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The best things in life may be free, but SharePoint isn’t one of them

It has long been said that the best things in life are free. But what they don’t tell you is that many of the things you think of as freebies can end up being quite expensive.

Plane tickets, for instance, which inevitably cause you to have to book a hotel room, rent a car, buy meals out, and so forth. Red Sox tickets, because you have to park, eat, and drink – and this past summer, suffer through the club’s sorry performance on the field.

And SharePoint, whose “free-ness” bubbled up this week at both a very well attended AIIM New England event (recap) and an always-interesting AIIM-led infochat on the subject.

I continue to be amazed by how persistent the notion is that SharePoint doesn’t cost anything because it comes bundled in with some other Microsoft offerings. It is true that there is software that carries the moniker that you get when you buy some other things. But this doesn’t mean you are ready to roll out an enterprise solution – or even a departmental one – because there are so many other factors to consider besides its elemental availability.

· Do you have an appropriate number of servers to accommodate what you want to do, and are they suitably architected for the job? Even if all is well in these regards, there is certainly a cost in terms of capacity and performance that you have to take into account.

· Do you have an appropriate number of licenses not only for SharePoint but for the other software stacks that need to be part of the equation? It often comes as a surprise to folks when they learn that there are many things that are not included when seeking to install a fully functional and effective solution.

· Have you matched SharePoint’s out-of-the-box functionalities with the business problems you are trying to solve? Many people realize too late that they have to procure a third-party add-on or engage in some potentially expensive customization to get the job done because native SharePoint just isn’t deep enough in the areas they care about most.

· Have you established the governance mechanisms needed to contain, recover from, and/or eliminate the “sprawl” that inevitably results from SharePoint’s relative ease-of-use, which often serves as an invitation for people to build stuff on their own? You may think you know about every instance of the product currently in use in your organization, but my Spidey-sense tells me that there are plenty already flying under the radar, and you will have to spend time and thus internal money to bring them all to heel.

This list barely begins to scratch the surface, but it should be enough to give you the right idea: that as versatile and effective as SharePoint can be, the one thing it isn’t is free.

Want a longer list of points to ponder to shape your SharePoint thinking? Float me a note and request your free copy of our exclusive guide “23 Key Questions When Thinking About SharePoint”!

2 thoughts on “The best things in life may be free, but SharePoint isn’t one of them”

  1. Very true Mr. Weissman. It is always interesting when speaking with prospects and clients that think they will scrap this ECM stuff and just “use” SharePoint! Oh really. The other failure for many SharePoint implementations is the lack of an administrator that truly understands what SharePoint “is” and what it “is not” so that it can be aligned with business requirements. Quite often it cannot be, and they you must go to add-ons and complementary software products that will give it the functionality you thought it had. Without defining business requirements, leave it in the box. Without doing a total cost of ownership analysis of other ECM options (assuming you are using SharePoint for document management), leave it in the box. At the end of the day, your total cost of ownership can easily equal packaged ECM solutions. Both are good solutions, but are they good solutions for your applications?

  2. I could not agree more! Many organizations assume that SP will suit their needs until they ‘pop the hood’ and see what it costs to configure. There are SP experts on every continent that make it look easy, but in the end – it’s not cheap!

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