April 5 2011

What is Your Biggest Challenge?

Posted on the 08:05 am under Business by Darren Boyer

The Question – ‘What Is Your Biggest IT Challenge?’ was recently asked to over 180 Canadian organizations.  The results, just released by the IT Business.ca  website, revealed some striking information.  Almost 1/3 of Canadian Small to Medium Enterprises experience a major challenge in just finding technology solutions that make sense for their organization.  Another 18% are concerned that once they do find something good, it may just be the wrong solution anyway and end up obsolete in a few months!  Talk about anxiety over the future!  Add up those two numbers and it could be said that almost ½ of all organizations are uneasy with the choices they are making.  In addition to this unsettling feeling, 30% of organizations have a challenge tailoring a good solution once they find one to fit their business needs.

Looking at the results of the survey may bring out a unique response to every decision maker who views them.  My initial response to the survey was ‘I wonder how many of those organizations who are struggling with the right solution have ever seen Microsoft SharePoint.’  The two topics may seem unrelated; but from my point of view, I have never introduced SharePoint to an organization who didn’t see immediate and substantial benefits.  Oilfield construction, professional services, non-profit, accountants, retail, municipal districts, law firms, forestry consultants – everyone has seen an immediate benefit to using this product.  Most of the organizations initially felt a little apprehensive about their staff and how technically advanced they were.  After seeing how this type of collaboration solution could help them, the typical response is – ‘this looks easy.’  Perhaps we just got lucky, but this has always been an exciting product for us to share with our clients.

Collaboration – Simplicity – Low Cost – All Rolled Into One

One of the biggest surprises in reviewing this solution is when we come to the cost structure.  Explaining that for most organizations an initial deployment uses a free Microsoft license has caused a few surprises.  A free product from Microsoft?  Yes it is true and several of our customer’s haven’t paid for a license thanks to Microsoft’s commitment to stay competitive in the SMB environment.   The latest version, Microsoft SharePoint Foundations, requires no purchase and no client access licenses.  Once the product is installed and properly configured it requires very little training to become comfortable with many of the products functionality.  Document versioning, enterprise search, calendar integration with Outlook, instant notification of document changes, and document review management all take just a few minutes to guide a group through and they can begin getting using this product.

There have been a handful of incidences where we have spoke with prospective organizations and learned of their custom software development projects.  Topics like sharing projects with customer’s, tracking progress out in the field, managing data in a simple way that works for our business come up.  For some organizations their budget for the custom development runs into the 6 figures.  Most of the time these organizations have never heard of SharePoint.  If they had heard of this product I suspect their development budget may be smaller and their operating profit larger.

Leveraging new technology has business and financial risks.  Implementing a new solution like Microsoft SharePoint has offered a very worthwhile risk to reward profile for many of our clients.  Whether SharePoint is used as an intranet, customer portal, or Content Management System it offers an amazing degree of simplicity, stability and functionality all rolled into one package.


Written by Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer is the founder and president of pcit.

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