Divide and Wait to be Conquered

By Daniel Antion posted 03-05-2013 12:57


Suppose that you take your light grey Jeep Wrangler in for service. Upon arrival, the service manager makes you fill out a form indicating why you brought the car in, the license number on the car, your name, and a phone number where you can be reached. You give the service manager the form and your key and then you board the courtesy van and go to work. At the end of the day, you return to pick up the car, but the service manager has gone home. The person at the counter can’t tell you if all or any of the work was completed, and doesn’t know how much to charge you. In addition, this person hands you your key, AND your license plate and points you to a parking lot with at least 10 light grey Jeep Wranglers in it and says “have a nice day!” How would you feel? Is this a car repair gone horribly wrong? No, this might be an analogy to the agonizing end of your SharePoint-based ECM project.

I don’t mean to sound the alarm bell and call in the content guards, but after reading this great blog post by Sharon Richardson, I sent a link to it to the members of my team under the  caution sign: “This doesn’t look good to me” and nobody on my team stepped up to tell me to “chill”. I posted a comment in which I asked the author to “Please tell me that I am overreacting and / or that I misunderstood what you wrote…” – she responded a few minutes later in Twitter:

    “Replied to your comment re SharePoint and SkyDrivePro – Nope, you're not

In case you haven’t already left this site to read that post, the panic inducing part is the part that describes how people can drag content out of a managed library on SharePoint and drop it into their SkyDrive Pro account. That operation will be a Move, and although you might be able to get them (presumably you can’t) to move it back, in the initial passage from SharePoint to SkyDrive, the document will be stripped of its license plate, I mean its metadata. If you’re reading this saying “no, that can’t be true” you’re playing the role I played last week. Microsoft would have to have eliminated the goal of being a serious player in the ECM market to have done such a thing. Well, it seems that they would rather be a serious player in the mobile, social, web-based collaboration market instead.  A recent ZDNet article seems to agree:

    “Much of SharePoint's redesign is intended to refocus sites as enterprise social
     collaboration tools

Maybe it was going to take too long to figure out how to compete in the social/mobile market with the same product that they suggested could be used for Content Management. Maybe they never cared about Content Management. Maybe there are ways in which those overly anal content managers can lock down SharePoint, eliminate private drives, and prevent content from moving to SkyDrives and this really “…ain’t no big thing baby!” In fact, the latter statement seems to be the case; it seems that you will be able to prevent managed content from flowing off premises, but I find that a bit disconcerting.

I selected SharePoint because it gave our company the ability to use (and get used to using) one platform for collaboration and content management. God knows, SharePoint was never a best-of-breed contender in either of those markets; its value stems (stemmed) from the fact that those goals were combined. I could deliver solutions that would help the average person do his or her job and along the way, they could help me do mine. Now it appears that I will have to wall off ECM from collaboration. If that’s true, it’s more than a minor inconvenience.

Our biggest SharePoint success story is one in which, as multiple users collaborate on a final document, they are adding the metadata incrementally. As they do that, a management dashboard keeps track of progress across an entire department. It seems as though we are heading back to a time where I will tell people to “build your document wherever you like, but store the final product here.” Of course when they store that document, they will have to set all the metadata. This will render the dashboard useless. This will make the process less tolerable, and it will make it harder to search for results that include works in progress. Worst of all, it will expose SharePoint to individual functional comparisons which I’m not sure it can win. For storage only, consider Box vs. SkyDrive. For content management only, consider SharePoint vs. Nuxeo. It’s like removing the parenthesis from the following equation (1+2) * (1+3) – the result is only half as good.

#office365 #sharepoint #ECM #Collaboration #SkyDrive #metadata #SharePoint