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Four Takeaways from Expert Panel on SharePoint, Content, and Records Management

Today, I wanted to give you a quick recap of some of the more interesting tidbits that fell out of an AIIM New England/ARMA Boston joint meeting I was part of yesterday on the subject of SharePoint, content, and records management.

SharePoint, of course, is either everybody’s favorite platform or the market’s most reviled content and records repository ever. Brought to you by the same people who gave you the dancing paperclip, Windows Vista, and the Xbox gaming system – that would be Microsoft, of course – the product at this point is more than 10 years old, and it’s amazing to me how even the mention of its name is enough to pack a room with questions. I mean, given how long it’s been around, you would think that most of the introductory knowledge gaps would have been filled a long time ago, but clearly they have not.

The thrust of yesterday’s session – titled “SharePoint: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” – was “what comes out of the box, and what do you need to add on, to make it do all it’s reputed to do?” The three panelists were Russ Edelman of Corridor Consulting, Sue Gibbons of GimmalSoft, and Dan Antion of American Nuclear Insurers, and it was fascinating to hear their different perspectives.

In no particular order, here are four especially intriguing takeaways from the conversation:

• There are two cornerstones to the successful application of SharePoint to content and records management: the use of its ability to define content types, and the use of well-crafted metadata. Support for the latter, however, is not one of the product’s native strengths, though building it out is not especially onerous.

• Two of the most troubling shortcomings “out of the box” have to do with suitably detailed reporting and any sort of smooth integration with Microsoft Exchange. Not that you can’t get reports out of SharePoint, but there seem to be consensus that this is a function better provided by SQL Server, which has to be present in order for SharePoint to hum … And no one really had any idea why two products as important to Microsoft as SharePoint and Exchange would be so difficult to plug together.

• There was a dead-even split in the opinions regarding whether it is better to manage records in place or use a records center approach. Perhaps not surprisingly, the consensus opinion turned out to be more of an “it depends” kind of thing, though the panelists had distinct preferences.

• At the end of the day, there is no getting around that success in the SharePoint arena is directly tied to user adoption and behavior change management. I have always said that information management in general is more a function of psychology than technology, and clearly that was the prevailing view of the experts on hand.

What are your thoughts? Our inquiring minds would like to know.

Going to San Francisco for the AIIM 2012 conference? I’ll be there too, so let me know if you’d like to meet up: call/text to 617-383-4655 … email

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