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Is your SharePoint business critical?

Posted by Amanda Parsons on July 20th 2011 in News

Partnership and playing to ones strengths are very important here at Optix. We recognise what we can and cannot do so always look to work with the very best partners in areas we don't work in. One of these areas is Sharepoint integration. MSM Software Solved based in Exeter, London and Bristol are the partner we would pass anything Sharepoint related to. We asked them to provide an educational blog piece on this Microsoft platform.

We think they did a very good job, you can read it here: Microsoft SharePoint has become an integral tool for collaborative working across a number of sectors. Over the next year it is expected by many in the IT industry to become even more firmly established in the daily working lives of an increasing number of UK businesses and charities. As a result supporting a SharePoint service has become increasingly essential as employees and businesses continue to rely on SharePoint to manage business-critical processes. Luke Lang of MSM Software explores the implications of using SharePoint for business critical processes.

What is business-critical? Traditionally, business-critical is defined as a function, such as production and sales that a business cannot operate without. Similarly, business critical software applications, like SharePoint, often run business processes that are essential to success. For example, a bank's transaction processing system or an airline's reservation system has always been considered core business-critical systems. Their impact is measured in terms of a loss of revenue or employee productivity. What is the impact on your business? In essence, a business-critical application can still be defined as those in which system failure leads to lost revenue, customer dissatisfaction, and/or lost productivity. Poor SharePoint performance or downtime can equal loss of productivity for internal employees, partners, and even the IT department as they try to troubleshoot problems. It also has an impact on the company's revenue if customers cannot order, partners cannot get information needed to sell products, and salespeople cannot place orders.

Whether something is indeed business-critical can be summarised into the following areas; financial, reputational and operational. Financial Risk The threat of lost revenue is usually the keenest of all motivators. It is important to assess the impact of your SharePoint sites on profitability. Does your SharePoint site support processes or people who are key to the revenue of your business? For example; do salespersons access sales proposal documents, terms and conditions or contracts via your SharePoint site? In each of these cases the effectiveness of your sales team could be compromised by downtime, which could have a detrimental impact on sales. Reputational Risk This includes any risk to your brand and your customers’ perception of you. For example, using SharePoint as the CMS for your company website is a fantastic application; however if your website experiences downtime that you cannot fix because of a lack of internal skills it will affect customer satisfaction, your brand and your reputation. If your website is used for ecommerce or to capture sales leads it may also have an impact on lost revenue. Operational Risk Operational risks may not be as high profile as financial or reputational risk but it is nevertheless very important to consider.

Take the example of a support advisor not being able to access a knowledgebase of support materials because the SharePoint site is down; or a charity outreach volunteer being unable to access key documents to help support a vulnerable person. These examples illustrate how issues with operational processes can cause major dissatisfaction with employees’ ability to service customers. If operational types of risk are not addressed then overtime they can seriously diminish performance. Top tips to ensure SharePoint nirvana More and more SharePoint uses are now deemed to be business-critical as businesses’ reliance on technology increases exponentially. This reality has drastically changed the role and function of IT in many organisations. The demarcation lines of impact to the business are becoming blurred and the need for comprehensive business support is now often driven by whether issues get escalated, who shouts the loudest or whether senior IT managers get hassle. Risk very much depends on the consequences of service interruption for the customer and for the business. Here is some advice on how to mitigate these risks.

1. Understand the key success drivers of your business?

2. Conduct a SharePoint user survey to identify business-critical processes

3. Understand the risk associated with the identified processes

4. Review internal SharePoint support capability. Is your team qualified and available 24/7 (if required) to support your SharePoint service?

5. Who has set up the SharePoint processes or sites and what would happen if they left the business?

6. Has the SharePoint site been customised by users? If so, can it easily be supported? Business continuity planning is crucial to identify an organisation’s exposure to internal and external threats and ensure effective prevention and recovery from these risks.

To find out more about how MSM Software Solved can help you reduce the risk of SharePoint downtime please call 01392 338268 or exeter@softwaresolved.com

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