Why There Should be No SharePoint in Content Management

By Steve Weissman posted 12-05-2013 10:47


A funny thing happened recently when I was asked to help initiate a group of reluctant users into the wonderful world of SharePoint. I spent the better part of three hours presenting, discussing, and facilitating, and the only time we talked about SharePoint was right at the very beginning, when I told them that we weren't going to talk about SharePoint.

You can imagine how perplexed they all then became.

My point was that the issues that were at the root of their trepidation had nothing at all to do with SharePoint, and I think I even said out loud that SharePoint was irrelevant to that day's conversation. Now that I then had captured their attention, I went on to explain that what they really need to understand was why managing content is important – not even so much to their company but for them – and worry later about learning how to use SharePoint as the tool their ITers had selected for the purpose.

Taking the technology immediately off the table was enormously important in terms of allowing a skeptical and suspicious audience to relax their minds and begin thinking about how it could be used to better their work lives. As I'm sure you have noticed, people love to talk about themselves, and giving them a forum to do so without having to worry about getting the tech-speak right was an important step in a program of change that had become somewhat protracted.

Will these users still need to understand key SharePoint concepts like lists and libraries? I’d say yes, but only to the point of functional knowledge – which is to say, they shouldn't be expected to become experts, just familiar enough with how SharePoint "thinks" so they have a sense of what happens when they interact with it. This is why I disagree with the notion that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” for when it is dispensed in targeted and digestible form, and presented in truly personal terms, such knowledge can be enormously useful.

This is why my SharePoint session didn't talk about SharePoint, and why most of my work, in fact, centers on the business rather than the tools. I’ve found it to be a much shorter route to easing adoption and deriving maximum total value. How about you?

#sharepoint #ContentManagement #SharePoint


12-17-2013 12:07

Thanks for the article. I keep telling anyone who will listen that the IM program is tech neutral. it doesn't matter which technology you use (or are forced to use), the principles behind supporting the business are the same. IM and IT are corporate support functions and exist because there is a business. Following a user-centric approach is a must to get buy-in and support.

12-17-2013 09:34

I wholeheartedly agree. However, in my experiance there is something about SharePoint that draws even casual content consumers into the weeds of the tools rather than addressing their core business needs. I'll try your "irrelevancy" approach next time this might occur and see if my results are as good as yours.

12-17-2013 03:46

I've been in too many meetings, presentations and workshops where business IT users have been corrected on their use of terminology while I sit there cringing.

12-12-2013 10:28

I agree completely with your assessment. You need to understand your business process before you define the technical implementation. Thanks for the discussion.

12-10-2013 03:07

Very well said! Information Management is all about the people and the process, the tool comes a poor third really... To many of our friendly technology vendors are focused on implementing a nice flashy tool that only ends up managing a poor information set because no focus has been given to the business needs..

12-09-2013 07:25

Good article, Steve. However, speaking on the SharePoint topic, here is some info about "why do people hate SharePoint": https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com/sites/eusp/Pages/Why-Do-People-Hate-SharePoint.aspx

12-05-2013 11:26

Steve, extremely well put. Your story is a shining example of how to successfully engage a user audience. Why so many technology vendors continue to miss this rather obvious point is beyond me? Maybe they are more comfortable with talking feeds and speeds or bells and whistle features? Focus on the customer and the business issues, with sincere interest, and then this is truly a win-win situation.