Microsoft SharePoint is used by a majority of Federal Government Contractors. They primarily use it to manage content (documents and data) and as their Intranet. Yet, SharePoint can be leveraged to add a great deal more business value than is typically realized. For GovCon organizations the value is realized when SharePoint is leveraged for business applications and processes that are business-critical. However, there are significant barriers to accomplishing this. There is a Wall and few are able to get over it. In this article, I’ll describe the reasons for this, the consequences and how R3’s offerings are designed to help eliminate the Wall and enable GovCon organizations to create much more effective workplaces.
The Siloed Design of SharePoint
SharePoint is designed as a distributed, content management system. Information is stored in Sites – secure, separate workspaces. It excels at this level of use and is the worlds leading platform for this purpose. However, over time you end up with many, many separate secure Sites of information. They become silos of information. They herd the needy into these silos. They become hard to find, navigate and use productively.
One of the best examples of this is the use of SharePoint for proposal sites in GovCon. Each site is used for a proposal. It works fine to securely store and manage documents. But, you end up with many, separate, secure sites, one for each proposal. Trying to get a single view of where things stand, what is going on, the status of work, and managing and driving the work across all of these proposal sites is next to impossible. Work that could be structured, automated, made manageable is instead done manually using spreadsheets and email.
The business of GovCon is heavily information dependent. However, practical business success depends on using information in processes that help you to Win, Deliver and Manage the business. The business value comes from the process and work automation not from storing content.
Confronting the Wall
Leading GovCon organizations know this. Some try to get from distributed content to business processes and better ways of managing work by investing in custom development to design and build business applications/processes that they need. While SharePoint has extensive core application development capabilities, these efforts require extensive custom code development, by highly skilled and expensive people, and, a lot of time. The cost and risk of custom development creates a barrier for most organizations that want to move forward. This “Wall” is just too high for most organizations to cost-effectively get to the other side of business value.
Falling Back to Proprietary Applications to Get Business Value
Thus, most organizations just default to using SharePoint for its most basic content capabilities. Often this isn’t enough to be competitive, so organizations look outward at third-party business solutions. This leads them to continuing to use or buying new proprietary software solutions (either on premise or Software As a Service). Each of these solutions creates another silo of information and functionality. If you want to integrate them, you have to surmount another new custom development Wall. Further, these third-party solutions are proprietary meaning that you become dependent on the vendor for enhancements and your ability to innovate becomes constrained.
The result for far too many GovCon organizations is a work environment that has silos of information in SharePoint and silos of information and business application functionality in many other proprietary, third-party solutions. All of these silos are barriers to productivity and organizational effectiveness. The Walls are just too numerious and too big to get over. The ability of organizations to innovate, improve and compete becomes limited by their software choices and constraints.
This is not a value creating situation.
How R3 Gets You To a Better GovCon Workplace
R3 provides GovCon organizations with a way forward that creates a virtuous cycle towards a better, open, more integrated workplace on SharePoint. It just eliminates the Walls. It works like this.
We provide a suite of off-the-shelf, purpose-built business solutions (currently 8 solutions in our Summer 2015 release) addressing specific GovCon needs to Win, Deliver and Manage the business. Each of these solutions can be used stand-alone to add the value you need. They are deployed and run right on top of your existing SharePoint environment. This means that you can just drop them in and quickly and cost-effective have a better way of working. The documents and data all remain in your secure SharePoint environment. However, your users won’t even know they were using SharePoint because the user interface is business application/process focused vs. content-oriented.
The business solutions themselves are a key piece. But, how we do it is actually more important to solving the larger organizational challenge outlined above. All R3 solutions are built using a single work management platform. This platform gets installed on top of SharePoint. It not only allows us to create the purpose-built solutions, but, it empowers you with a unique ability to have it your way without the need for custom development. You are able to enhance and extend each solution using our built in configuration wizards. You can customize the solutions. And, you can also add completely new features and extend the solutions. You are no longer limited by proprietary software.
But, what about the silos of SharePoint. Poof! Gone! The secret sauce of our work management platform is that it enables you to have applications and processes that connect information across your entire SharePoint environment. This means that all of the R3 solutions are natively connected. It also means that all of your existing SharePoint sites, resources and applications are also natively connected. And, you can connect to external systems and resources and make them part of your applications. Effectively, this transforms a SharePoint environment from a distributed, siloed content environment into a business oriented work environment – an integrated workplace.
Working without the Walls
When you get a broad perspective of the work in GovCon, you find that it is all related. Once you break through the walls it is quite straight forward to see how work is integrated. Capture works with proposals. Pre-award proposals lead to post-award program management. Pre and post award activity feeds contract management. There are business processes such as working with subcontractors that cut across all activities.
Through R3’s offerings, GovCon organizations can now:
- get quick business value through off-the-shelf, purpose-built applications and processes
- on a common work management platform with built-in capabilities to make solutions open and flexible
- that leverages SharePoint and continues to utilize SharePoint for security and data/documents
- and that eliminates the silos between the applications and between all other SharePoint sites and resources
Through these elements the Wall just fades away. You can now focus on applications and process improvements that add business value. Each can be incrementally added, cost-effectively, with minimum risk. It is all part of one open, integrated work environment. And, it runs on one centrally managed infrastructure.
With this new foundation your GovCon workplace is no longer limited by your software, but, only by your needs, your processes, your people and your imagination.
To Learn about R3 Solutions for GovCon.