Previous posts in the BPOS series, covered:
I’ve come to the conclusion that using Online services is beneficial to the Small/Medium Business (SMB) space. What then is the cutoff point in the number of seats? It depends on the corporate policy. Do I have the financial and personnel resources to support an on-premise infrastructure of hardware, software, backup and recovery?
The immediate take-away from the trial is that for a five person shop, the licensing costs easily eliminates the out of pocket initial investment in the infrastructure to support a connected workforce.
Exchange Online supports mobile devices; eliminates all of the problems associated with individual pst files; provides the capability to connect through the web using Outlook Web Access as well as through the Outlook client installed on any number of computers. This capability makes it a hit among those people who work at home and in an office setting and experience all of the synchronization issues with POP3 or IMAP.
The Exchange feature alone is a compelling reason to use the service. Add to that the Exchange Calendaring feature and you have a solid hit! Include the Office Communicator 2007 client and Live Meeting and you have a real interconnected presence for all of your employees.
From my perspective, SharePoint is another story. I’ve found it difficult to get individuals to work collaboratively on a single project when it’s so much easier to email various versions of documents to the team. Not very efficient we all admit but take a look at reality and you’ll find that email has become the defacto personal database and a substitute for conversation.
I’ve seen individuals retrieve saved email messages for the attachments because they don’t know how to save them on their computer or in a share someplace. I’ve also seen individuals who have yet to discover the “New message” button. They continue to recycle old content with new. There may or may not be a revised subject line. I’m convinced that some people reuse messages because they have not discovered the “address book.” Sorry for the rant.
Eventually something gets done – it always seems to get done and the next iteration merely reinforces the problem since nothing, training, technology, collaboration, policy / procedure changes in the dynamic.
I’ve also found it difficult for people to work in a domain environment with a traditional file share for any number of reasons: training on the technology as well as establishing and enforcing a protocol for carrying out the collaborative tasks. While SharePoint is billed as user friendly, from my experience, few users are able to establish and maintain a site. If they do establish one, the novelty wears off soon as contributors become frustrated and go back to the old, “simpler” ways of doing things.
With assistance from a solution provider or consultant with experience in successful engagements, SharePoint can become a very effective collaborative solution.
So I would say three out of four services – definitely! You just can’t beat the price.
Please feel free to comment. Your opinion and experiences are most welcome.This posting is provided “as is” with no warranties, guaranties or any rights whatsoever. All content is based on the author’s experiences and opinions and is not intended to influence the actions of the reader.