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SharePoint as a Corporate Data Warehouse: Pros and Cons

The current Corporate environment is continuously evolving. Organisations, whether small or enterprise, have their presence globally. Gone are the days where employees used to work from one dedicated seat in an office, now they work remotely.
Firms are under tremendous pressure to be productive. Employees should be able to collaborate easily and meet deadlines, not only timely but also qualitatively. On top of it, regulations impose ever deeper audits based on historical data.

This may sound simple and straightforward, but it is instead quite hard to achieve. Microsoft SharePoint could be a possible answer to the requirements above. It lets firms to meet the ever-changing needs, collaborate effectively and assist a lot in making better business decisions. The numbers speak for themselves: as per the data from Microsoft, over 350 companies from Fortune 500 are using SharePoint.

Still, as you store more and more corporate data into SharePoint, does it ensure that it will suit all your needs? Let’s explore the pros and cons of SharePoint when being considered as a Corporate Data Warehouse.

Pros

Effective Collaboration

Collaboration and communication are the core of successful and growth-ready businesses. Collaboration can be a force in motivating workforce productivity. Team collaboration is the engine that powers innovation. SharePoint along with Office 365 lets you create a virtual workspaces where teams can meet, collaborate, and complete tasks.

Workflows and Security

SharePoint lets you configure the virtual workspace with various security level options, which include public sharing, private sharing with team members and others to cater various sort of requirements. Granular access can be assigned to lists and libraries, down to item level. Workflows allows control of  the approval process of any change to ensure that only members specifically designated and authorised can access restricted data.

Communication

You can communicate within the firm and across teams with ease with SharePoint. Not only you can store the shared documents, but team members can communicate over chat, conduct video conferences with Skype or Microsoft Teams, set up schedules, and compare calendars. If required, members can even exchange email that’s exclusive to the SharePoint server. Now with the addition of the new upgraded mobile app, team members are not devoid of team meeting space even while travelling.

Concurrency and Synchronisation

SharePoint serves as an excellent document library and had excellent support of concurrent edits, so every document, and every edit of a document, is logged instantaneously and seamlessly to the cloud. From the centralised cloud, the update is then propagated to all registered devices and PC’s connected to the network, keeping every team member up to date always. If required, you can even track the changes.

Create a Data Warehouse System in a few clicks

Creating a set of lists to store your data can be done in minutes. On top of that you can link lists to each other, assign permissions, workflow, add attachments, and create personalised basic views over the data. All that allow you to set up a brand new system to maintain data related to a particular system, without writing a single line of code.

MS Office Integration

SharePoint offers smooth integration with MS Office suite. Also, Office 365 gives collaborative teams access to office tools like PowerPoint, MS Word and advanced collaborative tools through Microsoft Teams.

Cons

Maintenance Costs

Maintaining an in-house SharePoint instance and developing on top of it entails a team of highly skilled professionals. It is fair to say that SharePoint cannot be maintained by non-technical users. SharePoint is designed to allow for advanced customisation to suit complex needs. But that requires advanced technical skills to develop the customisation and manage them. Therefore, you must either have your own dedicated SharePoint developer(s) or contractors to assist with maintaining your solution.

Reporting and integration

Data is of no value if we can’t get insights out of it which in turns drives better business decisions. Custom Reporting based on SharePoint data has been a necessity for quite a while, and there are numerous ways to fulfil this need. You can create custom web parts, data View web parts or even use SSRS reports to create custom reports. Also, with the arrival of Power BI, things have become quite structured. But ultimately,they all suffer from the same problem: if your SharePoint lists contains a some serious amount of data, you’ll quickly begin to bump into capacity limits and performance limitations. Also, if you need to create reports across different lists or sites, you will surely encounter hurdles either in terms of options, feasibility or level of permissible customisation.
However, if you can export the data into a SQL Server database, you can cater to all sorts of custom reporting requirements with ease. Also, you can easily counter the performance overhead as well. However, the means of getting the data moved there are limited and have conventionally been challenging.

AxioWorks SQList allows you to export SharePoint lists & libraries as normalised SQL Server tables, and build powerful reports on SharePoint data using SSRS, Crystal Reports, Power BI, on an other reporting tool.

Pricing

Pricing of SharePoint depends on the model of the deployment. You can opt from either on-premise model, subscription model, or hybrid. As the high level of customisation is inevitable for meeting requirements, it is quite often that most organisations overshoot their budgets. And there are additional costs for deployment, infrastructure, migration, implementation, training and administration.
Moreover, being an enterprise solution, deployment is quite big and takes time. Therefore, trying to get a positive return on investment on it will take time.

Extending the default Search

Default search functionality provided by SharePoint is basic and efficient only for basic scenarios. If you need to customise the default search to suit your requirement, you need to invest good amount of effort and time.

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