SharePoint is a big topic these days. With the release of SharePoint Server 2007, analysts everywhere are trying to get a grasp on its reach into the enterprise and the issues surrounding its implementation.
According to the latest from Osterman Research, SharePoint is becoming the de facto collaboration platform for many organizations today.
Study Results for SharePoint Prove Positive
The Osterman study sought to determine trends in the use of SharePoint over the next 12 months. Results of the study indicate that in organizations that deployed Microsoft Exchange, more than half are currently using SharePoint and 12 percent plan to deploy it in the next 12 months.
The number of organizations that employ SharePoint for mission-critical applications is less than 20 percent, a figure expected to double over the next year. Meanwhile, the number of SharePoint applications will quadruple.
This is a result of the technology becoming more widely deployed and ingrained in the work habits of users. And if there's anything Microsoft knows well, it's how to ingratiate itself with the enterprise.
The study also noted that most deployments are hosted by third-party hosting providers. Organizations for the most part don't have plans in place for hosting SharePoint applications.
What they do have -- at least, one-third of the surveyed companies -- is corporate policies focusing on the need to manage, regulate or purchase SharePoint solutions.
But many organizations still have these policies at the departmental level.
Therefore according to this research, SharePoint is an enterprise darling (particularly among Exchange-enabled organizations). And why is SharePoint so attractive?
Because Microsoft has taken collaboration and enterprise content management capabilities, mixed in some portal functionality and search capabilities, and then integrated the whole thing with Office.
To many IT managers, implementing SharePoint is a no-brainer.
But is SharePoint Truly Viral?
The recent CMSWatch ECM Suites Report says that SharePoint is an ECM virus with "IT departments enthusiastically promoting SharePoint, since end users and departments can install and run these small repositories themselves".
In their research, CMSWatch found SharePoint is implemented in a more ad-hoc fashion with little compliance or controls on it's use - thus the term "virus".
This can lead to serious problems for an enterprise that may not have budgeted for the compliance and archiving software now required to support the widespread individual implementations.
The difference between these two studies comes primarily in how SharePoint is used. As a collaboration tool, it's widely accepted. As an enterprise content management tool, there tends to be cause for concern.
However, in both cases content is stored and managed while the result of doing it willy-nilly is the same - trouble with a capital T.
Governance Becomes the Key Definition for a Successful SharePoint Implementation
Most devs like the idea of being left to do their job. But a lack of a shared content management vision can lead to compliance issues, archiving problems and a true lack of information management.
Technology is supposed to support an enterprise, not drive it. It's an enabler. That means an organization should be carefully thinking about its business strategy and how its available resources assist that strategy.
This is when IT pitches in and helps execs understand how a given technology can push the business strategy forward.
With this in mind, governance becomes the critical success factor in a SharePoint implementation plan. Whether it's implemented at the department or enterprise level, as a collaboration or a content management platform; a governance plan must be in place to support the content stored in SharePoint.
At the end of the day, SharePoint is still a lot cheaper than many other enterprise CMS systems. Thus it makes sense that organizations want to take advantage of it for content management and collaboration.
However, with great power comes great responsibility.
Organizations looking to implement SharePoint just need to remember this one word: governance. It's not a big word, but it carries a big stick.