Is SharePoint good for ECM?

SharePoint

It seems this is prevalent throughout the IT circles of larger companies (and even government). But, I’m mostly basing these comments on my own experience in the last three years or so. For some reason, many companies (mostly larger ones) don’t really consider SharePoint a good ECM platform. In fact, even some SharePoint administrators are dismissive of it’s ECM capabilities. Perhaps there’s been a quiet campaign against labeling SharePoint as an ECM platform or perhaps its just tough to leave the perception of SharePoint 2001 & 2003 behind.

So, let’s take a look at some recent developments. First, what prompted me to write this article was the latest Gartner report: Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management. Over the past few years SharePoint has been inching up the scales and here’s where we stand today:

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Yes, news was buzzing that “Microsoft overtakes IBM in ECM MQ, WCM MQ, Horizontal Portals and Social Software for Workplace” all week. Products like Documentum (from EMC) and WebSphere (from IBM) have long been leaders however, I can’t remember when either was a leader in all four categories above. Microsoft has done an excellent job of maturing SharePoint while IBM and others like Oracle, have done a very poor job of integrating their acquisitions to compete.

For most companies, even the larger ones who truly have a need for ECM, I think SharePoint does the job well. Sure, Documentum or WebSphere may have a fancy feature that SharePoint can’t deliver out of the box. This is where the true power of SharePoint comes in. SharePoint is a development platform so you could certainly add the needed functionality through custom code or a third party tool. The SharePoint ecosystem is wide and strong. I always refer to http://www.sharepointreviews.com for new or niche products to take a SharePoint feature to the next level. Even no code solutions exists, its simply a matter of creativity and discovery. For a recent example, take a look at Corey Roth’s (@coreyroth) article: Spice up Your ECM with Ratings.

When we talk about ECM, we’re really talking about large amounts of data. So another trend of late is to outsource the hosting of that data: Cloud. I think Microsoft has a solid cloud platform (Office365) and it’s hard for others to really compete there. In my previous article, How Do The SharePoint Alternatives Stack Up?, I pointed at Google Apps as the cloud play. But as I point out in that article, Google is not really ready for enterprise. In fact, there are many stories of companies switching from Google to Microsoft (like this one, this one, and this one).

Companies large and small are now using SharePoint to increase productivity and enable their workforce. I encourage companies large and small to take a look at what their competitors are doing by heading over to http://www.topsharepoint.com. This site primarily shows public sites, but you can be sure that most of these companies switched their internal sites (ECM/Intranet) to SharePoint first and then went public (WCM).

To learn more about SharePoint’s ECM capabilities, visit these resources:

SharePoint 2010 Brings ECM for the Masses

Microsoft ECM Team Blog

Microsoft SharePoint Capabilities: Content

MSDN – What’s New: ECM

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