TGO Budgeting Solution – Why SharePoint for the Administration Interface
Posted by Alan on February 2, 2011
Today’s post on the TGO Budgeting Solution will discuss why we think SharePoint is the ideal interface for administering the solution. At TGO Consulting, SharePoint is one of products that falls under our Business Intelligence practice. We deploy SharePoint not only for the Business Intelligence features but for the traditional SharePoint features as well. We started dabbling with SharePoint when it was SharePoint Portal Server 2003, advanced our usage with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (driven largely by PerformancePoint Server) and have fully added it to our product mix with the SharePoint Server 2010 release. We were even lucky to have an early adopter customer in the TAP program which allowed us to really take some arrows.
We knew for our budgeting solution we would need some interface to manage the administrative functions. Theoretically everything could be managed from the back-end. In fact, Microsoft put out a white paper a little bit ago that discussed doing just that. If you had the right skills you could go into SQL Server Management Server and play with database and cube security there or execute SQL stored procedures. However, the odds of finding people in the finance group who have those skills are worse than my chances of being stranded on a desert island with Sophia Vergara. This is where SharePoint comes in.
People forget that SharePoint is as much a development platform as it is a finished application. So there are obvious things that we can leverage such as document libraries, versioning, lists and workflow. Yes we could create all our own tables that replicates that type of functionality, but why should we? It is more development work, more testing and more maintenance all to do something that the SharePoint team has already done and done really well.
SharePoint also provides us with a rapid development environment for creating maintenance forms. For instance, lets say I have a custom SQL Server table that I need to populate with some data. Now I could go into Visual Studio and create a custom web page in ASPX or HTML and add the fields to that page and code all the logic for data validation rules then create a custom web-site to host the page and put some security around it as to who can access that page or not. Or I could knock out the same thing using Business Connectivity Services in about 15 minutes and if during the course of an implementation we have a client specific requirement that forces us to add a column to that table, then a trained consultant can make the change without requiring the use of a developer. On top of this I have InfoPath and Forms Server we can use as well.
Finally for those clients who are looking for more we can also leverage all the great BI features of SharePoint at no extra cost and present back not just a Planning solution but a full Corporate Performance Management solution.
Ultimately using SharePoint will let us focus on building the best Planning components we can while not being distracted by having to deal with a lot of the little items that a solution like this requires.