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Collaboration or Aggravation? Microsoft Office 2010 puts SharePoint front and center, with seamless links to Word and Excel. Now two small-business owners put the tool to the test.

Can't live With It
Craig Asher, principal, Vital Financial, a small venture capital firm in Bethesda, Md.

Craig Asher didn't always look down his nose at SharePoint. When he and his business partner started using the software last year, they were looking forward to being able to easily collaborate and share documents with each other and with their business associates. The problem? There was nothing easy about it.

"We were using SharePoint for about five months, which I thought was long enough," Asher says. "My business partner is not extremelyWeb 2.0 savvy and he was just having trouble getting SharePoint to work."

Asher says SharePoint was not intuitive and was too clunky to use, so he went in search of an alternative. Now Vital Financial uses HyperOffice, an online collaboration platform that Asher says gave his company a 40-percent net savings and better functionality. And he was able to get his partner up and running with minimal training.

The firm uses the tool every day to share documents and pool knowledge about companies being considered for investment.

"We have to look at a lot of different companies and we go through a fairly thorough due-diligence process," Asher says. "We keep track of all the companies we're looking at in our HyperOffice wiki. I never want to go back to SharePoint."

Can't live Without it
Justin Singer, president, SMBology, an IT consulting firm in Houston

With a team of about 20 consultants, SMBology depends on SharePoint to keep every one of them in the loop no matter where they are.

"We're working in a pretty fast-paced environment, so there's a real need for everyone to have good access to information, be able to collaborate and be able to share thoughts and ideas of other people in the organization," says Justin Singer. "We have people in the office and people out of the office that we need to support, and SharePoint is a key aspect of how they work together."

SharePoint's search capability is a reason he believes SharePoint is indispensable. Before Singer deployed the software several years ago, it was difficult to keep track of information that was scattered all over, he says.

And SharePoint's version control makes it easy for employees to find the most up-to-date version of a common document.

Singer says he remains committed to SharePoint because of how well it ties in with the other Microsoft products his business depends on.

"It's incredibly feature rich, and it integrates nicely with what we're already doing," Singer says. "I don't know a single other product on the market that integrates as neatly as SharePoint does."

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