The job of how to implement SharePoint in an organization should not be in the hands of the IT department. It belongs with the business and the backing of executive decision makers. Here's why.
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Our SharePoint implementation was unsuccessful because management just doesn't get it! Our CIO decided one day that I'm the SharePoint guru because I'm the Windows system administrator in our company. I was asked to install and deploy SharePoint to our 500 users within three months. This was a year ago and today, as you can imagine, SharePoint is not being fully utilized, users still can't find what they need and management is questioning why SharePoint is not delivering its promise of improved collaboration.
...lamented a systems administrator after one of my recent talks. Does this sound familiar?
In a lot of organizations, it’s quite common to see IT getting the blame for poor SharePoint implementation and adoption. However, equally responsible are high-level decision makers who made the decision to roll out SharePoint yet don't have a clear understanding of the value it brings to the organization.
Here are five reasons why executive SharePoint ignorance is not bliss:
1. SharePoint is More Than a Glorified Network Share
Organizations today primarily utilize SharePoint as a file-sharing repository. In addition, it may have been haphazardly deployed by IT because management told them to. Strategic planning never happened and it’s just another tool that was thrown out there for the enterprise.
In my experience, there is a lack of awareness amongst executives that SharePoint is an enterprise platform. In fact, Microsoft defines SharePoint 2010 as ”the business collaboration platform for the Enterprise and the Web”.
SharePoint is much more than just a document management tool, it can be used for enterprise line of business needs such as: Intranet Portals, Reporting, Business Intelligence, Content Management, Workflow Automation, Records management, Public-facing websites, etc. For more details, read “Empowering Your Organization with SharePoint” whitepaper that showcases various examples on how SharePoint can be leveraged.
More importantly, SharePoint can empower everyone in an organization (mostly non-technical individuals) to deploy software-based solutions without IT intervention. Here’s a video showing how a project manager can benefit from SharePoint:
2. It's All About the Benjamins
With tight budgets these days, how organizations spend their money is put under a microscope. That’s why it is critical for any decision maker to be fully aware of the benefits SharePoint can bring to an organization.
It is paramount that a strategic business case is developed to justify why investing in SharePoint can provide quantifiable organizational benefits. Better collaboration is a great benefit, but what does that mean in dollars and cents?
For example, a key area of inefficient collaboration in any organization is the practice of sending meeting invitations with document attachments. Even worse, once the meeting convenes and action items are generated, the typical method of collaboration for completing actions items is still email. Don’t you love it when you are copied on emails with a lot of attachments even if it has nothing to do with you?
If we assess this scenario, apart from IT overhead in storage, bandwidth, support and maintenance, what about business inefficiencies? How much time do people spend daily scouring through their email because they can't find relevant information? What if you have to subscribe to legal compliance like SOX? Can relevant information be easily audited?
Knowing of this business pain, you can map to how SharePoint can provide a better solution. Out of the box it comes with meeting workspaces that can serve as the repository for meeting related artifacts. Not only would the relevant information be stored in a single location, it is limited to the key individuals involved in the meeting.
This means that when meeting invitations are sent, there’s no need to send document attachments anymore. Information about the meeting can be searched. So if somebody took off and is on vacation, the information we need is not sitting on their email inbox.
The point is, decision makers have to be involved with strategically prioritizing business needs that can be addressed by SharePoint. Apart from investing in the technology (licenses, hardware, etc.), investment in planning, governance and adoption is necessary to be successful.
The last thing you want to do is squander your investment by throwing tools at your users, expect them to find a problem to fix and be able to quantify the benefits for you.