Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

Many people have asked me if I think SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?  It’s a great question to ask but it is harder to give the right answer based on my experiences with SharePoint creating strategies, leading project teams, implementing  governance frameworks or just using the many features.

I have seen with each SharePoint version – 2003 to 2013 – how some new features help but other features can hinder how an organisation needs to use it….but one thing is clear, Microsoft don’t package up ‘good’ or ‘bad’ versions of SharePoint.

I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Here are five factors that can help you decide if SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’:

Strategy

It is important you have a strategy for your intranet or digital workplace that SharePoint can be shown will help to achieve. A strategy helps set the direction you are moving in.  It helps identify key priorities you need to achieve to help your organisation.  Timescales also help to manage expectations and show what is practical from what is aspirational.

You should not just have a SharePoint strategy.  That can lead to you delivering technology solutions that don’t meet the aims of your organisation or cover wider aspects of cultural change.  Your strategy must not be based on SharePoint: it should be wider and align with your organisation’s overall strategy and related areas e.g. IT, Comms, HR, etc. and measure the benefits.

Governance

You need to have a governance framework that underpins your strategy in the long and short term.  This means having clear roles and responsibilities, linking these together into a hierarchy with publishing standards, training and processes for new content editors.

Without a governance framework people could be unclear on the purpose of each SharePoint tool e.g. MySite, TeamSite, and how is the best and most appropriate way to use them.  Without a governance framework there can be chaos and a digital mess that can be very difficult to untangle and gain any benefit from for a long time.

Planning

Have a clear plan for why you need to use SharePoint, what you need to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and when you need to complete each phase by.  This helps you to see what is the best approach and prioritise the way you introduce SharePoint to people in your organisation.

If you are planning to replace many existing online tools e.g content and document management systems and/or collaborative tools it is critical that you consider the impact that actions taken in an earlier phase could have knock-on effects during a later phase (which maybe 1-2 years ahead) e.g. permissions, SharePoint Designer.

Without any plan the consequences for your organisation and people’s online experience could be disastrous.  SharePoint is a very powerful tool and needs to be managed carefully!

education

You need to have a strong communication and training approach to anyone who will be touched by SharePoint whether that is your CEO, content editor or casual user or contributor.

People publishing and using SharePoint information need to appreciate that it is not all the same in its value (something I will be writing about in the future) e.g. a policy is unlikely to change frequently and be inaccurate but an opinion expressed in a discussion group may be inaccurate, incomplete, change next day.

People need to understand the differences in the information they use and behave accordingly in their judgement and actions based on how much value they place on it.

SharePoint is more than a change of technology, it can change business policies, processes and how people behave when they have a problem or want to share some helpful information.

business need

I have heard how IT have approached the business saying “we have this free tool option on top of X product that we’ve bought which we’re going to use for Y purpose”.  It’s a natural reaction to test out something for free but many organisations have found it doesn’t work out the way it is planned.

Firstly, you need to make sure you have a business problem that SharePoint is a good (note I didn’t say the best) technology solution to solve.  Sometimes I have seen the introduction of SharePoint create problems that didn’t exist before.

Make sure you involve people who will be affected by any changes you plan to make as early as possible who can also test these to see if they do help as you expect SharePoint to and feedback any issues to be acted upon before it is launched.

Your organisation needs to be clear on what the problems and their root causes are before considering whether technology, and if so, which solution e.g. SharePoint can best help resolve the problem.

summary

I hope this can help you to appreciate there are factors that influence why people feel SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ apart from the technology itself.  It is more likely to be how you have approached and implemented SharePoint rather than the tools and features people can use that affects your view when you think about it more deeply.

Please leave a comment with your views and contact me if I can help in any way.

11 responses to “Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

  1. Great post. I especially agree with involving anyone who will be affected by the changes.
    i’ve found that SharePoint is usually quite a change to the average user’s workflow so they need to be prepared for the significant shift ahead.
    The good news is, I’ve never had a user not appreciate the benefits that a successful SharePoint rollout can offer.

  2. Agree with your analysis – and I’m dealing with the legacy of not doing some of the above.

    The only criticism I would land fairly on Microsoft is overselling; for example – with the best will in the world SP2010 is not social

    • Hi Louise,

      I agree it isn’t truly social but I guess many organisations took the view it was ‘good enough’ and fitted nicely with rationalising the range of technology for each online business need – different CMS, DMS, blog, wiki, etc, – with the cost savings made. Microsoft never change in their marketing or selling and it isn’t the best social tool.

      I remember when SharePoint 2010 was first shown to me thinking “Wow, this can do ALL of these things!” Like many other intranet professionals it was the first time I had seen a tool be able to meet so many different business needs for publishing, collaborating, search, people finder, etc. It may be difficult to manage and there are certainly better tools for each tool but it does have a strong appeal for attempting to give a consistent user experience.

      Keep winning with your legacy dealings!

      Mark

  3. Interesting, I don’t ever remember thinking “Wow” in relation to sharepoint (maybe SP2013??). We had a wish list – SP2010 did more on the list than SP2007, but still missed some vital pieces such as in-line discussion (which any discussion board could do at the time). So it was a satisfactory choice, that passed our security and due diligence requirements.

  4. I’m not sure in 2013 that I would say “Wow” now but at the time it gave me something that no other technology could. as I say it wasn’t the best but like you it was good enough to meet requirements when I was at BT and has also done so with other clients I have worked with since leaving BT.

    SP 2013 is more social but still not best of breed for this area.

  5. Very sound advice, especially around the need for business requirements to drive the technology not and the Governance piece. It is essential to train all your people how to use SharePoint rather than relying on the few early adopters, who tend to leave the majority behind.

    • Thanks Chris. I agree you do need to train everyone using SharePoint. That can be online or face to face depending on their needs.

      Early adopters are good at giving advice on discussion groups that others can follow and build upon.

  6. Pingback: Valuing information tip 4: finding it more easily | Mark Morrell Intranet Pioneer

  7. Pingback: SharePoint: what does good look like? | Mark Morrell Intranet Pioneer

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