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Using SharePoint in KM for Development


What are your experiences in using Microsoft Sharepoint for your KM and KS work? What activities does it support well? What does it not support so well? Any tips or tricks? Pointers to successful implementations? Resources?


intranet, SharePoint, portal, Sharepoint Portal Server

Detailed Description

Sharepoint is a Portal architecture from Microsoft that provides completely online web-editing functionality. In terms of Knowledge Management, it offers document libraries, people search (individual skill profiles can be easily implemented), easy and content creation (e.g. FAQ lists, Discussions, Surveys etc.). Being web-enabled and not too hard to learn Sharepoint supports local content creation. Sharepoint Workspaces are easy to setup and offer integration into the MS Office applications.

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KM4Dev Discussions

Sharepoint - a compilation of feedback from KM4Dev community Summary: Michelle Laurie''''


- MOSS2007 Search quite good - Able to index not only the portal but can expand to other resources, too - People search functionality since it also picks up skills / competencies if entered by the users. This way it is easy to figure out who speaks Chinese in your organization etc. - Not like Google but does what it needs to do Content Management:

- You have document libraries that work well with Office and allow to easily check-in / check-out. But without office you are trapped.

- We use the tool to integrate Word with our publishing platform -- click 'Publish' within a Word document and it is published immediately to the intranet (and it is published not as a hyperlink or a document but as a series of interactive web pages that users can slice and dice in limitless ways, say to answer questions like 'how many reputation risks does a certain division within the Bank manage, and how many of these risks have poor controls' -- or to perform tasks like assembling a report on the fly that lists all graphics that exist within any of the documents in the entire library that show a certain trend within a certain region). Saves us the complete publishing and distribution overhead (and gives us many features that are almost impossible to create 'manually').

- I would not call it a big CMS, it is a web-enabled document management system


- No. Wikis and web pages are different. Wikis come more from the collaboration side of life whereas Sharepoint websites are derived from the publishing business. That means you can setup complex workflows there. E.g. you create the content, have an editor approve it, create language variations (e.g. outsourced translation into different languages), then do the quality control and have the content appear on a specific date and time etc. That is quite different from Wikis.

- You can set up blogs and wikis but they are different from what you are used to…. Especially the wikis….. I would not wish them on my worse enemy

'Overall comments'

- We are quite happy with the product since it allows us to flexibly combine different needs. E.g. one of our problems was that we used to have "soft" KM and collaboration features (e.g. workspaces, lessons learned, discussion groups etc) and "hard" business data (Project data: budgets, expenditure etc). Often times the KM efforts were seen as "too fluffy" to have a significant impact and if we were under business pressure KM aspects were neglected. With MOSS we were able to create integrated team workspaces that feature the "soft" aspects and at the same time show real-time data from our ERP system (the "hard" data). This convinced a lot of our hardliners who were not previously convinced about the benefits of KM.

In the simplest terms, this is how the system works --

- Authors access documents through a MOSS library (basically a website) - Authors create process flows in Visio - On check-in, Visio 'automatically' sends process flow data to an associated Word file -- so no overhead on authors - Authors add narrative information in Word (an environment that they are very familiar with) -- no new tools to learn - On check-in, Word sends data in XML format to a database -- automated; no 'work' - Our publishing system pulls XML data from the database and displays it on our intranet website based on predefined display rules and parameters - The result thus is that the website is refreshed as soon as authors update content in Word; and readers get a host of interactive data driven features on the website -- the doc's not published as a long web page but in a reader friendly format, with accurate pagination, dynamically created links to related documents, interactive process flows, and an automatically designed navigation scheme

- You need to invest time / effort in order to set it up properly.

- The key distinction in my mind about Sharepoint is its designed from a document management perspective. That's its DNA. The second key distinction is how you START building a site determines everything that comes after. It is hard to "rearrange." It is easier to start over from scratch, so you need a clear idea of what you need and hope that need is stable. It is also hierarchical. You can't move easily "across" things, you always have to go up to the top level of a space to find cross links. You can get around this by lots of customization, but gee, why go to all that work. The wiki's are not very wiki like - a problem in many platforms that added wikis to stay current, but written in a different way. The blogs are OK. We have had a lot of trouble with the RSS feeds, though. All in all, I would not choose it unless I was working with people who are very Microsoft oriented (it integrates beautifully with Office), have a rather hierarchical structure and work in distinct groups rather than needing to range across groups for knowledge work.

- You really have to customize Sharepoint to make it usable. Apparently there's a cottage industry around Sharepoint customization.

- Performance is slow over a 256kps connection. I personally would not recommend Sharepoint installations if you are operating in rural areas. We're using in Madagascar and there are performance problems compounded with connectivity problems. Also bear in mind that sharepoint does not work too well with non-IE browsers!!!

Thanks to contributions from:

Mr. Sebastian Rottmair Business Process Specialist United Nations Office for Project Services

Prasanna Lal Das Knowledge Dissemination (Controllers) The World Bank

Roxanna Samii Knowledge Management International Fund for Agricultural Development

Nancy White Full Circle Associates, Connecting Communities online

Jon Lebkowsky

Examples in Application

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is using Sharepoint Portal Server 2003 for its global intranet.

Related FAQs

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Further Information

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