With the development of languages such as C, C++, Java, .NET and a hundred others, the technology landscape have no shortage of programing languages. However, what it lacks is a program that can cut short on development time, cost and resources, while building robust applications that can collaborate between various organisational processes and teams. Even the ERP systems which were expected to solve this problem to a great extent were limited to a few domains and the scope of customisation limited in many circumstances. This is when Microsoft SharePoint came as the saviour, bringing an end to the long lasting issue of organisational collaboration and productivity.
SharePoint as a collaborative platform helps to build scalable and robust applications that helps organisations improve productivity and efficiency. What puts SharePoint much ahead of other systems is its wide scope, covering all aspects of organisational needs. It includes intranet portals, document and file management, collaboration, business intelligence, social networks and various other workflow capabilities.
For having a better understanding of the SharePoint capabilities, one should first be aware of Content Management System (CMS) and Enterprise Content Management System (ECM), the foundational frameworks on which SharePoint is built.
Content Management System (CMS)
Let’s start with a high level overview of Content Management System (CMS). Content Management System is a system providing a group of techniques which are used to manage work flow in a collaborative (common) environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based. The procedures are designed to do the following:
- Allow for a large number of people to contribute to and share stored data
- Control access to data, based on user roles (defining which information users or user groups can view, edit, publish, etc.)
- Support in easy storage and retrieval of data
- Control of data validity and compliance
- Reduce repetitive duplicate input (data redundancy)
- Improve the ease of report writing
- Improve communication between users
In a CMS, data can be defined as nearly anything: documents, movies, text, pictures, phone numbers, scientific data, and so forth. CMSs are frequently used for storing, controlling, revising, semantically enriching, and publishing documentation. Serving as a central repository, the CMS increases the version level of new updates to an already existing file. Version control is one of the primary advantages of a CMS.
Now let’s take a look at a new system called ECM which is an extension to CMS that fulfils all of the enterprise needs and can be implementable in all kinds of organizations.
Enterprise Content Management System (ECM)
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a system of strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM covers the management of information within the entire scope of an enterprise whether that information is in the form of a paper document, an electronic file, a database print stream or even an email.
ECM take cares of following in various sectors/domains of organizations.
- Document Management
- Records Management
- Web Content Management
- Rich Media Management
- Archiving and Library Services
- Human Centric Workflow
- Business Process Management
- Transactional Content Management
- Scanning (Image and Capture)
- Document Output Management
- Customer Communications Management
- E-Mail Archiving
As explained earlier, ECM system helps organisations achieve best result in time, cost and maintenance in different sectors such as IT, Consulting, Manufacturing, Retail, Medical, Oil & Gas and others.
On hunting for ECM systems one would come across 100s of software with similar offerings, often leaving the buyer perplexed. Therefore organisations need to carry an in-depth investigation to identify the technology that best suits their organisational goals and requirements. However, one offering that standout from the rest is Microsoft SharePoint Server.
Take for example the customization capabilities of ECM Systems. SharePoint Server is one of the very few ECM system which provides Open API (Application Programming Interface) framework to communicate with other business systems and technologies along with its general ECM Features. SharePoint as a product of .Net Technology built on ASP.Net and SQL Server, comes with separate Application Programming Interfaces. This allows SharePoint to be customised according to the organisational needs with the help of web technologies such as HTML, Java script, JQuery and ASP.Net, bringing flexibility and scalability to the system.