Hello from my room in a rather nice hotel overlooking the river Thames in London, where I am staying for the International SharePoint Conference ☺

This article is the beginning of the end as we move on to the final element of Art of SharePoint Success framework, Transition. Transition is the umbrella term that I use to include change management and user adoption. As a former colleague of mine used to say, it’s about moving the organization from the old world to their new world.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I am sure that you’ll know this is article 16 in the Art of SharePoint Success, a four point framework for ensuring a long term return on your SharePoint investment. The four elements of the framework are:

  1. Governance
  2. Strategy
  3. Architecture
  4. Transition

Why There’s No Such Thing as a SharePoint Project

One of my most often used clichés is, “There’s no such thing as a SharePoint project, there are only organizational change projects.”

No organization ever implements technology for the sake of the technology, and technology delivers absolutely no value unless its applied to an organizational problem or opportunity. The only reason for an organization to implement technology is to achieve change. Fact!

You’re free to try and come up with contrived scenarios in which technology is implemented for the sake of it, but you won’t be able to find one. We’ll all wait whilst you try…

Why You Really Need to Care about Transition

You’ve probably heard the statistic that 70 percent of IT based projects "fail"? This is based on well-established research by the Standish Group amongst others and although it’s a bit more complicated than the glib statement suggests, it is broadly true.

But that research is focused on project delivery. It doesn’t take into consideration whether or not the thing delivered is actually used, or delivers any business value. There appears to be less research in that area but I’ve seen at least one claim that of the 30 percent of projects that are successfully delivered only 13 percent of those are adopted. (I admit I am playing fast and loose with statistics, but it’s an interesting thought.)

Over the past five years I’ve met probably hundreds of clients who have told of change initiatives that failed because people didn’t use the technology. One London based client in the media and communications sector told me, “SharePoint exists in our business, but no one uses it.” 

In 2009 I worked with a London based insurance firm who told me that they had spent over one million pounds (US$ 1.969 million) creating a portal for underwriters which aggregated information from several line of business applications. A year after launch only 3 percent of the user base were using the Portals. The rest were continuing to use the line of business applications.

In 2011 I was working with one of the largest banks in the UK which wanted to deploy an employee portal based on SharePoint 2010 Mysites, a project with a budget in excess of one million pounds. In one of the early project meetings I learned that they already had 44,000 SharePoint 2007 MySites deployed but, “No one uses them.” When I asked why it was thought that the new MySites would be any more successful I was told, “Because they are SharePoint 2010 and there’s lots of new features.

You may well laugh but organizations around the world waste millions and millions of pounds in this way. They implement the technology but fail to transition the organization from the current state to a desired state.

SharePoint, Change and Change Management

SharePoint can bring a number of different types of change to an organization. It’s not unique in that respect, the same can probably be said of nearly all information technologies. But SharePoint’s potential as a catalyst for change is bigger than most other technologies. It can: