Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Breaking Point

I'm just back from the Sydney SharePoint User Group session where I presented on how our company uses WSS to run the business. I showed how we do everything from invoicing, timesheeting, expense tracking and project management from within WSS. Particularly when it came to the financial tracking aspects, a common refrain was "Why Bother"? There are so many off-the-shelf packages that do this for you, why would you try building it yourself within WSS?

The answer is that we wanted to see if WSS could handle this. We wanted to know what the pain points are in trying to do this in a real-world scenario, using ourselves as the lab rats. Most of the time we are advising clients how they should be using SharePoint, but we never have to use those systems day-in-day-out. We felt that the experience we would gain from immersing ourselves in the product would stand to us when working with clients.

So what has it been like using WSS as a financial accounting system? Well, we like it, but we are biased. There are some elements that are clunky, but we hope to automate these in the near future. Granted, right now our requirements are relatively simple. This was another point that came up during the session – what happens when we reach "breaking point"?

I find this question particularly interesting. Quite a few people felt that as our business (hopefully) grows, we will reach a point where our WSS financial system will fall apart. I don't disagree. I'm not sure what that breaking-point is, but I think finding it will be a very valuable lesson. I think the biggest danger is that we won't recognize when we have reached that point and will continue this "experiment" beyond its best-before date.

Right now this lab-rat needs to get back into the maze and find out if anyone has moved my cheese.