Leaping Over The Sharepoint Big Cheese Trap!
I just read a proposal from a service company to migrate from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Sharepoint. Remembering all the issues around Notes applications development I thought at first that this not a bad idea. As I looked at the proposal more in detail I began to understand: Sharepoint is the new service business bonanza. There is a lot of gold to be found because there are a lot of apps that have been developed (HARDCODED) to run with Sharepoint, such as document management, case management, CRM, Reporting and performance dashboards and others. Sharepoint doesn’t really do much by itself it seems.
We sometimes have the problem that large service organizations shun the Papyrus Platform as a option to replace Lotus Notes or as an alternative to Sharepoint. Why could that be? Because it is so difficult to implement? Absolutely not. Exactly the opposite is the case. Using Papyrus reduces the service revenue of a service business. Rather than a lot of programmers it needs a few business analysts and project managers. Most service organizations do not have that many people in this skill segment. But they have MANY programmers.
Put yourself into the shoes of a sales manager at a service business and outsourcer. If you could sell to a customer:
- The Papyrus Platform that can be implemented by two consultants in 6 month and leaves the business in charge;
- or, sell three to ten times the project manpower, 50% commissions on add-on software and it forces this business into a longterm outsourcing relationship;
… which would you choose?
I would not trust IT service or software organizations that boast large service departments and long lists of partners to be cost efficient, because that simply means that there is a lot of manpower and service expense coming your way. Service or manpower IS NOT an investment, but it is like the fuel that a car burns. Imagine someone saying: ‘I can’t switch to a better car because I have a LOT OF FUEL invested in this one.’ Everyone would consider that fairly stupid.
That is like saying: ‘We CANNOT migrate from this application (Notes, Filenet, MS-Office, Documentum, … ) because we spend each year millions in services to keep it going.’ But surprisingly enough exactly that sentence I hear every day. Yes, some of that investment would be a good one if for example the business processes had been well analyzed and are well documented. In most case the processes are hidden inside some piece of code or in a spaghetti tangle of workflows and rules. Worst if it is a mixture of ECM, BPM, CRM products hardwired together by an outsourcer by means of EAI or SOA.
Microsoft and Adobe and all their XMLs, PDFs and other ‘open standards’ produce a service revenue trap. As soon as you have to write a single line of ADD-ON Java or C# code it becomes proprietary. Your level of openness is defined by the weakest element in your application. With Sharepoint you are stuck on Windows too. Papyrus in difference uses a Repository to document and deploy your applications built on a solid Business Architecture to ten different operating systems. We at ISIS Papyrus protect your investment into the platform by allowing list-price cross-grades and product exchanges, but also into your applications by documenting them fully in the WebRepository.
While I feel that much of the Going Green slogan is hype because IT does not use much energy, there is one thing that we can learn from this movement. The green solution is not TO DO LESS (go back to the caves) of what you need to do, but to invest technology to do whatever it is more efficiently. Efficiency does not mean to automate and fire a lot of people, but to do it right – for each individual customer – the first time. That is not only efficient but it will give you loyal customer relationships. Sharepoint is not efficient technology but rather like a big and clunky, fuel-guzzling SUV (remember VISTA?) that needs huge server farms and outsourcer manpower to run.
Many years ago we worked with a Danish company that sold IBM AFP compatible printers and add-on IPDS cards. I forgot his name, but I remember this line of their CEO from a business partner meeting: ‘Yes, IBM is a big cheese, but that gives us the opportunity to fill the holes.’ Well, clearly Sharepoint is the next big cheese and there are hordes of outsourcers and service companies just waiting to fill the holes. AND THE USERS WILL PAY THE PRICE ….