Scenes From A SharePoint Installation Process

By Nick Inglis posted 09-27-2011 11:47

  

 

RFP TemplateMicrosoft has done some brilliant marketing around SharePoint, they’ve managed to manipulate the very software approval process at many large organizations. To say “Bravo!” in their honor may be an understatement.

Generally, when enterprises are seeking software they evaluate the need, develop a business case and send out an RFP. When was the last time Microsoft responded to an RFP for SharePoint? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that they don’t respond to very many in relation to the number of instances of SharePoint that are in the enterprise.

So what’s happening here? There are a couple of factors at play:

  1. Microsoft is driving SharePoint adoption through its dominance of the desktop with Office.
  2. Since SharePoint is sitting with licenses in hand at many organizations, IT is installing it willy-nilly.
  3. Since SharePoint is sitting with licenses in hand at many organizations, instead of finding a product to meet the business need, the business need is being modeled after the product.
  4. Traditional reasons like extensibility, flexibility and workforce expertise.

Microsoft is driving SharePoint adoption through its dominance of the desktop with Office.

When was the last time you used Corel WordPerfect or OpenOffice at work? The percentage is really small. Office dominates the Enterprise as does Windows. SharePoint licenses are generally bundled in an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft for things such as Office and Windows. That means, many companies have SharePoint “just lying around”.

Since SharePoint is sitting with licenses in hand at many organizations, IT is installing it willy-nilly.

This is a serious problem with many organizations putting the cart well before the horse. Here’s the typical scenario of the rogue SharePoint installation:

IT receives calls from “Team A” begging for some type of collaborative system to move a project along. The frustrated IT person says, well we don’t have anything like that right now. “Team A” pushes back and says that they could use Facebook or DokuWiki or some open source mumbo jumbo to get the job done. IT person says, “Wait, well we do have these SharePoint licenses just lying around”.

SharePoint just made its entrance. No business case, no RFP.

Since SharePoint is sitting with licenses in hand at many organizations, instead of finding a product to meet the business need, the business need is being modeled after the product.

The opposite is that the CXOs get involved and drive SharePoint from a cost savings approach. Here’s that typical scenario:

“Business Leader A” states a business need: things like ECM, RM, Collaboration, Project Management, etc.

“Business Leader B” recalls a conversation with Microsoft marketing in which the company was given a license to SharePoint and told that SharePoint could solve that business need. Words are thrown around like “budget”, “solution”, and “easy”…

“Business Leader A” agrees to SharePoint and the directive goes to IT.

Instead of going through the normal process, SharePoint just became the solution without ever truly defining the business problem.

Traditional reasons like extensibility, flexibility and workforce expertise.

This last section isn’t actually utilized all that often, but SharePoint could do pretty well if it needed to. What I’ve found is that most companies are making mistakes in running with SharePoint before planning for SharePoint. That doesn’t mean that SharePoint can’t hold its own. SharePoint is extensible like no other platform, it is the Swiss Army Knife of software. SharePoint is flexible and can solve many business problems. Also, there is a large and relatively well trained workforce that exists to support SharePoint.

Conclusion

If you’ve put your cart before the horse, it doesn’t mean that you’ve made a bad decision, SharePoint is an amazingly wonderful and beautiful beast of a product. It likely does mean that you’ll need to go back and do some leg work on things like governance. (Nag point: Interestingly, AIIM has a training for that. http://www.aiim.org/Training/SharePoint-Course)



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