I hear this over and over again. Every once in a while, I get an email from a distraught blog follower complaining and telling me that SharePoint Implementation failed miserably in their organization. The most common culprit – “@#$% SharePoint.” The reality is – it is not SharePoint, but rather other reasons that have nothing to do with the application itself. While every organization is different and there are many factors that impact the success (or failure) of SharePoint, below I would like to summarize some of the common ones that I see from my experience.
Reason # 1: You spent all the $’s on custom coding, development or custom themes
I am quite surprised to see how many organizations get on this bait. The first thing they do when they acquire SharePoint/Office 365 – customize the hell out of it with expensive development and 3rd party themes. This is like buying the draperies for the house that has not yet been built. Don’t get me wrong, custom themes can make SharePoint nicer-looking, but collaboration won’t be improved because of slideshows or fancy menu hovering effects. What will improve collaboration are proper information architecture, metadata, proper site design and clean navigation. This is especially important for those who are in Office 365 (SharePoint Online). Read this post about dangers of over-branding in SharePoint Online.
Reason # 2: You did not spend any time on training
“My employees did not need training on how to use Word, Excel or Dropbox, so they don’t need any SharePoint training.” This is a common phrase I hear from senior management staff and execs. Let me respond to this in the politest form I possibly can: BULLSH*T!
SharePoint is no Word, Excel or DropBox. The complexity of SharePoint easily surpasses that of any of the applications listed above. You would not allow a person to drive a car without proper training, correct? Would you want to fly an airplane, knowing that the pilot did not have any proper training?
So why would you allow your employees to work and share company IP (Intellectual Property) without some training? I am not talking about anything lengthy or expensive here – your employees do not need to necessarily sit through 3 full days of classes. But some training on unique and frequently used features are a must. This won’t take much of valuable time or investment.
Reason # 3: You did not follow best practices on SharePoint Information Architecture
I blogged quite a bit about this before. Even if you pass on custom development and do spend time training, you also need to assure your SharePoint Intranet is setup according to industry best practices. That includes proper site hierarchy, navigation, security, metadata, Term Store configuration, and search.
Reason # 4: You implemented SharePoint as a file share
If you did, I strongly encourage that you close your Office 365 account and switch to DropBox. SharePoint is not and must not be used as a file share. If you are using SharePoint as a file share – you are not really taking advantage of SharePoint as a collaboration tool, you most likely will run into certain technical limitations and SharePoint will never be successful in your organization.
Reason # 5. Personal ego or previous bad experiences with SharePoint
Just like if you had a bad relationship with someone, you should not bring your past into the new relationship. Yes, you or someone else in your organization had a very bad experience with SharePoint 2007 or 2010 in their previous job. I get that! But, you should leave that past in the past. Whatever the reasons were, SharePoint itself has changed drastically since 2007 or 2010. From a cumbersome and complicated application, it has matured into a very modern, sexy and intuitive collaboration platform. Microsoft is releasing updates to SharePoint Online and other Office 365 assets faster than you can say “SharePoint.” So, give it a chance!