Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lost and Found in SharePoint

All is not lost...

Yes, you can use SharePoint content in your Shift iQ skills development solution!

Lost in SharePoint

People in many organizations feel they have "gone down the rabbit hole" with SharePoint, and end up feeling hopelessly lost. SharePoint vendors have a strong tendency to oversell and over promise, leading organizations to believe SharePoint has capabilities which it really doesn't.
Let's be clear: SharePoint is not a bad product. It is a good product used by more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. But it isn't a panacea for all things related to content and document management.

What is SharePoint, really?

SharePoint is a web application framework developed by Microsoft to provide organizations with a platform for intranet portals and online repositories for Microsoft Office documents. In essence, it is a programmable content and document management system. Office 365 is a cloud-based service hosted by Microsoft, which is a good example of SharePoint online.
Because it is a web application framework, SharePoint can (in theory) be extended to do just about anything, given an unlimited budget and software development resources. All too often we see it is this theoretical capability that vendors sell to their customers, without fully explaining the practical considerations.
We have worked in countless organizations where SharePoint has been adopted without a clear understanding of the time and cost required to transform SharePoint's "out-of-the-box" functionality into a practical and usable business solution.

A content management system is NOT a learning management system.

Learning management systems (LMS) are an excellent case in point. SharePoint is often sold as an LMS, but (once again) let's be clear: SharePoint is NOT itself a learning management system. Out of the box, SharePoint does not have even the most basic features of an LMS.
Given unlimited resources one can build an LMS from SharePoint, but given unlimited resources one can also build an LMS from Excel. And we have worked with companies who have attempted both. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should, but as everyone knows: to the man with a hammer everything might look like a nail...
As an office document repository, SharePoint is a good solution, and we don't suggest that our customers discontinue using it for that purpose. Corporate Information Technology (IT) departments often want to see "everything" in SharePoint because consolidation is an intrinsically good thing (and we agree) and SharePoint is a good way to consolidate and manage content.
Many systems that bill themselves as "learning management systems" are in truth content management systems. Moodle, for example, is a popular open source project which started as a content management system, and it is still better (i.e. most accurate) to describe Moodle as "a content management system with some learning management features".
Neither SharePoint nor Moodle is a true learning management system because neither is designed to track and manage learning. SharePoint is designed to track and manage office document content; Moodle is designed to track and manage course content.
A true learning management system is a learning platform with an agnostic view to content.
Companies who have invested heavily in SharePoint (or Moodle, or any other content/course management system, for that matter) can continue to do so, then use Shift iQ to catalogue, track, and manage training programs, learning requirements, and learning activities -- the artifacts of learning -- wherever the content happens to be located, and whatever its nature happens to be.
Let's face it: content is everywhere. Shift iQ is the skills development system to index that content, incorporate it into training plans and education programs, then track all the associated learning outcomes: employee records, compliance reports, and so on.

Found in Shift iQ

The integration between Shift iQ and SharePoint can be made perfectly seamless for the people in your organization.
For example, suppose you have a training program that includes a technical competency which references an Adobe PDF stored in SharePoint. Shift iQ links the technical competency to your PDF in SharePoint and tracks the version of that document signed-off by staff members when they perform self-assessments on that competency.
Because Shift iQ tracks each artifact accessed from Shift iQ, document control is a natural added benefit. Users can find all the content they need from one central location, even when that content is stored in many different locations and in many different systems. Administrators have the ability to manage their content in logical, easy to use libraries, as well as view the history of changes for audit and document control purposes.
From the perspective of learners, the transition from Shift iQ to SharePoint (and back to Shift iQ) is so seamless they won't even notice it. From the perspective of administrators, having the ability to explore and manage SharePoint content through their own libraries and tables of content in Shift iQ is a huge time-saver.

Yes, you can do that!

With Shift iQ you don't need to be a SharePoint guru or a SQL programmer. Best of all, you won't be dependent on your IT department to handle simple requests for integrating SharePoint content into your training programs.
Can you replace SharePoint with Shift iQ and instead use Shift iQ to author and manage your content? Sure, but you don't have to, and that's the beauty of a solution based on Shift iQ.
Shift iQ customers are always delighted to discover all is not lost in SharePoint: they can leverage that content "as is" in a true skills development system to develop and manage a competent and capable workforce, all in one place.

About Shift iQ

Shift iQ offers an integrated solution that provides an intuitive, cost-effective way to deliver online learning, including competency-based training and performance support.

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