We hear a lot of questions about SharePoint when working hospitals. Many have implemented SharePoint or are thinking about implementing SharePoint for their hospital intranet or document management. While SharePoint has its place in many organizations, we often hear the same issues and misconceptions about the use of SharePoint in a healthcare setting. I would like to discuss a few of these myths in this post.
#1 SharePoint is free!
SharePoint (along with a host of Open Source CMSs) is free in the same sense that you can get a "free puppy". By this I mean that the version that is free will likely end up costing a pretty penny in the long run. You will find very quickly that once staff start using the system they will have more and more expectations and requests for functionality. This will become a burden on your limited IT resources and lead to frustration for both IT and operational staff.
You may also get licensing for a more fully featured version of the system. The licensing model alone is rather complex and even if you figure out what licensing you want, the cost will likely be more than your hospital can afford for this type of project. The worst part is that the licensing cost doesn't even include all the customization you will likely need to make the system what your staff want and expect.
#2 SharePoint is easy to use
Yes this is the best part! Some staff may have used SharePoint at a previous employer and some of your IT folks may have a little expertise in this area as well. These people may advocate for the system because they know how to do a few things that could benefit their department. The reality is that SharePoint is very complex and has a lot of moving parts. Even if a few know how to use it, there will be a signifcant effort required to install the system, train end users as well as IT staff on how to use and maintain the system as well as keep up with ongoing feature requests. If you do your research, you will find that SharePoint isn't as "easy" as you might think.
#3 SharePoint doesn't require developers
While it is true that you probably don't need a developer to implement a basic SharePoint site, the reality is that to get specific workflows and business processes integrated with the system you will need development expertise. If you have internal resources for this that is great, but most hospitals we speak with don't. Also, if you are relying on a single resource to develop your site the response to feature requests will be slow and you run the risk of that person leaving along with the customization knowledge and expertise.
#4 SharePoint is great for managing policies
It terms of a respository for your policies and procedures and other documents, SharePoint does an OK job. The biggest complaint we hear is that staff cannot find policies in SharePoint. This is primarily due to search engine, taxonomy, and document organization problems. The other issue is that SharePoint is a document repository, but that is it. If you intend to manage document reviews, workflow, approval, collaboration, notifications, etc. the out of the box solution will fall far short of your needs (see myth #3 for the solution).
The bottom line here is that SharePoint may not be the solution to all your communication, collaboration, and document management needs that you thought it was. Do your homework and understand the resources required to really tackle a SharePoint implementation for your hospital intranet. Looking for more tips on intranet implementation? Check out our ebook on this topic by clicking the link below.