One way to bullet-proof your career, as you’ve probably heard many times during the achingly slow economic recovery, is to make sure you understand your company’s core business processes. IT pros who can support business objectives with cost-effective, efficient IT strategies can directly affect a company’s profitability. One of the best examples of IT practices influencing—if not determining—a company’s success might be SharePoint deployment and management. No other Microsoft product promises so much to business leaders looking for innovative processes and to IT pros who support those business leaders as well as an army of end users. Businesses use SharePoint most commonly for document management and storage, team collaboration, and Web portal and intranet development—all of which are high-profile functions requiring high availability, ease of use, and tight security.

 In recent studies we’ve conducted, about 44 percent of our readers say that SharePoint is a “very important application” for the organization’s operation, and about one-third say that it’s a mission-critical application. About half of the readers surveyed work with SharePoint along with other IT-related responsibilities, and about one-quarter focus exclusively on SharePoint.  Given the importance of the SharePoint platform to business processes and the commensurate alignment of IT resources, you’d think that SharePoint would be the magic business bullet.

But as every IT pro knows, the magic is in the implementation. A carefully planned and well-executed SharePoint deployment can yield significant business benefits, including easier information access, better communication, IT time savings, increased end-user productivity, document version control, and savings in Web development resources. But IT pros report that they have to overcome numerous barriers—some related to hardware and software deficiencies and some related to organizational problems—to realize those benefits. IT pros grapple with SharePoint implementation problems that include slow system performance, inadequate data protection, inefficient IT management practices required to support the SharePoint environment, problems with migrating data from disparate sources into SharePoint, and slow data backup and recovery processes.

If SharePoint management consumes your day, you probably have successfully navigated through many pitfalls and are now the company IT hero or you’ve set up your own lucrative consulting practice. But if you just need to solve today’s pressing SharePoint problem, or you have a short-term SharePoint project to execute in the coming weeks, you might find the following information resources helpful.

Do you need to get up to speed on SharePoint—fast? If you have a short-term SharePoint project looming, and you’re starting from scratch from a SharePoint knowledge perspective, an intensive short course could get you up and running. Check out the SharePoint Collaboration Boot Camp, an intensive workshop taught by Dan Holme as part of our six-city SharePoint Connections Coast to Coast Tour running through April and May. The fast-paced workshop is intended for seasoned IT pros who are new to SharePoint or who are migrating from previous platforms. For a complete workshop description, go to www.devconnections.com/sptour.     

Do you need to integrate SharePoint and Outlook for end users? You can extend SharePoint’s document management and collaboration functionality by integrating it with Outlook. Check out our Pocket Guide to Integrating Outlook and SharePoint at our online store: http://www.left-brain.com/product.aspx?productid=1283.

Do you need to integrate SharePoint with SQL Server’s BI functionality? Stacia Misner can show you how to use SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) 2008 R2 in SharePoint integrated mode, which means you’ll  have only one security model to manage and business users will have only one environment in which to create, find, and share information. Check out her article from SQL Server Magazine

Do you need to migrate to SharePoint 2010? Check out Randy William’s step-by-step guide.

Do you need to ensure that your SharePoint implementation is secure? Get a better understanding of the new claims-based security model in SharePoint 2010.

Do you need to keep your SharePoint database running smoothly? Matt Ranlett and Brendon Schwartz guide you through a list of standard maintenance tasks to keep SharePoint spinning like a top.

Do you need quick answers to specific SharePoint problems? Search our SharePoint FAQs at www.sharepointproconnections.com/FAQs.aspx, subscribe to our SharePoint email newsletter at www.windowsitpro.com/email, and subscribe to our bimonthly SharePointPro Connections magazine—free.

Becoming a SharePoint expert overnight isn’t a reasonable goal, but you can quickly build sufficient SharePoint skills atop your existing IT expertise to make the platform meet your company’s expectations for driving the business forward. Have you recently had a successful breakthrough with SharePoint? Let me know about your SharePoint experiences at michele.crockett@penton.com.