizes use SharePoint in some way, and most information workers will have come across it at some point. The problem, however, is that while no-one’s going to fire you for buying SharePoint—it’s safe and technically dependable—SharePoint deployments often end up being SharePoint disappointments. 
 
Research by information management consultants AIIM found that a third of organizations feel their SharePoint project struggled and 26% feel the project has stalled entirely. What’s going on? Why does such a widely-used platform have so many problems with adoption and usage? And, most importantly, what can you do to ensure SharePoint works well for you?

SharePoint’s strength is its weakness

At Sharegate, we love SharePoint—it’s versatile, flexible, secure and can be adapted to the needs of practically any business. But, we also recognize that this flexibility is, in some ways, its downfall. Microsoft wanted to build a platform that could work for literally any kind of organization, but this also means that you have to really stretch it to fit around the specific needs of many companies. As a result, when you try and apply it in different situations, the platform can sometimes struggle to adapt to the reality of your business. And this is the reason why, all too often, employees give up with SharePoint. 

 

To put it another way, there are several gaps in SharePoint where the platform may fail to fully adapt to the needs of a business. And this is where third parties come into play. 


Filling the gaps

There are multiple areas where SharePoint can be extended and enhanced using the apps and services of third party providers. Let’s explore some of the major areas where SharePoint ‘out of the box’ is somewhat lacking and show how these products and services fill that gap.


Administration

SharePoint administration is essential for keeping your environment safe and secure without making it a drag for your users. Without consistent administration, SharePoint can become chaotic and disorganized. 

 

The problem with SharePoint’s out-of-the-box administration tools is that they’re sometimes a little… well … clunky. While you still have full control to manage and clean up your environment using the out-of-the-box tools, it takes a long time to really get admin tasks completed. For instance, changing metadata on a large number of items can be dreadfully slow and time-consuming—it often depends on the slow and painful updating of Excel spreadsheets. 

 

A third party tool can help here by giving you a more unified interface where you can get a clearer overview of what’s going on, and manage your environment with greater clarity. 


Migration

Moving your business to the latest version of SharePoint—or even Office 365—means you can access all the latest improvements to the platform. However, while you can use Microsoft’s own migration tool, you will need a significant amount of technical expertise or else risk a lot of downtime. 

 

Third party tools are very useful here. Migration tools take all the ‘heavy lifting’ of a migration out of your hands, providing a simple way to get data from your old environment while preserving the structure of your content and your metadata. Again, while it is of course possible to complete a migration using only Microsoft’s tools, you will also need a lot more time and technical knowledge to do this (and there’s no one to help you if it all goes wrong).


Many organizations use SharePoint to store sensitive and valuable data about their customers and contacts. As long as SharePoint is set up correctly and permissions are applied correctly to users and the SharePoint sites they visit, all that information will be protected. If you are visited by an auditor who wants to check whether you are storing private customer data securely, they will be satisfied. 

 

But here’s the problem: managing permissions and access to Sites and customer information in SharePoint is difficult and the structure is easy to damage. A simple mistake can break your permissions inheritance and mean valuable customer data can be seen by anyone in the business and even be shared externally.  

 

Third party tools are designed to help you get much better control and visibility over what’s happening in your SharePoint environment. They can help you identify broken inheritance and alert you to any suspicious activity. This ensures you don’t accidentally break any compliance or information governance regulations. 


Change management—the human factor

All too often, organizations think of SharePoint as an IT problem. And this means, in many cases, all solutions to SharePoint’s limitations are dealt with by using technical solutions. While tools and third party add-ins obviously help a lot, they aren’t the whole solution. SharePoint is used by people, and therefore they need to learn to understand how to use the platform in a way that works for them. 
 
By using a third party consultancy who can help with training and implementing the platform in a way that is right for you, you can draw on years of experience from a provider who has worked on a problem like yours before. They can help with best practice for deployment of SharePoint as well as third-party add-ins. Further, they can also help with giving you guidance on best practice to deploy your platform and get the most out of it. For instance, LoQutus, one of our partners in Belgium, help their clients get the most out of SharePoint by using the latest cutting-edge tools to extend and enhance the platform, while also offering training and advice to their customers.  

Don’t get fired for buying SharePoint

While you might not get fired for buying SharePoint, you might get some frustrated board members and colleagues asking why usage and adoption aren’t as high as expected. By extending and enhancing your platform with powerful third-party apps and services, you can help make sure your SharePoint deployment is celebrated, not cursed.



We are happy to have strong and meaningful partnership with Sharegate and are convinced that their added value will continue to drive user adoption and alleviate administration burdens. Read more on their website and follow their very educational blog.

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