I was speaking at an AIIM conference in Chicago yesterday (http://www.aiim.org/ecmseminar/). The topic of my talk was how traditional ECM systems add value to SharePoint. I rambled on about all of the value adds and at the end, someone asked me how they would know whether SharePoint was good enough as-is or whether they needed to supplement it with an ECM system. I thought that this was a great question…
The answer might be, “if you do not know whether you need one then you probably don’t” but the answer is more accurately “if you do not know whether you need one then you probably don’t…yet”. If you are a small company rolling out SharePoint, or a large company doing a limited pilot then you are probably doing a great job managing the process. There may come a time however when you will start to think about long-term archiving of that content or retention management. IT might want to start to implement HSM or to de-duplicate the content. You might want to start to intelligently retain version information, etc…
My answer at the conference was to say that if everything was ticking along nicely today then you are probably OK but what you absolutely should do is think about the future aggregation and intelligent management of those sites today. Here’s the deal…would you allow each department in your organization to roll out their own Microsoft Exchange mail server with its own domain and their own email addresses? Of course not because any future reconciliation of those systems would be a nightmare. Then treat your SharePoint implementations in the same way. I told audience to assume that they would bring the systems together in the future and to that end they should do a few simple things:
· Make sure that there are no maverick deployments of SharePoint in the organization. All SharePoint sites have to be managed by IT – no exceptions.
· Make sure that the user identity management is common across all sites, (probably the most important one.)
· Whenever possible manage the creation of object types especially ensuring that common attributes have the same name and draw their values from a common domain list, (don’t have a project number represented in one site as Proj_# and in another as ProjectNo and certainly don’t make them free text fields!)
· Consider how you would aggregate the sites moving forwards…is there anything else that you might be able to do to make this easier moving forwards?
Here’s a cast iron Chapman guarantee. If you follow the steps above you will reap the rewards even if you never aggregate the content or work with a traditional ECM system. Don’t believe me? Just consider how much easier eDiscovery would be if you followed the steps above? Need to find all of the drivel that Andrew Chapman wrote? If I have the same user identity in all SharePoint instances then that just became a lot easier.