SharePoint Case Study : "We wanted to be as environmentally friendly as we could"

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The collaborative workspace certainly helped: Culhane and Fahrenkrug have shaved as much as $250,000 off the cost of the project because they were able to reduce the amount of paper they had to print and ship around the country to the various architects and contractors by 50 to 60 percent, compared to typical past projects, says Fahrenkrug. Campbell also believes the construction process has been expedited because architects and engineers don't have to wait 24 hours or more for the documentation they need to do their jobs.

"Turning documents around faster translates to building faster and that translates into cost savings on labor," says Campbell.

Tips for Getting the Most From SharePoint

1. Train users. "If you can't get people to use SharePoint, putting a site together is not worth the effort," says Kim Jeffries, an application analyst with the Van Andel Institute.

2. Give novice users targeted tips. "When I created an account for a new SharePoint users, I sent them an e-mail with their user name and password and some quick tips on how to access the account, what level of security they had, and what that meant in terms of what they could and couldn't do, how to use the calendar, and how to use a document library," says Jeffries.

3. Follow the three-click rule. Within the SharePoint site, says Jeffries, keep content as close to the surface as possible. "You should be able to get done what you need to get done in three clicks," she says.

4. Make sure you have enough storage. By the end of the Van Andel Institute's building expansion, the SharePoint sites might take up one terabyte of storage, says Bryon Campbell, CIO of the Institute.

5. Understand SharePoint's capabilities and limitations. "SharePoint is not the end all be all of software, but it works if you understand what it can and can't do," says Matt Fahrenkrug, owner of Culhane & Fahrenkrug Consulting. "By understanding that, you can manipulate the software and get to the result that you want."

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