Let’s face it, no matter how you slice it, SharePoint has been a big success: for Microsoft (78 percent of enterprises currently running SharePoint according to AIIM), for end users (finally some technology they could relate to), and for the enterprise content management (ECM) community (at last, people were somewhat excited about what we do for a living). 

But let’s also face it, organizations have had some significant challenges realizing the full value of SharePoint -- and in many cases have actually made things worse in terms of document management by using it.



We’ve all heard the horror stories of organizations that have X number of employees and 5X number of SharePoint sites, where shared drive folder structures were moved over whole cloth to SharePoint (and users are currently keeping duplicate content in both places), business users administer SharePoint sites (including security and information architecture), and there is little training (“Click this link to view a Microsoft training PowerPoint”) and even less governance (“Please don’t put records in SharePoint and make sure to delete non-records after you no longer need them. Thank you.”).

But what did we expect? SharePoint is an enterprise platform like ERP or ECM, not an Office product, yet the majority of organizations insist on treating it like Word or Excel, with predictable results.

What Would SAP Do?

I’ve been helping organizations be successful with SharePoint for some time now, and I’ve tried countless techniques to get them to understand that you can’t treat SharePoint like an Office product or a cloud file sharing tool (e.g., Box, Dropbox). But lately, I’ve been preaching the gospel of what would SAP do?

Anytime you find yourself considering a course of action for SharePoint, stop and ask yourselves, “WWSD?” For example:

  • We didn’t gather user requirements or do system design because we’re taking an if you build it, they will come approach, i.e., stand up a vanilla SharePoint template and it will “go viral” once people start using it.
  • There’s so much free web training out there on SharePoint -- and you know that people don’t have time to sit in a class for a day -- that we’ll just publish helpful links on our project site so people can train at their own pace.
  • We need to make sure user adoption is high, so we’re going to let users “get used” to SharePoint by working the way they do now on shared drives -- we’ll introduce things like versioning, workflow, check in/check out, and metadata later.
  • We want folks to use SharePoint instead of shared drives, but we haven’t made shared drives read only -- SharePoint’s so much better that they will just stop using shared drives on their own.

The Final Word

Can you imagine standing up SAP with no user requirements or training, or allowing older financial processes and systems to remain in existence side-by-side with SAP? Of course not -- because we all know that SAP is an enterprise platform that requires huge amounts of resources (both time and money) to get right.

SharePoint is no different; although unlike SAP, you can get it up and running with little to no planning or forethought, so organizations get lulled into thinking that they can be successful this way. As the experience of many organizations shows, however, you can’t be. And so make sure you not only take the time to ask yourself “WWSD?” but also take the time to do it.

Image courtesy of Everett Collection (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Listen to Joe. Really. To read more, SharePoint Implementation the Right Way