SharePoint is not your problem, It probably is your People and Process
In a meeting with my colleague recently we were discussing about some of the challenges faced by customers who bring in certain tools that are easy to use and are adopted multiple groups in the organization in a frenzy and before you know it there is no method to that madness.
Yes, I am talking about SharePoint.
It was developed primary as a tool to make it easy on IT teams to be able to put together websites (Intranet / Extranet / Internet) quickly as well as implement collaboration better with necessary plumbing pre-built. However, the ease of use drove the adoption. The subsequent releases added features like Document & Records Management, Social Media, Insights and even capability to integrate business data from other existing enterprise applications. The problem with such growth is that people use these tools in ways that they were not originally designed for. Once the product teams realize these new ways of using it, they will tweak the design or redesign the tool to fulfill such requirements. This cycle goes on and leads to the evolution of the product.
Any way, coming back to the challenges of adoption without a strategy and governance leads to chaos. As one of my good friends, a SharePoint Architect, puts it “SharePoint is like a Virus !!!” and it needs to be stopped. While we can argue if comparing it with virus is the right way to describe it, his intention is to say that the adoption rate in organizations is phenomenal. If not controlled, this will spin out of control and in no time will lead to people blaming SharePoint for all the problems. To be honest, this is the case pretty much across the board wherever it is adopted without proper strategy and governance.
To derive the maximum benefit out of the SharePoint implementation, one needs:
- A Good Strategy before you bring in SharePoint to ensure it serves the business purpose
- A proper Information Architecture to implement and configure it the right way,
- A good Application Life Cycle Management Process to ensure the applications are created and managed the right way and more importantly retired, once their purpose is served
- A good process to increase the adoption within the organization
- A good training process to ensure that the IT and End User community is trained to use the tool is used the way it ought to be used and
- Last but not least, a good Governance Process to keep it all in check
While the above points would be true for new adoptions, the same goes to organizations struggling with some of the problems as a result of unplanned adoption. They should take a step back and view at the problems they are facing. More often than not they are because they have not followed one or more things from the list above. While it could take a huge effort to clean up the mess that is already created, it is never too late to start adopting some best practices that would steer them in the right direction over a period of time.
A good resource to start with is provided by Microsoft as part of their Tech Net Resource Center. Good Luck with your efforts and do let me know if I can help in any way.