If you went through this thought process, you might have realised that by now that it has taken you nowhere: your company SharePoint does not quite look like what you had envisaged; usage never really took off or users are deserting one by one; the IT department has lost some credibility and your own reputation is at stake.
SharePoint regularly gets some bashing, and, while this might be due to genuinely failed client installs, I don’t believe for one second that this is a SharePoint problem. My 10+ years of experience working with it have taught me that these regrettable situations are more so about how organisations approach the build, deployment and support of SharePoint.
Here are some of the most common pitfalls I have come across in my career:
1. “SharePoint is easy” (Lack of expertise)
Indeed, using SharePoint out of the box looks easy. But it is in fact feature-rich and Microsoft sets the standard higher with each new release. Each organisation has unique goals, requirements and challenges, so out of the box turns out very often to be unsatisfactory and unsuitable.
SharePoint has an incredible potential, and a solid information architecture is crucial. But figuring out how to utilise all or the most relevant features effectively can be an overwhelming exercise. It requires effort, time, resources, skills and focus – therefore a dedicated team of experts knowledgeable in the multi-faceted characteristics of the product’s features is vital.
Organisations rarely recognise this and rarely invest in it. At Codec-dss, we can help you lay out a specific plan to best structure your IA efforts, in order to optimise your chances of success.
2. “SharePoint will fix everything” (Lack of strategy and roadmap)
Very often, we focus on the technology itself and expect too much from it. We naively think that a miraculous application can solve all of an organisation’s headaches and glitches. But let’s not underestimate ourselves: it is what we make of technology and how we apply it to business opportunities that produces return on investment.
The classic mistake for many companies is to implement SharePoint without having properly defined what they are going to do with it, and without developing a solid roadmap and related implementation strategy.
Rather than the product and the technology used, the focus needs to be first on existing business processes, i.e. on identifying precisely how things get done in any department/team. Engaging business analysts at every step in this process is key. Adjustments can then be made to design the “perfect” process using SharePoint.
3. “We don’t have time to involve too many users” (Poor user adoption)
As I touched on briefly above, some adjustments will be needed. And we all know that people can be quite if not very against change. One sure way to avoid or reduce this opposition from users – and therefore to avoid running the risk of a poor user adoption – is to involve them, from the start. Defining the right SharePoint Governance is critical to a successful implementation, and encouraging users to assess processes from both a business and technical perspective could save your project.
4. “SharePoint is governed by the IT department”
An effective Governance Plan determines that the system is managed and used in accordance with its designed intent, to prevent it from becoming an unmanageable system.
The management of an enterprise-wide system involves both a strategic, business-minded board to craft rules and procedures for the use of the system, and a tactical, technically-competent team to manage the routine operational tasks that keep the system running.
Users of the system will be empowered by a support and developer community within the organisation.
The SharePoint Governance Plan document should contain the following:
- Policy definitions defined with the help of organisation Architects and stakeholders.
- Teams that define and enforce policies, roles, and responsibilities associated with the SharePoint environment.
- SharePoint Server 2013 features used to enforce policies.
The Governance Plan should only contain policies that can and will be enforced.
And don’t lose sight of the end goal: if users are comfortable and satisfied, they’ll become more productive, and will also feel that they have a say and a stake in the future of the company SharePoint, which will grow and become more of an Enterprise platform.
For me, the main take away should be that it’s all about people. Then about technology. Not the other way round. If you have decided to significantly invest in SharePoint, turn your attention and investment towards your people AND partners.
Luke Kennedy has over 10 years’ experience in SharePoint and Microsoft technologies. Luke has worked on some of the largest and most successful SharePoint/Microsoft solutions in Ireland. Many of his projects have been in financial institutions.
Over the years, Luke has developed a methodology that ensures the successful delivery of clients’ needs, and allows his team to develop solutions that not only meet clients’ requirements but produce a tangible return on their investment.
Codec-dss is an award-winning Microsoft Solutions partner. Our team of dedicated consultants possess both business and technical skills and understand the full Microsoft suite in-depth, allowing them to deliver best-in-class comprehensive solutions to our clients.
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