It may not contain a tiny pair of scissors or a wine corkscrew, but Microsoft’s latest iteration of Office SharePoint Server (MOSS 2007) certainly is the Swiss Army knife of software.
“Companies are using MOSS 2007 to collaborate, manage content, implement business processes and workflows, and create access to information that is crucial for organizational goals and operations,” says Bill Russell, executive vice president of Allegient. “The breadth of MOSS 2007 gets to the heart of what most knowledge workers struggle with on a day-to-day basis.”
Smart Business recently spoke with Russell about the breadth and features embedded in Microsoft’s Office SharePoint Server 2007.
What features of MOSS 2007 are most appealing to small and medium-sized companies?
The breadth of collaboration and content management is the capstone of the many capabilities that this cost-effective, portal-based platform provides. It integrates extremely well with Microsoft Office and Outlook, allowing businesses to take full advantage of their existing desktop document, spreadsheet and e-mail applications. MOSS 2007 also pushes the ability for end-users to manage Web content and not use technical staff. This will allow businesses to deploy new information more quickly, to meet customers’ needs quicker and be more agile in responsiveness to market changes.
Another attractive feature is the improved search capability. In concert with content management, the search function has the ability to search across an entire enterprise.
Why is MOSS 2007 superior to previous versions and other platforms?
The major improvement is clearly the richer and highly integrated Web development, content and management capabilities. MOSS 2007 allows a small firm, which might have had multiple Web sites, with all different looks and feels, to present a more transparent experience to its Web users. They can manage their content more easily and quickly, with little need for their IT department’s assistance. Where appropriate the MOSS 2007 development environment makes it much easier for companies to build and integrate Web parts, or small applets, like a ‘ticker’ of their stock price or the latest headline news. It makes it very easy to buy or build these applets, integrate them and update the site in look and feel, for the information.
A second enhancement from other versions is the included dashboard/business intelligence features that can be utilized to notify companies about how certain parts of their business are doing, as an example.
What unique or hidden features are included in MOSS 2007?
The platform allows companies to build and integrate workflows, or use the improved, packaged workflows to mirror parts of or complete business processes. The most popular workflow included in the platform is what’s called an approval workflow. MOSS 2007 gives you a basic approval workflow that you can configure to match your needs.
MOSS 2007 also features integrated Infopath, a set of capabilities that allow a company to easily build forms that can be included on a Web site and filled out by the user for any number of business needs or applications.
Many businesses have spent enormous amounts of time and money to build Excel spreadsheets, which they use to run their business. Certain editions of MOSS 2007 include a powerful set of what are called ‘Excel Services’ to take advantage of these existing applications so companies can leverage them.
What processes might companies first tackle with MOSS 2007?
MOSS 2007 embeds powerful and intuitive tools for providing more structure and efficiency to everyday business or knowledge worker processes. For example, MOSS 2007 allows business users to create, publish and manage Web content. The toolbars mirror the familiar features in Microsoft Word, allowing authorized users to change fonts, colors and other appearances right inside the pages. Companies can use these capabilities to move more of the content management back to business users and save their IT technical team for the more complex requirements.
Companies can also leverage the package’s much improved document management capabilities and collaboration features around those documents. Creating group, team or individual workflows that allow a knowledge worker to get work done is another very fundamental, generic work process included that can be applied across any business.
Should companies use outside resources to implement MOSS 2007?
Some small firms are implementing it right now with their existing IT staff, and frankly, they’re getting themselves in some difficulty because they’re not using enough outside expertise and help to get a good start. The outside resource can help identify one or two areas of what we refer to as low-hanging fruit, or obvious business processes, that could quickly improve with MOSS 2007’s capabilities.
BILL RUSSELL is executive vice president of Allegient. Reach him at (317) 564-5701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.