Why I Hate SharePoint
It Takes Too Much Effort To Get Value From SharePoint
Blog Part 7 of 10
Welcome to the 7th in a series where I’m discussing (and hopefully debunking) some common reasons why people say they hate SharePoint. You can do an internet search for “sharepoint hate” and one of the things you commonly find is that people think SharePoint takes too long to become a valuable enterprise tool. They say that it takes too much time and effort to plan, build, and configure. This is no surprise to me. For decades users are accustomed to purchasing a product off the shelf that to some degree meets their needs. Some of you will remember back to the days when you went to the local store and browsed the shelves to buy software in a box. Shortly after that you could order a compact disk online. But, I digress. The point is, you could purchase a prebuilt solution in a box and you conformed to the features of the software. SharePoint is not a prebuilt solution to meet all your needs. I like to say that “It’s a solution that you build solutions with”.
With older versions of SharePoint, when it was installed it was similar on some levels to Excel or PowerPoint. There was a blank worksheet or presentation where you could create what you wanted. A budget spreadsheet or a killer presentation. But these were not already built for you. You had to spend time planning and then designing. I don’t know what users expected of SharePoint. Perhaps like the software that used to be purchased in a store, users expected SharePoint to be a solution to every problem. Maybe even a problem they didn’t know they had. SharePoint is a platform of many common technologies where you build a solution to meet your business requirements. You look at your roadblocks and pain points and then design a plan to build a solution to solve your problems. While there are similar and common business problems across organizations, there is no way one software/solution could meet the myriad of problems faced by companies. It’s crazy to think one solution or one button could address everyone’s needs. So, Microsoft gave us an evolving product that allows us to build our own solutions without requiring skillsets like programmers and software developers. Even I can build a SharePoint site and the only code I ever wrote was in Basic.
SharePoint takes a great deal of Planning and Governance if you want it to address many of your collaboration headaches. These require input from everyone that will use SharePoint. End Users should be involved in the planning process. They are in fact the final customer that will determine whether SharePoint solutions have value and improve their jobs. But SharePoint can provide value very quickly without a great deal of effort. There are a few templates that allow you to quickly create a place to share documents and have conversations. Just these two features can minimize a great deal of the pain experienced by teams. You can quickly create a Project site that gives the project team a place to visualize work taking place on a project and update the status in real-time.
While the simple collaboration site or project site will not meet the needs of everyone in the organization, they certainly can show immediate value to skeptical information workers. Now in SharePoint online, Microsoft has made it even easier to hit the ground running and show immediate value with the new top-level Communication Site and Team Site templates. The classic site templates are still available for subsites, but these new top-level sites allow you to show value quickly. The Communication Site template allows you to publish dynamic, beautiful content to people in your organization to keep them informed and engaged on topics, events, or projects. The Team Site template allows you to share documents, have conversations with your team, keep track of events, manage tasks, and even more through connectivity to the Office 365 apps.
The bottom line on this one is: SharePoint is a complex platform that requires a great deal of planning and governance. It can change the way an organization does business and will undoubtedly improve the way teams collaborate and work together. But it doesn’t take months or years to begin to see return on investment. SharePoint will evolve over time into a full-featured solution, but you can pick some of the features and implement them right away to show value and to pique the interest of your most skeptical business users.