How SharePoint’s Approach to Apps Can Benefit Your Business

Learn about the different approaches to building an enterprise platform and find out which model is best for your business

In the business world, admins and industry observers recognize two basic approaches to developing a custom enterprise application platform: the All-In-One solution and the Best-of-Breed solution.

The all-in-one solution is exactly like it sounds—all app functionality is put under one large “umbrella” system—whereas the best-of-breed approach is more like a hodgepodge of the best parts from various systems combined into one solution. Each strategy has benefits, and each has drawbacks as well.

Why Apps?

Before we dive deeper into the different app models for businesses and which is best, perhaps you are wondering why you might use an app in the first place. Just like an app for a smartphone, an enterprise app is an individual, lightweight web application that enhances and enlarges the existing features of software. In addition, SharePoint apps give developers the ability to make their SharePoint site more flexible by leveraging all of the great functions they enjoy from their “non-SharePoint” solutions.

Other benefits of SharePoint apps include:

  • Familiar and easy-to-use programming platform. Developers can use whatever markup language they are most comfortable with—HTML, JavaScript, PHP, .NET, etc.

  • Device-targeted development. SharePoint apps have a similar development platform whether they are targeting mobile phones, tablets or computers, making it easy to edit different processes efficiently and productively.

  • Multiple hosting options. Developers can choose to host apps in their own web stack or on SharePoint. An app can even have some components stored in SharePoint while others are kept in the “cloud.”

  • Optimized user experience. Apps bring the same high caliber of UX/UI features as your SharePoint website, just with greater flexibility. Furthermore, they are easy to install, use and upgrade.

There are many more advantages to managing apps with SharePoint, but now let’s take a look at the different app models commonly used by businesses.

Approach #1: All-In-One

All-in-one solutions are typically very broad, expansive enterprise platforms that have all of the necessary functions and capabilities needed to run a company or organization. Also known as enterprise resource planning or ERP systems, these comprehensive solutions vary in size and purpose depending on the vendor. For instance, some are installed, web-based software, while others are client-focused, cloud solutions.

While some companies prefer the simplicity of sourcing all their apps and functions from a single system, the downside is that no one company is good at everything. So even if the ERP system works for most of your organization, we have seen time and time again that invariably there is always at least one department has issues with it.

Approach #2: Best of Breed SharePoint App

To compensate for the umbrella approach that leaves some departments “out in the rain,” businesses can instead choose a best-of-breed environment. Best-of-breed solutions pull together certain functions and applications from various systems into a single environment. These functions are usually selected based on their strength and usefulness to the business’s processes. For example, in a best-of-breed approach, you might see up to 10 different applications ranging from data reporting to content management to billing, all running under one system.

However, some common side effects of this pick-and-choose approach are user experiences that lack continuity and overly complicated data transfer between applications. This disorganization also tends to prolong training and make troubleshooting problematic.

Approach #3: A Bit of Both

Wait, there’s a third option? Yes—one that combines a little bit of both the all-in-one and the best-of-breed approaches. This combination is Microsoft SharePoint.

While SharePoint has typically been categorized as a best-of-breed solution in the past, new features unveiled in the SharePoint 2013 upgrade have extended the capabilities of the popular enterprise collaboration software to give it some of the benefits of ERP systems as well.

Through SharePoint, the flexibility of developing apps in any language and the ability to consume other system functions is paired with tools that enable developers to improve the end-user interface, reduce user confusion and bring everything under one SharePoint environment. This combination blends the best of both app models, making application development manageable and affordable for a wide range of businesses.

Interested in learning more about how to find the best enterprise solution model for your business? Innovative Architects offers a wide range of web-based application services for organizations seeking to harness modern technology solutions like Microsoft SharePoint to maximize their potential. Whether it’s optimizing your existing platform, or creating a new custom solution that addresses your needs, we’ve got you covered.

Talk to a SharePoint architect today about upgrading your business to SharePoint 2013, or continue browsing our SharePoint blog and knowledge resources to learn more.