A few days ago I read the 2015 AIIM report Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint – important strategy choices. The 36-page report does its best to make some connections, conclusions and recommendations on the implementation of the core product.
In my opinion, the report missed the mark by not providing any strategic recommendations based on their research. Reports like this are beneficial for those looking to get a state of the SharePoint union, to note the existing patterns and best practices currently in place. In this instance, these can also be interpreted as reasons or excuses that summarize the details behind implementations that have gone awry. In the 65 sessions I presented in 2014, I found very few attendees who were only interested in hearing statistics; my audiences want solutions to their problems, and it is up to us as a community to work together and provide them.
Of primary importance on AIIM’s list of Key Findings is the first item, the fact that many SharePoint implementations lack adoption and forward strategy, with 63% of respondents indicating they consider themselves as having sub-optimum installations. While that is a powerful statistic to note, part of the issue in the SharePoint community is that too many people highlight their issues and not enough make strategic recommendations about how to overcome known problems.
For example, if a customer shared this statistic with me, noting that they too felt they had a sub-optimum implementation, I would ask a number of questions to identify the gaps and recommend potential solutions. My questions would focus on identifying the initial scope, ownership levels, requirements analysis, adoption measures and governance structure to name just a few. In establishing these points, I would work to understand the expectations that the customer had and figure out where they were missed.
In my experience, most SharePoint “problems” stem from a lack of understanding that could have been overcome. This misunderstanding can come from a number of different sources; whether a functionality gap, poor requirements gathering, a technical miss, or something deeper such as an adoption or governance issue, each must be fully defined and understood prior to simply stating that SharePoint has “problems”. Working with your project owners and team will help to not only understand the issues and gaps, but also assist in creating a path to success.
In addition to the statistics above, the figures on having a sub-optimum installation can further be represented by 26% indicating a stalled implementation and 37% struggling to meet expectations. Interestingly, the second point in the Key Findings states that “A failure of senior management to endorse and enforce SharePoint was the biggest reason for the lack of success…” This point hits a nerve for me because help is out there. In the past year, I have worked with many MVPs and experts in the SharePoint community to create a journey that truly makes sense for an organization. The SharePoint Journey is a high-level framework that organizations can use to guide their implementation and overall project lifecycle for SharePoint, regardless of version or task at hand (upgrade, hybrid scenario or new installation).
The first two steps of the Journey map directly to the Key Findings highlighted by the AIIM report; how to obtain executive buy-in and suggested steps to achieve enterprise-wide portal adoption. While the third finding in the AIIM report speaks to the increase in active users, the fourth finding, creating an information governance policy and then matching it to SharePoint, is an underlying message in all three of the first pillars in the Journey. The third pillar, the Information Hub, transforms SharePoint into the place where work is completed in a categorized and consistent way. This is where taxonomies and metadata are applied to information, making them easier to find and organized in a consistent manner. Organizations hoping to achieve a long-term, governed and adopted SharePoint environment would be wise to start aligning themselves to these pillars early in their implementation.
The SharePoint Journey © Eric Riz, 2015.
Percentages represent suggested time allocated to each pillar.
The final finding in the AIIM report highlights that 42% of users surveyed are still using SharePoint 2010, with 22% live on 2013. This is nearly identical to my personal findings that 45% of users still are still on SharePoint 2010. With my poll reaching a user base ten-times larger than AIIM, it is interesting to note that the figures continue to scale at the same rate. In each session I present, I always ask the audience to raise their hands and identify which version of SharePoint they currently use within their organizations. Having spoken to a cumulative audience of approximately 4000 people in the past year, these numbers certainly aren’t scientific, but they are a representation of usage across North America and Europe.