Thursday, 29 January 2009

The reality of SharePoint deployments

Over at Toby has commented on a recent AIIM webinar in a post titled "SharePoint: Truth or fiction"

I am not going to repeat the post here, you can read it yourselves. However Toby notes that the AIIM research suggests the majority of real world SharePoint (MOSS 2007) deployments are at the departmental level for file sharing / collaboration scenarios.

The AIIM research backs up previous CMS Watch comment (and their comprehensive reports) on where SharePoint can find its 'sweet spot'. Most of my previous posts on SharePoint have suggested that its really a portal server / portal development platform with additional features added for collaboration and content management (much like you can buy similar add on's for IBM WebSphere, Oracle Webcentre (ex-BEA Aqualogic) or even the LifeRay OSS portal). I have also suggested that Microsoft are wrong to market SharePoint as an 'Enterprise Content Managment" platform.

However AIIM (or was it Gartner?) did coin the term 'Basic Content Services' to describe SharePoints Microsoft Office centric lightweight document management and library services features, and it appears that this is where many department level deployments are focused - on replacing disorganised and unmanaged 'file share hell' with hopefully better managed and better organised SharePoint document libraries - maybe they are even using metadata ! (sorry lets stick to MS terminology - 'site columns'........)

No doubt AIIM is right that an easy and simple introduction to enterprise information management and ECM via SharePoint based document management is better than nothing, and is a good start to helping organisations build up their information management environment. But Toby points out that the evidence seems to suggest the more 'sophisticated' web content management, records management and even forms management functionality is not seeing much use.

I will just end this post the same way I end all SharePoint posts by stating I am not knocking the product, SharePoint maybe the perfect fit for your organisation in meeting specific requirements. The caveat is that unless you follow the same process you would normally follow for a major enterprise software procurement, and develop a good set of requirements how will you know if SharePoint will meet those requirements, or if you would be better of spending thousands on WordPress or millions on Documentum ? Remember the '5P's' - Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance !

So don't assume that because your IT shared services organisation says you can have it for 'free' that there is not going to be some impact on your bottom line. Indulge in a little prior planning to ensure your solution will at least be 'good enough' even if its not 'the best ever', and as ever Prescient Digital Media stands ready to assist you :-)