What is most valuable?
The most valuable features to our organization are the ability to store and share documents across the entire corporation, and the ability to use workflows. Our organization has multiple locations and even multiple companies that need to share information both intra-company and within the corporation. The ability to create workflows that can assign tasks and route documents for review and approval allows for documentation automation and project management.
How has it helped my organization?
We used to use project folders to manage new product development. With SharePoint, it allowed us to store all of the related documentation in a single project folder. Another example would be when we have a product quality issue, a single form is filled out and routed to the various people in the organization for review and resolution to ensure the issue does not repeat itself. Several locations use the calendar feature to schedule PTO and at one plant, they use the calendars to schedule the dock doors for freight delivery and shipping.
What needs improvement?
The user profile synchronization feature is cumbersome to configure and at least initially had some stability issues. Since then, it has improved in stability, but is still not a straightforward installation.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have used SharePoint in our organization for 10 years, beginning in late 2006 with SharePoint 2007.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There have been no stability issues other than with user profile synchronization. The only times we have had SharePoint offline in the last 10 years were when we had a server issue in 2010 and when we have taken it offline for maintenance.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I have not encountered any scalability issues, but our installation only supports a few thousand people.
How are customer service and technical support?
I have little experience contacting Microsoft technical support in relation to SharePoint, as we have not experienced any issues that would require their intervention.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I did not previously use a different solution.
How was the initial setup?
Initial setup can be daunting if you are not familiar with the product, especially if you are setting this up in a multiple-server environment, which would be the common scenario. There are three main servers in the configuration: the database server, the web application server and the web front end server. In larger installations, that number can grow, as you can have multiple front end servers and multiple servers handling the various application services.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
As with any Microsoft product, the licensing can be complex. There are two versions of SharePoint: Enterprise and Standard. Standard does not require an additional user CAL for the SharePoint part of things, but has less features; the most important being able to use Office apps directly in the browser. SharePoint is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office, so this is a critical point.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We did evaluate using FileNet as an alternative. We chose SharePoint due to its tighter integration with Microsoft Office.
What other advice do I have?
If you don’t have in-house expertise, you would be well advised to hire a competent consulting firm to help with the planning and installation. You will need to consider things such as in-house servers vs. a hosted solution, along with topology, backup and disaster recovery, security, and capacity plans. And that is just for hardware. You will also need to consider logical architecture: how you want to use social computing, document management, search and metadata structure, records management, and site security. That is just a portion of the details involved.
Beginning with SharePoint 2007, the product has steadily improved with a few minor exceptions.