As the CTO of Corridor Company, I’m frequently presented with the question, “Why SharePoint?" Having used a multitude of different technologies throughout my career as well as numerous content management systems, my response is immediate. Not only does SharePoint provide us with a world-class platform upon which we can build our product, it is one of the most flexible, user focused and prevalent products on the market.
Large User Base & High Demand
Taking my last point first, while you may not be well versed in the details of SharePoint, as a member of the business community, you’ve likely used it. SharePoint is present within 78% of Fortune 500 companies and has a user base which numbers in the hundreds of millions. It is the most popular Enterprise Content Management System in the world, and is one of the fastest growing Microsoft products in the company’s history. Yes – much to my son’s disbelief – SharePoint is as popular as Xbox!
Because you’ve likely already used SharePoint and because it is already present within your company, training costs are lower and are more readily facilitated and user adoption tends to be higher. Not only does your IT department already know how to support it, they’ll likely appreciate not having to support yet another application or silo of information.
World Class Platform
As a technologist, however, far more important to me than whether or not people are familiar with or like the technology is the value that the technology delivers. SharePoint, as a development platform, possesses unmatched repository functionality, control definitions, language support, security, search, integration and analytics. As the CTO of a company that develops business-critical applications such as our contract management application, this is vitally important to me. As I plan our technology roadmap, rather than focusing on infrastructure components which are, of course, critical to our application, but which don’t necessarily delight our buyer or end user, I can focus on solving the challenges of my contract management constituency. There are areas within SharePoint where I need to augment functionality, but my primary focus is on developing the best contract management application on the market.
With Microsoft’s R&D budget far eclipsing my own, I’m able to leverage the development efforts as well as the innovation which Microsoft is continuously introducing not only into SharePoint and Office 365, but into its entire product portfolio.
I, as well as my customer base, are also able to benefit not only from SharePoint’s out-of-the-box integration, but also from the integration that the market provides in terms of “hooking into" SharePoint. Microsoft’s native Business Connectivity Services (BCS) allow external data to be connected into SharePoint with bi-directional updates. For my contract management users, this allows significant efficiencies to be introduced. Information need not be entered multiple times, contract data including spending can post directly into a Line of Business (LOB) system, and contracts can be accessed from wherever the user “lives." And, because of its popularity and market prevalence, virtually every major software vendor, including SAP, Oracle and Salesforce, have worked with Microsoft to deliver varying forms of integration with SharePoint and Office 365.
Finally, I have the added advantage of flexibility in my delivery platform. While functionality differs between versions and is licensed independently, because I leverage SharePoint, I have the ability to deliver my product on premises, in the cloud or via Office 365. For those organizations with distinct security requirements, I can also provide a hybrid solution for documents or data which need to remain on premises.
As a commercial off-the-shelf software company, Corridor strives for product and implementation consistency. This allows us to deliver the best product to the market at the lowest cost point with the least amount of ongoing support requirements. While we’ve worked diligently to design the best contract management system in the market, our reality – and that of our client base – is that unique organizational requirements invariably present themselves. By leveraging SharePoint as the development and delivery platform for our product, we’re able to accommodate many unique business needs without the need for custom code. SharePoint’s flexible nature allows us to do through configuration what many other products can only address through custom code.
Power in the Hands of the User
Traditional document management and contract management systems are highly dependent on IT for day-to-day support as well as any necessary changes. Support queues, request clarifications and red tape all contribute to slow and painful change management processes.
With SharePoint, business users and tech-savvy employees can make a variety of changes directly. Support of the system becomes much more expedient and efficient, and the team involved in managing the application has a level of autonomy and ownership which integrates well with the IT controlled elements of SharePoint.
These are just a few high-level reasons why we chose SharePoint as the basis of our contract management application. We, as well as our client and prospects, are able to continuously benefit from the power and flexibility provided by SharePoint.
I’ve never regretted choosing SharePoint. In fact, I think it was the smartest decision we ever made.
If you’d like to hear more, download our whitepaper SharePoint as a Platform for Contract Management.
Aaron Cutlip provides vision and decades of experience as he leads Corridor’s R&D team.