18 Oct The Cure for the SharePoint Blues
Microsoft SharePoint is an enterprise-grade collaboration platform that integrates with Microsoft Office. Launched in 2001, SharePoint is primarily marketed as a document/content management and storage system, similar to software provided by the likes of FilecenterDMS.com and others. With some development, SharePoint can be configured to perform a variety of different tasks within an organization. Many large organizations attempt to use SharePoint as an automation tool to make greater use of the system. SharePoint is a critically important application to these large enterprise customers for its primary content and document management purpose but It is a poor solution for automation. SharePoint frequently results in high development costs and lengthy timelines for companies. Most importantly, SharePoint has extremely low adoption rates when used as an automation tool – see sharepoint migration tool.
Domination of Microsoft Products in the Enterprise. We all know Microsoft rules the large enterprise market but most people don’t realize how much the modern world as we know it depends on Microsoft product. Nearly all large organizations & governments around the globe critically rely on Microsoft for
- Email (Outlook/ Office 365)
- Databases (SQL Server),
- ERP (Dynamics)
- Document & Content Management (SharePoint)
- Business Application Suites (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Cloud services (Azure)
- Desktop and server OS (Windows and Windows Server),
- Communication (Skype)
- Business social media (LinkedIn)
- Data visualization (Power BI),
- Internal collaboration & chat (Teams).
Microsoft’s dominance of the Enterprise is epic and it is hard to imagine where the world would be without Bill Gates & Paul Allen.
SharePoint Engineering and Development. SharePoint, for better or worse, is an intricate and powerful tool. It requires a high level of developer expertise to be utilized for most purposes. Almost all large organizations employ at least one dedicated SharePoint Developer. The primary role of these employees is scoping, development, testing, documenting, and deployment related to creating additional functionality within SharePoint.
At FORMVERSE, we speak with a lot of large customers who employ dozens of SharePoint Developers. In a perfect world, every employee would have the technical expertise to develop an application in SharePoint. We all know that this is very far from reality. Most staff don’t come close to possessing the skills required to create meaningful workflow functions within SharePoint.
SharePoint Adoption Rates within the Enterprise. Lack of development skills and resources is a small problem at companies compared to the dismal user adoption. Due to the complexity of SharePoint, even successful rollouts have traditionally experienced low user adoption rates. Imagine spending the time and money to deploy a solution just to have limited or no use. Instead, users revert back to emailing back and forth to accomplish tasks. This makes all the unstructured data contained within the email useless.
Forrester Research weighs in on SharePoint in the Enterprise. A research report from Forrester Research has provided an overview of the situation:
“While ‘if you build it, they will come’ might work in the movies, the approach has yielded neither wide adoption of SharePoint nor satisfaction with the product. Too often, IT provides the latest and greatest SharePoint release only to watch many users turn their backs on the solution”
“Dissatisfaction is centered on several areas, including adoption challenges, a dislike for the SharePoint user experience, a preference for other tools like email and skepticism over its business value.” http://blogs.forrester.com/john_r_rymer/13-02-20-sharepoint_enters_its_awkward_teenage_years
At this point, if your IT staff has actually managed to develop and deploy a solution to users within a year or two, only to be met with resistance. Typically, one of two can happen:
- The solution fails because user adoption is low (which is a symptom of using the wrong automation platform), or
- The solution goes back to development for engineering which results in additional cost and significant delays.
Internal SharePoint Development Performed by IT Staff. So, after countless hours of development, you are back at square one. This cycle of dedicated IT labor and bandwidth can cost enterprises considerable capital and overburden IT departments. So, is internal IT to blame? Of course not. IT very much understands the need and the value of enabling additional functionality within the enterprise applications already used by the customer. The concept is quite valid. Unfortunately, SharePoint is just not the right tool to use. But email is.
- your organization has made a significant investment in SharePoint, as well as all Microsoft products as an organization.
- User adoption is low, development is taking far too long and costing far too much.
- The level of complexity of certain applications just can’t be created in a system that wasn’t designed to be an automation platform.
So, what is the solution? Do you add another piece of software? Another Application? Presenting additional software your employees must learn and use to get their work done? It’s not surprising that according to a survey of enterprises conducted my Microsoft that for each $1 Billion of additional revenue an organization adds, there are 500 new applications used by that organization.
Advantages of Using Email over SharePoint for Automation. A better approach would be to use SharePoint for its intended for (content/document management) and have your staff interact with a system that they use nearly all day – email. This approach provides several significant advantages. By using email as the primary interface to
- initiate new workflow application instances
- act on workflows, and
- access real-time reporting on collected application data.
This enables staff to leverage the one application used by everyone and can almost guarantee a 100% user adoption because everyone is comfortable using email. Data created by automating workflows can also be integrated bi-directionally to and from your other enterprise systems, such as ERP’s, CRM’s, HRIS, content or document management systems, ticketing systems, finance, and financial reporting system, etc., providing a far more efficient and adoptable solution.
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