One of the oldest parts of Microsoft’s modern development platform is SharePoint. The successor to its original ASP-based Site Server intranet tool, SharePoint is a lot more than another enterprise content management tool. While it’s often ignored, left to host files and internal web content, at heart it’s an effective tool for building and managing workflows, with its own programming model and tools.
Our businesses are a lot more than their inputs and their outputs. They’re complex sets of information and material flows that link individuals, teams, and business processes. Much of that structure has developed organically, evolving as the business has grown, making it hard to map and harder still to add automation. That’s where SharePoint comes in, giving you tools you need to make that map of who does what and how they’re connected.
People often talk of Conway’s Law, the idea that software encapsulates the organization that created it, as “shipping your org chart.” It’s a bad thing, because it makes it hard for code to adapt to the world outside your walls and your servers. But inside those walls and on those servers, the org chart is a good thing. It’s how you build that map, and how you connect the human aspects of a business process.
SharePoint as a platform
SharePoint’s role as an enterprise content management tool gives it a significant insight into your organization chart, especially when it’s used to manage team-level collaboration with its built-in Team Site features. It’s that insight into your organizational graph that makes it a powerful back end for your internal applications, offering you a system of record for your corporate knowledge and for your documents, as well as for your org chart.