Last week we ran the SharePoint Symposium in Washington DC and kicked off the two-day event with a question to the audience. What single word best describes "SharePoint" to you? The preponderance of negative answers thrown out surprised us:
- Bottomless Pit
This is typically a pretty pro-SharePoint audience, and in terms of research for our buyer-focused subscription ECM and SharePoint research services it has been a reliable source of peer information over the years.
But I have no doubt at all if we had asked the same question in previous years, we would have seen a more positive list of answers. Further discussion revealed that SharePoint buyers and users in the room had been caught between a bottom up / top down approach to deployment. Bottom up in that IT had thrown the problem of SharePoint over the wall and left users to self provision, or business users had simple gone off and acquired SharePoint on their own. Top down in that IT had provided very elementary and unusable SharePoint environments with insufficient education and training. What was missing in both approaches was:
- Business Analysis
- Process Analysis
- Change Management
- Information Management
Neither the business groups that had SharePoint unleashed on them (or unleashed it themselves), nor the IT department that technically owned SharePoint offers those kind of skills anymore. Yet both assume somehow that the other will figure it all out. It's not so much that SharePoint is at fault; rather that growing SharePoint installations reveal the dearth of supporting resource, and their criticality.
We can call this a lack of skills, but that's not the real issue: it's a lack of enterprise commitment to the "soft" resources required for success here. Remember that SharePoint is like any other enterprise platform: you can't install and forget. Adherents of SharePoint in the cloud would do well to note this too...