One of the age-old challenges in project management is keeping all the members of the team on the same page – or even the in the same book – as the project changes and evolves. Long before the concept of a mobile workforce came along, project managers struggled to make sure the latest document, report, or task was available to everyone on the team, or all the cooks…even when they are in the same kitchen.
With the advent of collaboration tools like SharePoint, the task became easier, allowing all the cooks in the kitchen access to the same menu of items. I pick SharePoint because Magenic, as well as a majority of businesses using collaboration software use it. Then, along come mobility tools like smartphones, tablets, etc., and suddenly you’ve got a “to-go” environment and that makes things difficult again. SharePlus can help.
I’ll be honest; I’ve dined on a multitude of different collaboration tools. From the cloud to the desktop, I’ve been on a quest to find one that is just right. While this gives me great reference to compare them all, I haven’t become the master chef of any of them. I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone. Still, I’ve played around with SharePlus enough to share, if you will, the potential and a few pitfalls of bringing SharePoint to the carryout menu.
Available for iOS, Mac, Android, and Blackberry Playbook (if you’re one of the three people that have one) SharePlus comes in the free Lite version or the Pro version for $14.99 in the App Store, Market, or App World. Its maker, Southlabs, also offers an Enterprise version if you want to go all-in with plenty of custom options.
SharePlus Lite is really just an appetizer on this menu. If you want to actually interact with your SharePoint account, don’t even think about going Lite. Jump to the main course and go Pro – the version I sampled. The Lite version allows for plenty of browsing but no real interaction. To get to a point where you can contribute and interact with your SharePoint assets you’ll need to lay down the $14.99. The Enterprise version will allow you to add a la carte items.
I sampled the app on both my iPad and Android. There are differences in the setup between the platforms but ultimately the app gives you a much better experience than accessing SharePoint from your mobile browser…especially in iOS. I had to wrestle a bit with the setup on my Android phone because of a keyboard app I use and the URL windows between iOS and Android require different address formats, but once in, they are nearly identical.
Beyond the basic ability to access and edit documents, tasks and calendars, offline support allows you to select content and store it locally then sync it up once back online. If you’re watching your data plan pennies, this helps. I also really enjoyed the ability to open documents in the third party apps I use like Documents To Go and Evernote.
If your project requires documentation like photos of work done on the move, SharePlus also offers the ability to use the device’s camera and then load them to SharePoint. And while on the go, security is not ignored in the Pro version. All data is encrypted locally and there is a pass lock option available.
Okay, I did experience a crash or two while tooling around SharePlus on my iPad. But this app isn’t alone in that distinction. Beyond the little set up differences and a little quibble with the change of screen view in the portrait mode on the iPad, it accomplishes what it sets out to do. It offers a way to access SharePoint via mobile that surpasses a browser view.
By the way, though I didn’t try it, the app also supports Office 365. I did note some real negative reviews of the app as it pertains to 365 but it appears to have been addressed in some updates.
I’d be anxious to spend more time with the enterprise version as well. According to Southlabs, along with the custom branding, navigation and features options, multi-factor authentication and some other enterprise features are available. Such options could really allow catering to your personal, more discriminating palate.
If you’re using SharePlus or have another app you use to access SharePoint, I’d love to hear from you.