It’s a common CIO objective these days, for SharePoint to be the launch pad, the one place where people go to do things. SharePoint 2010 has arrived with something of a vengeance. Like most Microsoft applications, the early releases were masterful marketing but a little lacking in substance – they looked great but were rather underwhelming once you got into the box. But SharePoint 2010 is the “must have” release. It’s feature rich, capable with significant volumes of content, cost effective to deploy and generally easy to use (there is plenty of web chatter to read around the hows and whys).
For the CIO then, it is becoming time to see SharePoint step beyond the typical IT centric and low value HR process footprint that has been the common story to date. SharePoint has become a viable framework to start delivering the “don’t make me go somewhere, just let me do something” experience for the full business. But can Microsoft justifiably claim that two of the key elements of business – content and process – can now be delivered from a single launch pad? No. The content piece is very well addressed – vast amounts of information and documents can be logged, tagged, searched, edited, audited and expired – all great stuff. But the process piece?
SharePoint 2010 does not deliver real world workflow – the sort of workflow that starts outside of SharePoint and reaches far beyond it but leverages its strength in content. The sort of workflow that goes in multiple directions, at the same time. The sort of workflow that is actually triggered by events or conditions rather than people or documents. The sort of workflow that integrates to other applications. The sort of workflow that has to gather multiple files and information together as a case. The sort of workflow that lets knowledge workers decide which steps are necessary in this particular process and in what order. The sort of workflow that lets you prove that the right activities have been completed by the right people at the right time. The sort of workflow that dynamically adjusts itself to respond to internal or external influences.
The sort of workflow that reflects the reality of how we fickle humans actually behave.