Surveys around SharePoint indicate that customers want a higher business value from the software than document storage and collaboration. While not intending to minimize the positive impacts for business of those capabilities, businesses seem to want to derive actionable information from the content they store in SharePoint; they want more of their workers to use the software; and they want to know how SharePoint is helping the corporate bottom line, beyond the return on their SharePoint investment. So, how does SharePoint become this functional system, where people actually work and create value?

It starts with a business plan. Before the company even purchases a SharePoint license, it must begin to create plan for its use. At first, the plan might be simple document storage, management and collaboration. Then, after all stakeholders have worked with it for a while, a company would be wise to reconvene its SharePoint management team to discuss the next course of action, examine what has been gained from the earliest, simplest implementation, and what it wants to achieve next. Perhaps it’s better taxonomies and the creation of metadata. Perhaps it’s the creation of workflows, then the creation of an outward-facing website that ties customer interaction in with the SharePoint’s back end of forms and workflows.

The key to all this is good governance and a strong management plan. Along with all this, of course, you want to be able to measure your success. That introduces business intelligence—something SharePoint is particularly good at when paired with Performance Point and Excel service for creating dashboards.

To derive the best business value from that, organizations should create use cases that clearly state what business intelligence will be used for and what information the higher-ups wish to see. The benefits of business intelligence grow exponentially along with the amount of content being stored in SharePoint, for the more content that must be sifted through, the more valuable tools that can pinpoint specific documents, authors, e-mail threads, PowerPoint slides and more become.

*     *     *

Business intelligence expert Peter Serzo of High Monkey Consulting, and Eric Riz of Concatenate, will impart their knowledge of business intelligence and deriving business value from SharePoint, respectively, at SPTechCon, March 3-6, in San Francisco. Peter will present a full-day workshop on business intelligence, while Eric will deliver a half-day session on requirements.