SharePoint + ActionBase = Unstructured Data + Unstructured Process Management

SharePoint is a great tool for collaboration between people, or as Microsoft puts it “SharePoint is an enterprise information portal that can be configured to run Intranet, Extranet and Internet sites.  Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 allows people, teams and expertise to connect and collaborate”.

The one piece that is missing from that description is the idea of business process – which I describe as the business context in which the documents exist and the collaboration takes place. Microsoft isn’t blind to this and in SharePoint 2010 is promoting “SharePoint Foundation 2010” which is a enhanced version of the current “Windows Workflow Foundation” to allow programmers to create workflows associated with a SharePoint site. Basing the process implementation on Windows Workflow Foundation has a number of problems from a technical perspective (requires programming, processes are limited to the boundaries of the SharePoint Site Collection and processes can’t be changed at runtime). This makes its OK for structured processes – but completely in appropriate for human processes – the ad-hoc, unstructured process that we manage here at ActionBase.

In my previous post I wrote that Microsoft’s approach to process surprised me since they own the business tools most associated with the execution of human processes – Outlook (email) and Office (Documents). SharePoint 2010 could have been the platform for the killer app for human process management – by linking unstructured processes and unstructured data, human collaboration and human processes.

Well here at ActionBase we decided to fill the void. By linking ActionBase and SharePoint, people can easily link together (within a SharePoint site) the documents and the processes related to those documents. “ActionBase for SharePoint” brings to SharePoint users and to the organization a whole set of advantages that radically increase the benefits and ROI of a SharePoint installation:

  1. Documents stored in the site can be ActionDocs. That means that documents don’t need to be only passive – they can be used to initiate and track the processes related to them. The simplest way to think about this is “meeting minutes” – “ActionBase for SharePoint” allows the “meeting minutes” document to kick-off and monitor the processes and action items kicked-off at the meeting.
  2. The activities of the group can now be managed. This doesn’t mean much if the site is a passive “read-only” portal, but that isn’t what SharePoint is about. It is about collaboration between people – and let’s face it, collaboration between people ALWAYS includes email. “ActionBase for SharePoint” links ActionMail and SharePoint – so the group can know the various activities taking place outside the site in email that provide the context for the site and its documents.
  3. From an organizational standpoint, using “ActionBase for SharePoint” enables SharePoint to become the “system-of-record” not just of the documents – but of the context and activities that take place related to those documents. From a compliance standpoint this is huge. This means from a GRC perspective that Outlook + Office (the main GRC tools in most organizations) + SharePoint +ActionBase finally gives organizations a GRC tool that doesn’t require a new platform – or for people to change the way they usually do their work.

We truly believe that these advantages make “ActionBase for SharePoint” the killer extension to SharePoint.


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