As IT leaders, CIOs and other executives evaluate their enterprise content management (ECM) and document management needs, there are a host of issues they should take into account. A fundamental component of an overall content management strategy relates to managing, controlling, sharing and collaborating on documents and related processes.
Specifically, organizations need to consider how SharePoint addresses their needs for searching, viewing, securing, routing, editing and tracking documents and document-driven processes, such as invoice processing or contract management, in addition to how that compares to other purpose-built document management solutions.
The free version of SharePoint (SharePoint Foundation) provides many of the tools a small business may need to implement basic team collaboration services. According to a 2010 ZDNet product review, “SharePoint Foundation uses SQL Server (or the free SQL Server Express), and requires very little administration. Using it with SQL Server Express also means that you can set up a single server collaboration instance for very little outlay — making Microsoft’s collaboration competitive with the open-source alternatives.”
But, depending on the business and its specific needs, this level of collaboration may not be enough: some important capabilities related to document management are not available “out of the box” with SharePoint Foundation, or they may only be offered in the more robust, paid SharePoint Server platform.
Since custom development and the paid version of SharePoint Server can be cost-prohibitive, many SMBs have turned to commercially-available purpose-built document management solutions to augment SharePoint. Certain types of businesses, particularly those in industries that consider document management to be one of their highest organizational priorities, are also looking beyond SharePoint for expanded capabilities, with regulatory compliance being one area where purpose-built solutions bring powerful out of the box functionality to the table.
In fact, there are alternative solutions that integrate easily with SharePoint from the get-go, without any special development required (such as M-Files). Moreover, these same solutions provide convenient access to their full range of document management capabilities directly within the SharePoint platform, making access to important documents and participation in workflows seamless and as easy for the user as point and click, or drag and drop – which can have a profound impact on successful company-wide adoption.
The recently-issued M-Files white paper, Empowering SharePoint Users with Purpose-Built Document Management , brings up the point that, for many organizations, it ultimately comes down to choosing between developing one’s own custom document management capabilities on SharePoint, or employing a solution that augments SharePoint with out-of-the-box features. In other words, do you want to invest your IT resources in boosting the capabilities of SharePoint in ways not addressed out of the box by the platform or the other enterprise systems you have in play, or simply turn to a purpose-built alternative that will help you quickly achieve your goals?