Making SharePoint Dead Simple: Access from Email Leaves Users No Excuses

Companies are heavily invested in SharePoint, says Mainsoft’s David Lavenda. But the problem, he says, is getting end users to actually use SharePoint. “You can’t get end users to change their behavior and adopt it. Instead, they revert to email.” That’s where Mainsoft’s harmon.ie for SharePoint, Outlook edition, comes in.

Mainsoft’s harmon.ie is, at its simplest, an email sidebar, but it transforms Microsoft Outlook into a collaboration console, with access to SharePoint document collaboration, email management, and social features within the Outlook and Office Communications Server (OCS) interfaces.

Lavenda demoed a sample Outlook email page (another version integrates specifically with Lotus Notes) with a harmon.ie sidebar. You can see multiple sites, documents, and folders, send email messages, and attach a file from SharePoint, while staying in your email. The solution uses drag-and-drop features, and it’s integrated with the OCS instant messaging (IM).

When you try to send a document to someone, harmon.ie asks if you want to upload to SharePoint and send a link as an attachment. The document gets uploaded to SharePoint, the link gets sent. The link can only be opened by someone who has the proper permissions to access the SharePoint document.

Lavenda says that with harmon.ie, an organization can increase its SharePoint adoption usage just by the sheer time-saving aspect of the solution. “At TechCon, we invited people to upload a document and email it, first with [Outlook] 2007, then with [Outlook] 2010, then with harmon.ie—and measured the time. The results were six times faster with harmon.ie and its drag-and-drop feature.”

Mainsoft’s Jenna Dobkin adds, “Once we make it dead simple, as simple as sending an attachment, people are more likely to come on board.” But there’s another reason for encouraging SharePoint usage over email, she says. “The reason people invest in this software is to drive adoption. But also to improve document management and repositories. And the storage savings—you’re managing and storing only one document. Email storage is not a trivial cost.”

She cites a major company that experienced widespread SharePoint use and had several thousand sites, but despite this stack, “they were sending 73,000 documents a day through email.” After they completed deployment of harmon.ie, she says, “Several months later they showed they had saved 43 percent in document attachments.”

The basic version, available as a separate download by individual, has caught on by word of mouth, Lavenda says. “We’ve seen 10 to 20 employees in an organization and up to thousands download it,” he says. “We have a form for feedback and people are saying ‘where have you been?’”

The Notes product, he adds, has been downloaded by tens of thousands of individuals.

“Many companies are loyal to Notes but want to adopt SharePoint,” he says. “But it’s Enterprise 2.0, which always comes down to the end user and people not changing how they work.”

The enterprise version offers centralized deployment, policy-based provisioning, plus social features. The Outlook enterprise product version is $50 a user per year, on a subscription basis. The Lotus enterprise product version, harmon.ie for SharePoint, Notes Edition, is available via a perpetual license.

Mainsoft is also working on a Google Docs version called harmon.ie for Google Docs Enterprise, which enables people to collaborate on documents over the cloud, in their native file formats, using Google Docs and Microsoft Exchange. Applications to join the Enterprise Partner Program and gain early access to harmon.ie for Google Docs can be made at http://harmon.ie/GoogleDocs/GoEnterprise.

To learn more about Mainsoft’s harmon.ie, visit the product website.

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