Thursday 25 September 2008

Aligning business needs to SharePoint capabilities

Michael Sampson has been reporting from KMWorld 2008 this week, however Eric Mack recorded Michael’s conclusions from his own presentation about Microsoft SharePoint as a collaboration tool:

1. SharePoint is not a mature collaboration platform
2. Mitigations (technology and human factors) will be required to achieve the full promise of SharePoint
3. Be careful what you use it for, and how you use it.
4. Collaboration is only one of the six pieces of SharePoint 2007.
5. Your driving reason for SharePoint may be one of the other five.

I’ve been following Michael’s blog for while and have also read his 7 pillars analysis, so I’m quite confident about the validity of his assessment. However, reading Eric Mack’s post today a thought occurred to me that one point to bear in mind about these conclusions is that Michael’s 7 pillars framework assumes that the level of the organisation’s collaborative maturity is the same. What this means is that SharePoint will work for some organisations BUT only in short term if their collaborative maturity is very low (i.e. basic document sharing).

However, when that collaborative maturity improves you will run into problems – particularly if your IT department has mandated a “vanilla” out of the box deplolyment (which is their attempt to keep SharePoint manageable over the long term – that’s the “it can’t break if we don’t change anything, ever” method).

Of course the issue of mismatching current and future business requirements to technology capabilities applies as much to SharePoint as it does to any other kind of collaboration or portal technology. Its also likely that any information management or collaboration technology will require some kind of mitigation to make it truly fit for purpose in practice (in part that’s about implementation, not installation).

So, are you implementing SharePoint with your eyes open? Do you understand the collaborative maturity of your organisation and how it maps to SharePoint’s capabilities? Or maybe you are looking at other collaborative or social computing technologies with the hope that if its not SharePoint, then you won’t need to worry about planning for a good fit with business needs?

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