If you value the advantages that an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution affords an organization, and are interested in purchasing or expanding Microsoft SharePoint to fill that need, you should become familiar with SharePoint’s ECM strategy merits and limitations. SharePoint can provide a solid foundation for your ECM solution, but it requires additional functionality to turn SharePoint into a robust ECM system. The question is: should you build a custom ECM solution using the SharePoint platform, or buy third party applications that run on top of SharePoint?
SharePoint Strengths and Areas For Improvement
Before weighing in on how SharePoint can become a full-featured ECM solution, it is important to understand what out-of-the-box attributes make SharePoint great, and more importantly, what shortcomings it has.
Microsoft products are pervasive in the market and widely accepted by users, thanks to the familiarity of their interface and the comprehensive business functionality of their products. Microsoft set the standards for the business user experience and continues to dominate in that space today. Of course, SharePoint has the same familiar look and feel as other MS Office products, which makes it easy to learn and use. SharePoint is also commonly used in all industries and can be found in thousands of businesses – large, medium and small – throughout the world.
SharePoint provides a strong platform with a lot of fundamental content management features. However, Microsoft developed it to be a kind of electronic toolbox used to facilitate collaboration between people rather than a full-scale ECM system.
SharePoint can act as a simple document management solution, but questions arise because of known gaps in its ability to meet more complex content management requirements. For example, SharePoint has limitations when it comes to integrating content across different lines of business and providing complex workflow structures. SharePoint also limits:
- Document size to 2 GB
- Content database size to 200 GB
- Remote BLOB storage
- The number of site collections to 5,000
Even with these limitations, SharePoint is still a powerful document container, but it requires supplementation for it to provide enterprise content services to all users.
Closing the ECM Gaps in SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint presents an interesting question for organizations thinking of investing in an ECM system. On the one hand, SharePoint offers a tested foundation for a ready-made document management solution; on the other hand, it has serious limitations that cause it to fall short of full ECM functionality. If an organization is willing to support its use of SharePoint with other options, they can create a fully-fledged ECM solution that can streamline their business and decrease waste.