SharePoint is a powerful tool for collaboration and information sharing. Working on documents, tracking issues, tasks and projects can all be made easier using the tool. In many demos I have seen SharePoint can be used as a complete solution for managing the complete life-cycle of a business process. It all seems so great.
In the real world of actual organizations (at least in my experience) not everyone is willing or interested in using SharePoint. There are ways to integrate external applications with SharePoint that can create very powerful solutions but in some cases the issues is more than just connecting to other data sources. There are cases where you just need to pull information out of SharePoint for a report to management or for a meeting where you will not have access to your SharePoint site.
This is one place where things could be made easier. SharePoint does allow users to export content to excel or access for manipulation but in 2007 there was not a very good print view. For instance, if I was to run a search and needed to print the results or manipulate them to generate a report there is not an easy way of doing so. There are some add-ons you can install to make the process easier such as this one from ZenPo Software Innovations.
I think this issue can in some cases help hinder adoption. Users are comfortable with Excel, Word and Outlook and expect to easily transfer information between them. When users are new to SharePoint it’s can be daunting when they hear they are supposed to do all their work in this new tool.
There are several simple ways to help ease the transition.
- Don’t just focus on SharePoint features in training, also show the user how they can easily transition information from SharePoint into tools they are more comfortable
- Exporting to Excel, using the data sheet view to copy/paste from Excel and connecting lists to outlook are all very useful features that can make using SharePoint far more palatable for a novice user.