Recently we've seen two articles
about sharepoint as a CI tool. As well there were some discussions on this issue during recent workshop run by Aurora WDC (Intelligence 2.0 Clinic ) at annual SCIP conference in Chicago.
I do not consider myself an expert in CI software field but as I see more and more written and said on this topic maybe my small experience with this topic could help someone in their decision. My intention here is to share my own experience about this topic and I'm neither in favour of some specific CI software nor firmly against using sharepoint as CI tool. As this is my first post, I'll try to be short.
I managed a project of development and launch/implementation of CI software based on sharepoint at my previous employer. Important to consider is that we've done CI in this company for some time, the decision to do it with sharepoint was influenced by IT department mostly (could be a very long story), and an external party did the development.
Having this in mind, among others our key issues were:
- customize to make sharepoint (the menu) as user friendly as possible
- customize it to level we can include some CI analytical tools.
- making this the priority of external party.
Certainly, other issues are not to neglect (getting support and buy-in,…).
The decision was made by management at the end of 2006 and it was launched in begining of 2008. Real work on it from scratch to launch was cca 7-8 months.
We have done this in my opinion with a reasonable success. Some things that came up where mentioned in article “Can SharePoint 2007 Be Used To Assist CI?”
. For example automatic search alert functionality we spent a lot of time and effort on this and it would require a lot of programing time which was not there. Some issues mentioned in article were solved with customisation, for example we managed to categorize each entry in the calendar and included additional info and some other things as well.
From what I've seen from this experience I think that a lot of improvements and additions could be done in terms of CI process support. But I would agree with conclusion made in the article mentioned that indeed a lot of programming is required. Basic functionalities which are there are not enough (depends of course what your needs are).
Regarding information architecture issue mentioned in another article „Information Architecture: Why SharePoint 2007 Needs It“
, a study could be written on this. We involved heavily all relevant departments and came up with the taxonomy reflecting our general external information needs. I think it was a good exercise that help educate the others in the company at what we were up to do. In my opinion we slighlty „overdid“ it in terms of details. Also we had a customised tool supporting categorisation of information which worked pretty well. The key issue here again is how to make the taxonomy flexible and changeble without too much need to involve IT in it. Some of the issues mentioned in this article I can recognize (start small, prototype first, don't overcustomize,…) but again it depends a lot on each case, time, money, support, expectations etc.
To conclude, in my experience a lot could be done with sharepoint, but..... depending on your's company needs great amount of customisation could be needed. The question is now who will take care of this and who will update this if necessary few years from now? How much time you have for this, is your CI process functioning properly so that you can focus on developing your own CI system,.....?
At the end, even if you write down your requirements in details don't forget to have someone to translate your requirements to IT and vice-versa. They seem to have very different views on meaning of the words "information structure" :) . Not to forget than many iterations are needed to get it right.
But overall, with all issues involved it was a great experience developing a CI software tool.
Hope I helped