18 thoughts on “Don’t Blame SharePoint

  1. SharePoint is looked at far to often (by people like your SI) as a technology solution only. Upgrades are software upgrades – they put in the new disk and push the upgrade button.

    Nope. That’s not it at all. Upgrades are the opportunities to fix some of the things that are lacking, as you point out. If you’re doing an upgrade, it damn well be because there is new functionality that *you actually need*. If there is new functionality, then the isomorphic mapping of the content has to be more complicated than a software upgrade can cover.

    The most successful SharePoint implementations (or upgrades) have the right mix of technical skills, business domain knowledge, and the ECM secret sauce that you and some others possess. (I’m sure I’m missing some other key skills, like design, but those three are indisputable.)


    1. Marc – the sad thing with this particular SI is that they are so much better than what they’ve shown so far; they just didn’t look deep enough and, I suspect, cut some corners to win the business. I’ll have to reassess my level of respect for them (I’ve known them and worked with them for about 8 years, on and off).

      The issues with this project have appeared many times in the past with other platforms. My initial take is that it’s more pronounced with SP because of the relative ease in deploying sites.

      1. I could go on about all this for days, of course.

        The most successful SharePoint usage that I see is where there’s what amounts to an internal consulting capability that serves a number of purposes:
        * Assist any and all SharePoint users of any kind to design, implement, buff up, whatever – anything that they want to do in SharePoint
        * Build shared capabilities based on watching over bullet #1. If 40% of people need a widget, build the widget.
        * Keep vendors on their toes (and honest)
        The most successful ones of *these* that I see are not based in IT, but are made up of a mixed set of skills: technology, process, organization, etc.

        That’s all we need to succeed. Simple, eh?

        SharePoint is not better or worse than any platform, IMO. Any platform tends to have isolationist tendencies, so SharePoint people tend to know what SharePoint does, Jive people tend to know what Jive does, etc. The “it-doesn’t-matter-what-tool” stuff is what makes or breaks it, though.

        SharePoint’s power-to-the-people capabilities are both one of its biggest benefits and its biggest detriments. The people need help to make the most of it.


  2. Welcome to the platform Chris. At least in one regard, SharePoint is just like any other ECM product – if you don’t plan your project, it’s very likely to fail. But hey, that means work for the King’s Army and the King’s Men so maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.

    1. I dunno. I kinda like working on things that make progress, however incremental it may be. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how this works out. It’s a great chance for me to learn something.

  3. Great article! If I could share this 100 times, I would. I would especially share it the government agencies I have worked with over the years because they wanted to focus on design (for awards) over content taxonomy (for users). I finally got my hands on one of Arkansas’ larger state agencies and was given carte blanche to organize as I saw fit. Sure, we had some struggles and it took a very long time (well over a year) but they are still happy with the outcome four years later. Is it perfect? Of course not but it is so much better than it was before. People can FIND what they need any number of ways. I totally agree with your points but it’s frustratingly hard to get the stakeholders on board. Most people have to see it before they get it.

    1. Hi Pat

      Thanks for commenting. Feel free to share away. :-)

      If things go the way I’m planning on this project, buy in ought to come relatively quickly. We’re not starting where I would prefer, but it’s visible enough that any success or failure will be very public in the organization. In this case I think it’s a true domino effect thing. We’ll see.


    1. I’d be be shocked if it were the first time you heard the story. It’s something not bounded by technology choice.

      No, I haven’t been following you. I’m just that little voice in your head saying “Do it. What could go wrong?”

  4. I feel your pain. Part of the problem is that the customers do not WANT to listen to this – they get sold a dream that a product will solve all their problems out of the box with no hard work on their part, and frankly they sign up becuase that is what they WANT to hear.

    Ironically I have just completed a hugh project that was properly scoped, had properly planned, scalable architecture, had a full metadata and file plan (two years work on that alone!), security model etc, and that project is at risk of being abandonded (a consultant has been employed to write an “options” document for the board) because the users “find it too complicated to use compared to a file share” and it “has too many clicks to get to what I want”…

    1. Hi Iain

      I’d love to learn more about that project. I was involved with something similar when I was a consultant at Oracle. In that case, we were able to make some adjustments and get things back on track in about 6 weeks. The project had been comatose for the previous 15 months.


  5. Hi Chris. This is so deja vu with multiple conversations we have had without even having to talk technology. As you know, I am a strong believer that ECM has two pillars, the Business Practice and the Technological Practice. It isn’t rocket science to figure out which is the Cart and which is the Horse. Unfortunately, I believe it will take more time before we see the Cart and the Horse in the right place and hopefully clients learn to engage the right charioteer! Good Luck mate!

    1. Thanks, Sanooj. We’re presenting to the client later today and should have a good indication of which direction things will go. Fortunately, the client PM is an ally and understands what it is we’re trying to accomplish.

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