If you cut your leg off with a chainsaw don’t blame SharePoint

By Dave Martin posted 03-18-2013 21:40


Although the focus of this post is to help understand some of the changes being made with SharePoint 2013 and how to deal with them, it is driven by a number of interesting perspectives I’ve seen online recently about SharePoint and its big push to get back to its roots and be the experience.   More specifically (and interestingly) I will direct attention to SkyDrive Pro, and the opinion that it is a social tool destined to bring back the chaos of SharePoints past.

While reading a series of recently written blog posts focused on SkyDrive Pro (as a social beast) I came across two concepts that stuck out to me around a new enterprise level clash of the titans (social vs. ECM) and they were: don’t try and build a solution that does both social and ECM; and, (to paraphrase) certainly don’t use a solution that does both, or risk dooming yourself to non-compliance. 

I get it, don’t bridle the social beast with the reigns of content management. Regardless, in terms of the two concepts above; I sort of agree with the first thing and definitely do not agree with the latter.  I wouldn’t bother building it, because it already exists – and we call it SharePoint – and I, like many thousand others, am already using it.

Uh oh.

After some interesting discussions with a colleague we decided on the following analogy.  It is brutally simple so read at your own risk.

I can use a chainsaw to chop down trees, or, chop off my leg.

As is usual with me the analogy correlates directly to having a plan. In an enterprise environment doing something with technology because you can, without any thought or foresight usually leads to disaster (dismemberment).  But remember this:  you are in control of your environment.  You are in charge of what gets built, deployed and used.  And more so, you are in charge of how it gets built, deployed and used.

A little bit on SkyDrive Pro: it is a destination in which to keep your work documents and files and can be situated in the Cloud, or on-premise.  Content in SkyDrive Pro can be easily shared and can be accessed and synced across devices.  Think of it as a business user’s personal information hub within their corporate environment from which they can manage, share and access content. Microsoft is promoting this capability as part of their social stack and as Cloud-driven.  Much of what I have just written is paraphrased from Microsoft’s FAQ on SkyDrive Pro.  Taken from this same Microsoft site is the following statement, one that I thought I would post word-for-word:

Your files [in SkyDrive Pro] are safely kept in the cloud with SharePoint Online or on your company’s SharePoint Server 2013 servers, depending on what your company has set up.

It’s the last part of this sentence that I wanted to call out: “depending on what your company has set up.”  Please understand that this comment is deeper than whether or not you store content online or on-premises, it is that your company sets up SharePoint.

Now I know what a chainsaw is for, and have a literal understanding of how to use one (turn it on, aim at wood). If I plan to head off into the forest and chop down trees with a chainsaw and my intention is to keep both of my legs attached to my body maybe I should take some steps to assure this.  I could tell someone what I am doing, so at the very least they can find the dismembered corpse.  I could bring someone along to help with the inevitable first aid requirements.  I could wear Kevlar leg guards (yes they exist).  I could even have an ambulance waiting in the wings just in case. Or, as crazy as it sounds, maybe I could go somewhere and really learn what chainsaws are all about and how to use them safely.

So if SharePoint is my chainsaw…

SharePoint connects people and content, always has, and with its new social/collaborative capabilities the share part of SharePoint transcends to a whole new level of meaning. You can literally click a single button now and instantly share content with anyone you want.  You can move content to the Cloud and leverage that environment to collaborate on content with anyone you want.  You can post content and allow anyone you want to comment on it, or link to it and share it with anyone they want.  And if you have chosen to enable all of these options in SharePoint without any thought to governance then you have essentially put yourself in a forest, alone, without protective gear and disabled 9-1-1 on your phone.

But we’re smarter than that.  We overcame the whole “SharePoint is the next Lotus Notes” thing and that SharePoint is not an ECM platform, and more so, that SharePoint cannot manage records.  And we did it all by learning about what SharePoint does, how it does it, and then defined a plan that suited our organization’s unique requirements and leveraged SharePoint as a platform to build around that plan and those requirements.

My point is: yes, Microsoft has included a ton of new social/collaborative capabilities in addition to what was in SharePoint 2010 with SharePoint 2013, and yes these have the potential to cause huge issues in terms of information management and governance.    But as always, with a solid understanding and plan surrounding what SharePoint capabilities you have at your disposal (now), want to enable within your environment, and how they might affect your information management and governance strategy, you’ll probably be okay.

I’ll be the first to say, chainsaws can be scary, but don’t let a gruesome headline make you think chainsaws are dangerous.  As with technology, chances are the severed leg was due to incomplete understanding and poor planning.

#cloud #ECM #governance #InformationGovernance #SkyDrivePro #social #SharePoint #sharepoint #Records-Management #ElectronicRecordsManagement