Return on Investment Profile: Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server
Rare Medium is a consulting and investment company focused on Internet services technologies. The company has developed web business plans, on-line brand strategies, broadband and wireless content, and other initiatives for clients including Betty Crocker, Microsoft, Epson, and Stride-Rite. Rare Medium also incubates, invests in, and manages private companies with Internet-focused business models. Rare Medium's team of about 1100 engineers, designers, user interface experts, and sales and administrative personnel work in offices across the United States and in London and Singapore.
Effective project management and innovation are key to Rare Medium's success. To facilitate collaboration and knowledge management, Rare Medium built an intranet running on Microsoft IIS and a number of different applications including Knowledge Track's Knowledge Center, Orbital software, and IFM/Lotus QuickPlace. One-third of the compant's employees are engineers and programmers, so different teams had found systems that worked for them, including shared drives and Web sites - and could write links and viewers to different systems as needed.
As Rare Medium grew, it outgrew its intranet. Those responsible for managing documents were overwhelmed as the volume of information increased, causing bottlenecks. Difficulties in integrating QuickPlace with Exchange and Active Directory made expanding QuickPlace for information sharing an unlikely enterprise solution. Employees were spending more time searching for information they needed as groups found creative yet isolated solutions to their collaboration needs. Rare Medium's recognition that it needed a new system for collaboration and information sharing was driven home by plans to purchase and integrate a new human resources application. Rare Medium needed an application to share and version information in a flexible way that could also be easily linked to other systems and tools.
Rare Medium started looking at the offerings of portal vendors including Brio and Plumtree in the fall of 2000. Because Microsoft had a close relationship with the company, it learned of Rare Medium's search for a better system and suggested it consider the SharePoint Portal (then Tahoe). Late in 2000, Rare Medium tested SharePoint Portal release candidate 1 beta and decided to become an early adopter. On January 1, 2001, Rare Medium replaced its intranet and Knowledge Center with SharePoint Protal RC1 beta. The company has continued to add content and features to SharePoint Portal since January, and is planning to move to SharePoint Portal RC2 beta in April. Web parts link Rare Medium's human resources system, a professional services automation tool, and the QuickPlace sites into SharePoint Portal.
As they are using an early release, Rare Medium's strategy has been to manage expectations of users by providing content and new Web parts as needed - but not to announce a timeline or plan for the future of SharePoint within the organization.
Key Benefit Areas
The company recognized the following key benefits from moving to SharePoint Portal:
Key Cost Areas
Ongoing personnel costs associated with indexing information into SharePoint Portal make up the largest cost item in RareMedium's budget. Other organizations with a less technically savvy user group - or with user barriers to sharing information - may spend more on training and promotion of the application.
Rare Medium believes that SharePoint Portal's basic environment - even in its beta form - is a good intranet portal starter kit. The packaged themes and templates provide a basic framework, and Front Page-like tools have enabled Rare Medium to devolve some application updating responsibilities to administrative - not IT - staff. Rare Medium will continue to watch the development of product releases for improvements in the following:
Calculating the ROI
Rare Medium's return has come from two main areas: reduction of maintenance costs by replacing a number of different custom-linked systems with one coherent one, and increased user productivity from a centralized collaboration and information organization. Rare Medium is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, and as an early adopter had internal Microsoft expertise and free software that most regular customers wouldn't. The cost and benefit estimates of Rare Medium's SharePoint Portal project have been adjusted using Nucleus Research metrics to account for amounts that may have been reasonably associated with the project had Rare Medium not been a close Microsoft Partner. These adjustments include an increase in the consulting and software costs required to deploy SharePoint Portal.
Ian Campbell, Vice President, Nucleus Research gave permission to use this case study at DSSResources.COM on Wednesday, April 18, 2001. For more information check nucleusresearch.com. Posted May 5, 2001. A PDF version of this case is available at www.NucleusResearch.com/research/b8.pdf.