Takeaway: When it comes to document management and collaboration, SharePoint can do just about anything you need it to—given the right infrastructure and applications. In this series of 3 articles, we offer tips for finding the right SharePoint solution for improving productivity and lower costs.

In a recent article, we looked at why SharePoint’s flexible platform is a better choice for most companies that need a customized collaborative and management solution. Missed it? You can read it here.

In a nutshell, SharePoint is powerful and secure web-based platform that allows employees to access, share, collaborate and manage documents, teams, projects and much more. Unlike many other collaborative solutions, SharePoint can be tailored to your organization’s specific needs with the right architecture and applications. It’s also very cost effective, which is largely why SharePoint has become the most popular choice for most SMBs.

So let’s say you’ve looked at all the different options and have decided that your organization could benefit from all the management and productivity boosting features of SharePoint. You’re now ready to migrate (or upgrade to the enhanced functionalities of a more recent version).

The question is: Do you choose SharePoint Foundation, Standard or Enterprise?

Here are 4 tips for making the right choice.

Choosing the Right Edition of SharePoint

Once you’ve decided to make SharePoint your main web-based collaboration and content management platform, you need to determine which edition you want to deploy.

Sometimes this decision can be made simultaneously while considering SharePoint versus other web-based portals, based on the key strategic factors we mentioned in our earlier blog.

But often, choosing the right edition of SharePoint will entail looking at more operational or tactical factors. For example:

1. Out-of-the-box features and capabilities

Microsoft has classified SharePoint’s many tools into 6 main categories: Search, Insights, Content, Sites, Communities and Composites. This is the first thing you should look at because these features vary greatly between editions. For example, if you simply want to introduce social networking within your organization or have certain search capabilities, the standard version will probably suffice. On the other hand, for business intelligence and services such as Access and Excel integration, you’ll need the enterprise edition.


Available features in 2010

Business needs




Sharing (Sites) – Build contextual work environments for sharing information, documents & more both internally and externally.




Social networking (Communities) – Improve communication & understanding around shared knowledge or activities.




Content management (Content) – Manage documents & items that need to be shared, updated, collaborated on, stored, found, archived, restored, etc. according to applicable policies.




Search – Easily find people, sites, content, communities based on keyword, refinement & content analysis




Business intelligence (Insights) – Improve access to valuable business information with intuitive reporting & analysis features to. Empower employees to more effective decisions & streamline IT.




Centralize (Composites) – Manage business solutions, create customized sites & solutions based on workflows & forms… all without code




2. Upgrading or migrating your SharePoint solution?

Make upgrades as smooth as possible:
If you’re already running an earlier version of SharePoint, such as 2007, how far “up” you upgrade may depend on the degree of customization in your existing solution. It might be less disruptive to migrate from SharePoint 2007 to 2010 than directly from 2007 to 2013. Using audit tools before a migration will allow you to see which elements could be lost during the process and to plan/adjust your migration accordingly.

Avoid switching “down”:
If you’re running an earlier version of SharePoint Server, you should probably stick to server, since switching to Foundation would entail losing a fair number of features and customizations you’ve already put into your SharePoint solution.

Make your migration efforts count:
If you’re new to SharePoint, it usually makes more sense to opt for the most recent version since migration is a necessary evil you’ll have to go through regardless of the version you choose. Deploying the most recent version gives you access to the most powerful and productive version of SharePoint, and will lead to smoother upgrades in the future.

3. Cost

Licensing fees vs. ROI:
SharePoint’s Foundation and Server editions differ significantly. Although Foundation comes with lower licensing fees; it also comes with fewer features and less flexibility for customization. While cost is always an important factor, functionality and performance should take precedence. ROI, and not cost-savings, will drive business growth.

4. Future requirements

Plan for tomorrow. What else can SharePoint do for your organization? Do any of these extra functionalities offer any value to your business today? Might they at any point during the platform’s life cycle?
Keep in mind that the choice you make now could leave you with limited capabilities in the future. Trying to get your SharePoint architecture to do something later on that it wasn’t designed to do in the first place could entail significant and unnecessary costs.

Need help? Our SharePoint experts can help you build the right solution. Our Hosted SharePoint 2010 and 2013 plans have no user or bandwidth limitations, come with a low monthly subscription fee, and include free, round-the-clock technical support by email, phone and chat.

In our next article, we’ll look at some of the more important factors to keep in mind when choosing a provider for your hosted SharePoint solution.

Written by Sherweb Employee @ SherWeb