Hi Folks, As promised in last weeks’ article, a quick warn that I will be drawing attention to a number of third party products which I have used with SharePoint in particular articles going forward. Before embarking on what can only be described as a wonderful adventure, I’d like to clarify why I am doing this, given that this site is devoted to SharePoint service delivery. This clarification is important, because, for a long time, I have been “externally SharePoint technology agnostic”, and instead, user focused in terms of the actual process of service delivery (implementation, support, capability etc). That will not end of course!
So why the third party tool mentions Geoff? Well, as a SharePoint solutions architect, I have always maintained that whilst a lot of things can be achieved using SharePoint in-built features and components, that there will be times where a third party tool, used to augment SharePoint, or to meet a specific requirement, carries more value add. There will be instances when it is either bringing in the third party tool, or instead, having to either (a) redesign the wheel (b) attempt to hack around SharePoint (c) bring in developers to code (d) inform the customer in a Star Trek Scottie style ‘It cannae be doon, capn’, or a combination of those.
Indeed, I can think of many instances where a third party product, sanctioned by the SharePoint sponsor, meets key requirements much quicker, smoother and can bring long term enhanced user adoption and therefore a greater ROI.
Note however, that in adopting third party tools is not without its pitfalls, for example, having to ensure that there is a strong relationship with the third party development team. Support must be manageable, that the third party tool must be scalable (or its limitations understood fully), and that the tool sits within the organizational SharePoint strategy. This is the essence of commoditization of course, the ability for SharePoint to evolve and morph into exactly what the customer requires (if the process of doing so is defined and managed). And, given that as a SharePoint community the app model of the cloud (Office 365) brings a lightning bolt of third party components means SharePoint becomes even more commoditized. Already, Microsoft Office is fully tuned into SharePoint – with the news that the Access App is now available in SharePoint online it is now even more important that we, as SharePoint workers are aware of third party tools also. This is particularly since, as these tools gather pace, they will increase their own customer base to the point that new skillsets evolve in the marketplace that become commoditized. For example, a number of third party tool providers produce their own training courses, which become a commodity due to the size of the customer base for that tool.
Anyway, I will for now list the tools (in alphabetical order) which I will give special mentions to as they relate to areas of SharePoint service delivery. There are many others I have absolutely no doubt, but these are the ones which I particularly have experience in and therefore can write about with a little more authority:
|ControlPoint||Metalogix (was Axceler)||Administration (governance)|
|Nintex Workflow||Nintex||Workflow Process automation|
|PDFShareForms||PDF Share Forms LLC||PDF Forms Design|
|Quick Apps for SharePoint||Quest||Rapid application development|
A gentle reminder that where the tools are discussed that I will not describe what is good or what is bad about the tool. I am not a sales person for any of the tools. Do not expect me to go into details of installation or configuration either. The key is to identify where I have used the tool, why, and how – including the process of how I went about provisioning the tool from a business perspective……