SharePoint is a great product

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SharePointAt J. Boye we have often been criticized for our honest posts on SharePoint. Some people even seem to believe that we don’t like SharePoint. That is not the case – we actually think that SharePoint is a great product in many ways.

In our groups and at our conferences we have seen many inspirational examples of how SharePoint has created tangible progress and value in a myriad of organisations. We have even come across organisations which use SharePoint as their web CMS and who are still satisfied with their investment.

The reason that our SharePoint blogs have been perceived as negative is probably that we share both sides of the story. We have seen numerous successful SharePoint projects in our community, but we have also witnessed delayed projects, expensive consultants, complex implementation tasks and frustration over lacking standards and governance issues. The point is that with vast possibilities and functionality comes complexity. SharePoint can do many things, but it is a challenge to get it implemented.

Having said that, SharePoint can be a great platform. SharePoint is not an out-of-the-box product, which you can pick up and use (just because IT says you already have the licenses). It should be handled with care and you really should talk to fellow practitioners and experienced consultants, in particular if you are embarking on a SharePoint 2010 project.

Let me know what you think! Is SharePoint a great product?

Peter Sejersen

7 thoughts on “SharePoint is a great product”

  1. The dichotomy of SharePoint is that it is both an easy, usable “out of the box” product AND a .net development platform.

    You can use it “as it comes” as long as your requirements are simple and you keep things realistic. Or you can throw lots of money and developers at it and customize it to the N’th degree.

    I think the majority of problems arise when people have fallen for the marketing hype, and think its going to let “business users” do all these amazing things without any IT / Developer input (i.e. without spending any more money on it).

    But that’s just my opinion :-) Wish I could learn from others in Copenhagen, but there is no way my employeer is flying me across from Toronto…..

  2. Agree with Jed’s comments, the marketing hype can lead people down the wrong track.

    SharePoint is pretty great at some things and pretty limited in other areas. After a half-dozen roll-outs, I would not use it for public-facing websites. There are much better CMS systems out there that offer better features built for marketing/sales purposes, which is quite often the focus of an external-facing website.

    Because it is built on .NET and offers a rich developer environment, it also means that things can get incredibly complex. Our IT department went from a web release each month to a quarterly release cycle because of the testing overhead that was increased when moving to SharePoint. Perhaps it was the way things were set up, I’m not too sure… but definitely saw more problems than benefits.

    Saying all that, I love SharePoint as an intranet. Have to make sure that end-users are trained properly though.

  3. Peter, your post seems typical of many companies who feel they must say nice things about Sharepoint ….. to give the perception they are Sharepoint-friendly, because everyone likes ‘friendly’. Every CMS vendor sucks up to Sharepoint publicly, but privately we all know it is a sinister ploy by Microsoft to build a developer community. There are thousands of businesses today writing Sharepoint code, billions of lines of code being written around the world to make Sharepoint work – and they call it off-the-shelf? Duh!.

    True off-the-shelf products allow businesses to get the same result without investing dollars and time. Sharepoint is a slippery-slide, like drugs to a drug-addict, easy to get on because its free in the beginning, and then once they start paying for the hardstuff they can’t get off.

    Please get this message out there, its up to you guys to point out the folly of businesses become software development companies. earlier posts were honest, please continue to tell the truth as you see it.

  4. @Jed, could you expand?
    That is, please tell us what you feel Sharepoint can do OOTB, perhaps with a few days config and a corporate ‘skin’. My understanding, such as it is, it that it can work easily as an internal shared document and discussion platform (if linked to AD) – i.e. going many steps further than a ‘shared drive’ without moving in to full DMS / ECM territory. Is that a false impression?

  5. Mike

    It can do many things “OOB” – basic Document Management, Document Centric collaboration, Intranet or even external site WCM (what MS calls the “Publishing” features), it has blogs and wikis and discussion forums. SP2010 even has some ‘social’ computing features.

    My experience over the past couple of years working with MOSS2007 in organizations where money issues have led to a “out of the box only, no development, no third party add on’s” policy has been that eventually the users want to do some thing that is not provided by OOB functionality. How long you take to hit that wall depends on the features being used and the sophistication of the user requirement.

    So, to Jon’s point above, there are hundreds or thousands of companies that hitched their wagon to the SharePoint train and joined Microsoft’s “vendor echo system” – contractors, developers and companies building whole suites of add on products. Now we are into the SharePoint as a development platform area.

    This is what I meant in my original comment about a dichotomy – SP as a dev platform is fine if that is what you need to meet your stated business and technical requirements, and you go into open with eyes wide open as to the potential costs. At the other end of the scale, if you use OOB functionality only, SP may still meet your requirements BUT beware of the draw to eventually spend more time and money on extending it.

    There was much discussion at this years AIIM Info360 conference in D.C. a couple of weeks ago about this subject. It almost accepted that SP has become a ‘de facto’ standard – but that does not make it perfect. Alan Pelz-Sharpe of the Real Story Group warned about the hidden costs involved when you transition from that simple OOB the box implementation, to the development platform approach. Alan noted that in his experience of dealing with RSG clients that SharePoint might be into the infamous “trough of disillusionment”.

    I expect there will be considerable discussion on this at the JBoye conference in Philadelphia in May !

    Final comment – SharePoint = double edged sword – so wield it carefully

  6. It seems there is a common theme forming here, which is SP is good right up until you have to spend time and money developing it out…..anyone here been exposed to Longitude by BA Insight? It won’t help with publicly facing/ecomm sites (nor do I think SP should ever be used in that fashion) but if you’re looking to extend SP search to other data repositories or to make the search functionality more “web-like” this is a great solution that is very cost effective and requires no coding.

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