J. Boye has just produced a new research report on the ever popular Microsoft SharePoint. This report, Best Practices for Using SharePoint for Public Websites - A Business Person's Guide, outlines some of the thought processes organizations have gone through when selecting SharePoint for their public facing websites, some project recommendations and dispels some of the often heard arguments for a SharePoint-based solution.
A Report For the Business
The report is for non-technical users and it's not an evaluation of the product in general. It assumes you have already made the decision to go with SharePoint for various reasons and offers some cautionary advice on moving forward.
It's also not a report for an organization implementing an intranet. SharePoint is already well-known as an internal collaboration and document management solution. But it's only slowing gaining speed as an option for public facing websites and that's what this report discusses -- SharePoint for public facing websites.
Written by Janus Boye and Dorthe R. Jespersen, the report is 22 pages long -- a perfect reading length -- and is based on interviews with SharePoint experts, consultants and over 30 organizations in Europe, Asia and North America. It's also important to note that Janus is the lead analyst for CMS Watch's Enterprise Portals Report and a contributing analyst for their SharePoint Report and Web CMS Report. So it's safe to say he has just a little bit of experience in this area.
Some Interesting Findings
SharePoint is Driven from IT
Today, as we all know, SharePoint is one of the most talked about and implemented content management systems with over US$ 1 billion in sales worldwide. But it's only starting to gain momentum as a solution for public facing websites. As this report indicates, many organizations have selected Microsoft as a strategic development platform. This is generally leading IT to view SharePoint as the appropriate and only choice for a CMS solution.
The result is that IT is driving the decision to use SharePoint and not the business, which leads to concerns that SharePoint is not being evaluated against the real business needs. It also leads to concerns that budgets are not developed appropriately and that other options for a CMS are not being considered. All of this of course leads to not planning carefully and most often disappointment as issues with a public facing SharePoint implementation are sure to arise -- particularly in the areas of customizations and user interface design.
Arguments for Using SharePoint
Probably one of the most interesting sections in the report deals with the three most common arguments organizations have for implementing SharePoint including:
* Synergy with MS Office
* Match for current and future requirements
* A Safe choice in terms of vendors and product viability
We won't give away the details on how these arguments are dispelled but suffice it to say that organizations do tend to over think some issues and under think others resulting in decisions that are not always the best for their needs.
Using Integration Partners
You'll also read some interesting findings on SharePoint integration partners and their relationship with Microsoft and vice versa. The recommendations is made to have Microsoft play a role in these types of projects because SharePoint is still so relatively new -- it's only been out for 18 months -- only they have insights that can help with many decisions on approach.
Mind you, there have been many questions on whether Microsoft themselves know their own product well enough to support it.
Governance is Critical
Another important theme is that governance is critical with a SharePoint implementation. Not just governance from an IT perspective, but even more important from a business perspective. We are always encouraging organizations to implement CMS's in a phased approach. This could not be a truer recommendation for SharePoint. A careful, phased plan and strong business led governance model is critical if your implementation is to be successful. After Implementation - Sharing Lessons Learned The report also notes that although from an IT standpoint, lessons learned on SharePoint implementations are often shared outside the organization, they are not equally shared from a business perspective. There is a lot of information and support available on the web for technical issues with SharePoint, but not so much from a business use perspective. This is where it's becoming important to focus attention.
A SharePoint Report to Get
This report is a must read for anyone who has selected SharePoint as the CMS for their public facing site. It's actually a good read for an organization implementing any CMS for both public and internal websites because many of themes can be applied to selecting and working with any solution or website.
The focus on SharePoint as it moves further into the public facing web is important as organizations who have implemented it internally don't realize the potential challenges that come with a public facing SharePoint site.
The report costs EUR 135.00 or roughly US$ 200 and can be purchased online. Lucky for our readers, you can get a discount if you enter a Coupon Code "cmswire1". Note that this report is vendor neutral and not funded by any third parties that could affect the findings.
You can also get J.Boye's report on Wikis in the Enterprise - a good discussion on considering a wiki for internal collaboration.
Have you started a public facing SharePoint implementation? Do these findings validate your experiences? Let us know.