If I ruled the world (of SharePoint…)

By | April 11, 2013

This last couple of months has been interesting.

The craziness of the SharePoint cosmos is beginning to reach a new plateau if some of the project conversations I have been having recently are anything to go by.

Something has to give, surely.

All technology projects have issues, it’s a fact of life, painful as it may be. IT projects in particular seem to have a magnetic quality, attracting all manner of issues into their Gantt charts.

I would like to think I was a knowledgeable, capable consultant with a reasonable experience of implementing enterprise class solutions into organisations of many shapes and sizes. I’m not cheap to hire and so would take the reasonable leap of assumption that clients bring me in to add value that my credentials and experience suggest I will bring to the table.

So why do I find myself having the same conversations with clients where they want to challenge everything? I’m involved in several projects at any given time and currently (with the exception of one at an insurance firm) every step of the way is being challenged with “do we really need to? do we really need this? can’t we do it this way?” discussions.

Now I’m all for being challenged. We should all, when requested, be prepared to justify decisions regardless of their nature, but clients seem to be increasingly looking for answers that are contrary to those on the table. I’m not talking about wanting to save money or reduce project timelines, that’s the norm. I’m talking about clients increasingly being convinced they know better.

I’m increasingly convinced that the issue with SharePoint projects is the “home brew” factor.

In the main, enterprise class technologies are just too darn complex for organisations to self-deploy. It’s pretty rare to see a self-built SAP implementation, right? Organisations will have skills in-house sure, but even large organisations rarely have the specialist capabilities to design, deploy and manage the complex solutions that are in use. That has always been the domain of the contractor/consultant vendor and partner communities.

There is so much content out there on the intertubes (plus the self-empowerment hype from Microsoft), organisations truly believe that they can home brew SharePoint and get the most out of it. Rarely will this be the case. Heck, a large number of the home brew solutions I see barely tick-over, let alone enabling the organisation to get real benefit from the platform.

So for today, if I ruled the world of SharePoint, I would introduce licenses.

Not software licenses. Licenses. You would need a license to deploy SharePoint.

You need a license to get married, have a dog, own a gun, drive a car or to watch TV; I reckon you should need a license to design, deploy and maintain SharePoint.

A “License to Skill” if you will.

Just Saying.

more to follow…

8 thoughts on “If I ruled the world (of SharePoint…)

  1. Matthew Hughes

    Hey Seb,
    I am with you on this, the amount of times I have heard “oh I saw this feature that this org had and it looked great why dont we have it” or better yet, “my friend told me it was possible, why are you saying it isn’t” and then there’s the old faithful, “this consultancy told us SharePoint would solve world hunger and you are saying it wont” finally and the best one “why are you saying it will take X days when someone else (with no SharePoint knowledge) said it would take half that”.
    I enjoy these conversations and usually its born out of previous bad experiences so it helps if you can reassure them

    Reply
  2. Stuart Pegg

    Haha! This is almost exactly the same reaction most .Net Developers have to Access solutions.

    Often business users will see the destination functionality they want and two routes to it: The quick and easy DIY method, or the expensive and lengthy “correct” way of doing it. It’s the same story with developers and third party software; why would you buy it when you can do it yourself?

    The best way to explain it is “Technical Debt”. Whenever you create a solution, you’ve taken out a loan you’re going to have to repay in time and effort maintaining it: The higher quality the solution, the bigger the deposit, and hence the lower the interest rate is. With next to no deposit, you’re going to end up repaying many times more than the loan amount over time.

    Reply
  3. Alistair Pugin

    I would go as far as saying that its SharePoint as a product that is the issue. Mainly due to how Microsoft positions it. Simple, easy to deploy and use. You doing see organisations go out, grab Livelink or Documentum and just “Install” and away you go. Access to the product is key. Anyone can download and install SharePoint. That’s part of its allure and its failure. Anyone can do it, its like next, next, close, take the configuration wizard and presto, you can haz SharePoint.

    Microsoft should be policing their product better. It would definitely get rid of a fair amount of SharePoint hate-speech.

    Reply
  4. Andrew Walmsley

    Interesting write up Seb. It’s something I’ve recognised also over the years. More so recently I think just because of the popularity of the platform has increased exponentially in this period.

    This and frankly a lot of similar issues stem to a degree from historically Microsoft products being considered ‘cheap’ and ‘easy’ to install. It’s difficult to get away from the ‘It’s Microsoft software that runs on my PC at home’ and or ‘it can’t be that hard to install, can it’ mentality. You don’t get this with Oracle or SAP products, as they don’t really have a consumer element or even desktop exposure in the main. Hence they start and stay in the enterprise in terms of realms of exposure and expertise needed to design and deploy them, whereas SharePoint (and those who work with it), always struggle to get the positioning and hence recognition and support that it needs.

    My 2p worth….
    A

    Reply
  5. Matt Taylor

    I was only griping to someone about the very same earlier this week – why do clients hire me in to tell me how they want me to implement SharePoint and not listen to a word of my experience?!

    And the reason I avoid such clients now; it never leads to a good outcome for the consultant or the client.

    Reply
  6. Keith Bucknall

    Seb,

    A great post, I think also from the client perspective my frustration would be not spending enough time with consultants on various projects to get a deep drive “chalk ‘n’ talk” session to run through details, use cases and justifications for decisions. The perception of consultants has always been come in do X,Y,Z and go rather than building up the value add to go into why’s and wherefore’s of the solutions in hand.

    Reply
  7. Herrod Bauer

    There is so much content out there on the intertubes, organisations truly believe that they can home brew SharePoint and get the most out of it.

    Reply

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