During the third week of November 2012, Microsoft hosted its annual SharePoint conference, an extravaganza of everything and anything that has to do with SharePoint, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. The conference crowd was an avid and passionate group of SharePoint boosters and the buzz around the show was electrifying. People who recently spent their vacation there, might jump to the conclusion that everyone LOVES SharePoint.
However, working with customers all over the world, we often hear the opposite opinion about SharePoint. Typical business users don’t love SharePoint, when forced to use it, many will openly admit their aversion of SharePoint. Why’s that? Here is a list of common reasons why people hate SharePoint:
- Deployment time takes too long – According to a Forrester survey over 40% of respondents reported that deployments ran over the allotted time and approximately 60% of these respondents claimed it was due to technical difficulties. Delays in IT projects such as SharePoint deployments can cause organizations to lose valuable time and money.
- SharePoint can’t be used “out-of-the-box” – Organizations learn that it is very hard to use SharePoint “as is.” They quickly discover that third-party tools are needed to augment SharePoint to address their business requirements. According to AIIM, the biggest on-going technical issue with SharePoint implementation is governance, specifically the management of metadata and taxonomies, and over 54% of organizations are either using or planning to use a third-party add-on product.
- “The proverbial Swiss army knife solution to every content”- From document management, project management, blog, wiki and even corporate intranet; SharePoint promises to delivers on a wide variety of needs, yet the end result is often “nothing more than a landfill for documents.”
- Poor user experience- In a Forrester survey, when enterprises were asked “In what way is SharePoint not meeting your expectations?” over 30% said that their users don’t like the SharePoint experience. 30% said that their end users prefer other tools such as email. This isn’t surprising since the typical business users revert back to their original business workflow once they encounter difficulties with a newly introduced platform.
- Poor mobile device access to SharePoint- In a study done by AIIM, 90% of survey respondents expressed some level of dissatisfaction from SharePoint’s Mobile device access. The business users want to stay productive in the office or on the go.
What Does This Mean?
How can we reconcile these reactions to the tremendous value that SharePoint brings to organizations and to its almost universal deployment? The underlying root cause of people’s dissatisfaction with SharePoint stems from poor preparation and unrealistic expectations about what SharePoint provides ‘out of the box.’
To ensure a successful SharePoint implementation and happy users, employ the following ‘tried and true’ strategies:
- Create a well-defined deployment process that takes into account the needs of not only tech-savvy IT people, but also your typical business users.
- Make sure your project focuses on a business solution and addresses the business users’ needs, such as making it easy to access SharePoint from the office and also when on the road.
- Integrate SharePoint into the typical business users’ everyday workflows.
- Follow Gartner’s advice4 and look to third party tools to plug functional deficiencies in SharePoint.
Following those 4 guidelines, will ensure that even the harshest of critics will fall in love with SharePoint.