I Love SharePoint…

Well everyone knows that I do, so what’s my point – well despite loving it, I also need to say, that in some cases, it’s not always the right tool to use.

SharePoint is great at many things, it’s the best document management tool there is – period (happy to argue that with anyone over a coffee). But it’s not great at complex relational / structured data – that requires a database.

Why am I pointing this out? Well, things have changed! With the maturation of Flow away from the “workflow” engine that SharePoint has used for many years, the range of possibilities for automation has expanded. With it, the data structure needs to expand too. We now have much better access to the tools we need to store, access, interrogate and predict data all available as connectors. We no longer need to shoe-horn the data into SharePoint to get access via workflow.

Working with PowerApps and Flow together brings an even broader range of issues / possibilities / opportunities to think bigger and solve automation requirements in a more integrated way. Expand this to Azure with Logic Apps, Cognitive services, data storage and processing and top it all off with tools like Microsoft Teams and PowerBI for availability of data and insight.

That said let’s not re-invent the wheel. I’d be very rich now if I would have let customers asking for a full CRM solution in SharePoint have me develop it. We already have tools for that and the dynamics 365 connectivity via the Common Data Service back to the Power Platform tools just shows how enterprises can leverage a tool set rather than develop it every time.

But the licencing….I hear you say! Yes, if you don’t use all the features it can be expensive to licence some tools and I’m already seeing a pull back to SharePoint as a data source to prevent the new licencing uplift for PowerApps and Flow services. And, like I said, I love SharePoint – but let’s not overuse it or we’ll be back to the “I hate SharePoint” culture that we just escaped with the modern SharePoint Online features.

I’m a problem solver – I love solution design and for me, the fact that we now have more ways to skin the cat (official SharePoint phrase) is a great thing. It’s now the combination of tools that we use that delivers the real business value, not a single choice.

Some tools are good to go out of the box, some need some development and ALL need training, use case validation and regular review of their value add. Great consultants (there are so many I know if you need one) will talk to you about leveraging the value of the Office 365 tool set as a whole, not squishing all requirements into one tool just because you got the CFO to agree to implement it!

So, let’s use the right tools at the right time and work out whats right for you – all organisations are like snowflakes – individual and unique, let’s make sure we treat them that way and work out what’s right for each.

I still love SharePoint, but I’m quite fond of a whole bunch of other things too …

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