Is SharePoint the right tool? As long as you govern.
I turned blue earlier today as I tried to hold back my comments and watch two individuals (both mid-level web experts) argue over whether the enterprise should use SharePoint or an alternative portal platform for their content needs. This would have been a valid conversation had it not become obvious that neither individual understands SharePoint, its purpose, nor its limitations.
As more and more organizations contemplate the perceived (or actual) low cost of SharePoint, these conversations are growing louder. Too many digital experts, and their bosses, are worrying about how to make SharePoint work. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen successful implementations. But I have also seen failures. And the majority of them stem from a fundamental misunderstanding: it is not about the codes and the bytes, it is about the information (or content if you will), the people, and the processes. In other words, it is about governance (digital governance, not SharePoint governance!)
Several months ago I saw an organization cancel a SharePoint project after numerous attempts to define it. Sadly, they lost the budget because they could not define what “it” was that they wanted to build. Sorely lacking was governance, that guiding pillar that makes everyone chant the same message. And lacking was an understanding of what information was to be managed. And until an organization understands the need to spend time and resources identifying the information, people, and process, no argument, use case, nor shouting off the rooftop will make the situation a success.
You may be smirking by now, saying to yourself “Well, all of this is true for any website or online channel, for any content management system, any information management tool.” And you are right. However, SharePoint quantifies this problem by its sheer presence in organizations (the tool long ago passed the $1 billion revenue mark). And with no signs of the mammoth stopping, it is likely that you too are or will be working out some of these issues soon. So all hail SharePoint!