Intranet, Portal, SharePoint, Wikis, Discussion Boards, File Shares & Content

by Vishal 6. May 2013 17:04

Common intranet content needs within an enterprise include:
1. Knowledge Sharing
2. CMS, Collaboration, Document Management and Publishing
3. Discussions
4. File storage

Outside of these broad needs, every enterprise will also have, both standard and custom, line of business applications like source control, bug tracking systems etc. As companies and content grow larger, related needs like social networking & collaboration and a solid enterprise search platform to effectively search, tie and share information across these platforms also becomes essential.

As many know, I’m a big fan of SharePoint. But It’s important to understand the problem SharePoint currently solves for an enterprise. A strategy that’s built on the premise that SharePoint is the solution for all of the above needs is a failing SharePoint strategy. Sooner or later your users will tell you that- because they’ve either used or seen other platforms that were more natural to use and/or addressed the specific area better.

Common platforms that many companies use to address the common intranet needs include some or a combination of:
1. SharePoint
2. Wiki platforms like Confluence, MediaWiki or others
3. Discussion Board platforms
4. File Shares
5. Other extendible CMS platforms like Drupal
6. Custom developed solutions

I’m going to leave out 5 and 6. I’m leaving out other extendible CMS solutions because, honestly, I like SharePoint and I do believe that it solves the same use-cases for an intranet. I’m leaving out Custom developed solutions as well because I’m a developer and custom developed solutions will solve your every need but are not always practical to implement, scale, enhance and maintain.

So let’s take a look at what’s left. I want to highlight the areas of strength for each platform, where they succeed and where they might fail.

 

Wiki

SharePoint

Forums

File Shares

Need Addressed

Knowledge Sharing

CMS/ Collaboration/ Document Management/ Publishing

Discussion

document storage, file (non-document) storage, archival 

Content

·         Users create pages

·         Owner/users define:

o   Page content

o   Embed:

§  Images

§  links

o   Link to secure or structured content e.g.:

§  Files in source control

§  Documents in SharePoint

§  Bugs in bug tracker

·         Users create websites

·         Owner/ users define:

o   Site Data Sources (Lists & Document Libraries)

o   Site Pages

o   Site Content Permissions

o   Site Page Views (WebParts on a page that display data from a data source)

o   Site Structure

o   Embed:

§  Office documents

§  Web parts

§  External secure and unsecure data (reports, LOB data, bug tracking system…)

o   Link to Unstructured or public content:

§  Pages in Wiki

§  Internet sites 

·         Users Discuss

·         Owners/ Users define: 

o   Discussion Topics

o   permissions

o   Embed

§  Images

o   Link to secure or unsecure, structured or unstructured content

§  SharePoint

§  Wiki

§  Bugs from tracker

§  LOB Systems

 

·         Stores files

·         Owners/ Users:

o   Dump files

o   Manage permissions

 

Designed to

·         Used to Jot down an idea quickly – move details to the next page

·         Designed not to get in the way

o   Open permission set allows submission by everyone

o   Text based entry using wiki text

·         Used to Collaborate through content and process

o   Office integration

o   workflows

·         Designed to create structure

o   Granular permissions to lock down anything from complete sites to a specific document

o   Structured Lists to hold metadata around structured content in addition to the content

o   Structured document libraries to hold metadata around documents

o   Web Parts - Create different views of Lists and Document Libraries to present the content in a different form that it was created in

·         Used for open or closed discussions

·         Designed for quick

o   searching,

o   posting,

o   commenting,

o   linking

 

·         Used to store files that have no business metadata associated with them

·         The moment a document has business metadata around it – it should go to SharePoint.

·         Does not do versioning – SharePoint/ Perforce does

·         E.g.

o   Store the Windows 7 installer in a file share.

o   Store versioned application source code in perforce.

o   Store the versioned requirements document with related metadata such as the project, author, department in SharePoint.

o   Designed for quick storage/ retrieval of files

Searching

·         Full text searching for information

·         Full text searching as well as metadata searching

·         Full text searching 

Full text and file system metadata searching 

Myths

·         Is the place for structured content

·         Provides granular permissions

·         Is the place to store/ embed files

·         Is the place for unstructured content

·         Does not require site level management

·         Wiki capability provided inbuilt matches that of an enterprise wiki platform

·         Forums capability provided inbuilt matches that of a forums platform

·         Is an online file share

·         Integrates with existing LOB systems without custom development.

 

·         Can be replaced by SharePoint document libraries

 

 

 

 

 


The bottom line is that Collaborating, CMS, Knowledge Sharing, Discussions and file storage go hand in hand within the enterprise. The real challenge is how you provide a seamless experience & integration between the platforms.

The portal solution in this mix seems to be SharePoint. But it should allow its users to seamlessly transition to a wiki for authoring knowledge bases or forums for discussions. A sucessful strategy would Create interfaces between SharePoint, Wiki, Discussions as well, that allow content in each system to be shared, embedded and surfaced in other systems securely.

tags: SharePoint vs Wikis vs Drupal vs Forums for Intranet Portal

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MOSS | Sharepoint


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