The latest survey from AIIM, Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint, examines the state of SharePoint as it moves into the 14 year mark. AIIM conducted the survey between December 2014 and January 2015, and the survey results clearly document what many of us see in practice: while there are some organizations that have been very successful (11%) and others are close (26%), the majority of organizations (63%) report that they are struggling to declare success for their SharePoint deployments.
The results also report something just as interesting and even more insightful: the organizations that have not been successful know exactly why they have failed. And most of them are committed to working through these issues assuming that they get a little help from Microsoft. The results report went to press shortly after Microsoft made it clear that help is coming – with a commitment to continuing to advance the on-premises version of SharePoint while at the same time making it easier to take advantage of the cloud in hybrid scenarios and making it easier to deliver solutions around common scenarios in the form of several upcoming NextGen Portals and familiar and easy to use file sharing in OneDrive for Business.
So what do these organizations know now that they should have done differently? The reasons all seem to fall into one basic theme: We implemented SharePoint as a technology solution when we really should have treated it as a business solution. The top three reasons reported for why SharePoint projects stalled or failed are all business reasons:
- Senior management didn’t endorse and enforce it
- Inadequate user training
- We didn’t do enough planning and scoping at the outset
The fourth most cited reason – users never really liked it or found it hard to use – can be attributed to several factors:
- The majority of respondents are using earlier versions of SharePoint – only 22% were live with SharePoint 2013 – and have not been able to take advantage of Microsoft’s improvements in user experience.
- Reason number two – inadequate user training. SharePoint can definitely seem overwhelming to new users, but without adequate training, it is going to remain hard to use – for both end users and those with permission to configure the user experience.
- If “designers” with inadequate training are left on their own to configure solutions, it’s not hard to imagine that the solutions they create will not be optimized for users.
Survey respondents seem to agree with me on the training issue, because the number one step that organizations are taking to re-energize their SharePoint deployments – at almost half of the organizations responding to the survey – is providing “internal training for our people on how to use it properly.”
It’s worth looking at the entire report to see how your experiences align with those organizations who responded to the survey – and there are a lot of other insights to be drawn from the results, especially from the reporting of key lessons learned. The top answers here all speak to the importance of planning and support to be successful. In other words, have a business problem to solve and make sure you engage the business to solve that problem. Tossing SharePoint over the fence from IT without having someone in the business to catch it is just going to leave a broken mess.
- Don’t leave it just to IT
- Be sure to understand the implications of metadata and taxonomy
- Set out your information governance policies first, then configure SharePoint to align with and ideally, enforce, those policies
- Create a SharePoint steering group to drive adoption and performance
- Ensure you have a scoping document and build-out plan
- Take enterprise content management (ECM)/records management (RM) training in addition to technical product training
- Take on-board the trade-offs between quick wins and long term headaches
- Use external advice, particularly for your type of business
- Talk to add-on providers; they can greatly simplify things and ad functionality
©AIIM 2015, www.aiim.org