About two out of three organizations complain their SharePoint projects have stalled (26 percent) or failed to live up to their expectations (37 percent).

And it gets worse, according to new AIIM research.

A majority of respondents blame those SharePoint failures on lack of support from senior management.

Looking for a Fix

Add in things like too little training, planning, investment and SharePoint expertise and it's clear to see why these projects have failure stamped all over them. 

But surprisingly, most enterprises that responded to the survey (75 percent) are sticking with SharePoint. They claim they're committed to making it work, with a substantial number looking at the Office 365 Online version to complement or replace their on-premises version.

The findings are contained in the latest version of AIIM’s Industry Watch report, Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint – Important Strategy Choices 2015. They are based on an online survey of 422 AIIM members between December and January.

At first glance, the report seems to be anything but good news Microsoft as it gears up to release SharePoint 2016 later this year. But that fact that so many are committed to making SharePoint work adds another perspective. In addition, the fact that many are looking at the SharePoint Online version is also a positive sign for Microsoft, given how hard it is pushing that option.

Odds are when SharePoint executives take to the stage at Microsoft’s Ignite conference this May that they will hammer home the necessity of proper deployment. SharePoint only works if it has been planned into an enterprise's wider information management infrastructure, something only members of the C-Suite can make happen.

Lack of Integration

It's worth noting that only 14 percent of respondents have SharePoint connected to their other enterprise content or document management systems, which seriously curtails its ability to carry out enterprise search or act as an access portal.

Furthermore, 48 percent still have work to do to align their SharePoint deployments with Information Governance (IG) policies.  One in five have no IG policies in place around SharePoint at all.

This could help explain why adoption rates are so low and why so many organizations feel that their deployments have stalled.

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Has Anyone Mastered This?

The 37-page report is a cornucopia of information about SharePoint, which has been on the market for nearly 14 years. Originally designed as in intranet platform and a tool for cross-department collaboration, it now occupies a central position in the wider organizational IT infrastructure in many enterprise environments.

However, for all its functionality, adoption has been an issue, with many users still depending on file shares to transfer documents or other data. Report author Doug Miles, director of Market Intelligence at AIIM, blamed user's complaints, including restricted functionality, on poor training and governance.

Despite this, fewer than 8 percent are considering a replacing SharePoint and only one percent have actually done so.

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Some organizations that are still using the very first 2003 version of SharePoint, even if it’s only to manage legacy content — another reflection of the poor management of enterprise content. However, the vast majority are using the 2010 and 2013 versions, with a growing presence of SharePoint Online in use through Office 365.

Managing SharePoint

There are a number of  issues that emerged from the study.


Only 11 percent say their SharePoint project has been a success. A failure by senior management to engage with it was cited as being the biggest reason for failure, followed by a lack of training and a lack of planning around the deployments. But a quarter of enterprises are committed to building their enterprise content management (ECM), records management and collaboration around SharePoint, with 22 percent indicating that it will remain their ECM of choice in the foreseeable future. Only eight percent are currently looking for an alternative.

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Learning Opportunities


About 43 percent are happy with Microsoft’s roadmap around SharePoint, although 49 percent are concerned about the lack of focus on the on-premises version.

Julia White, General Manager of Office Product Management of SharePoint, said recently however that that Microsoft will be focusing on SharePoint as a hybrid platform. How does that match with enterprise plans?

About 34 percent plan to move to the online version for all (7 percent), most (10 percent) or some (15 percent) of their content. 

About 15 percent plan to use private cloud (11 percent as hybrid), 14 percent will stay on-premises and 36 percent are undecided. 

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Only 15 percent of organization are using standard out-of-the-box SharePoint with a further 39 percent applying some level of customization. A third are using in-house customizations with 36 percent using third-party add-ons, followed by metadata and taxonomy management and collaboration tools.

This suggests that many enterprises are not happy with the functionality provided by Microsoft for metadata and search, which explains why enterprises are also looking for enhanced collaboration tools and Outlook integration.

Only 7 percent currently have automated or assisted classification, but a further 28 percent plan to implement it in the next 12 to 18 months. Along with data clean-up tools, and digital signatures, this is by far the biggest rate of increase across add-on products.


The survey showed only 14 percent have connected SharePoint to other enterprise content management (ECM) or document management systems. Less surprising is the fact that a relatively low number of sales related systems have been integrated, with 13 percent connected to customer relationship management systems (CRM) and service desk applications and 12 percent with project management systems.

Information Governance

Despite the criticism of records management in SharePoint across the earlier versions, 23 percent said SharePoint was adequate for their records management needs, with 15 percent using specialist customization and 16 percent using 3rd part add-ons.

In cases where SharePoint is not being used for record management, 17 percent have a dedicated records management system but only 12 percent are connected to SharePoint.

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The key finding — that information strategies and C-Suite executive are responsible for SharePoint’s failings — should add to an increasingly vocal debate about the role of SharePoint in the enterprise.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by katieb50.