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Expectations for SharePoint & ECM: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!

Our good friends at AIIM this week released a new Industry Watch study that digs into how well users believe SharePoint is meeting their expectations in the context of enterprise content management (ECM). Unfortunately, some of the results are downright frightening – not in the least because they validate this observer’s conviction that there’s not nearly enough planning going on.

You have to read it to believe it – unless you work every day, as I do, to help organizations avoid and/or overcome the shortcomings the research illuminates. And I quote:

  • 46% of respondents reported their biggest ongoing issue to be the lack of strategic plans on what to use SharePoint for, and what not to use it for. [Governance – metadata, classifications, taxonomy – was cited next most often, by 43% of those responding.]
  • 70% have no acceptable-use policy, and only 28% have a guidance policy on corporate classification and use of content types and columns. Only 11% have legal discovery policies for SharePoint.
  • Over 60% of organizations have yet to bring their SharePoint installation into line with existing compliance policies.
  • Un-governed SharePoint is considered to be increasing compliance risks in 10% of sites.
  • 35% have no long-term [records] retention strategy, including 27% of even the largest organizations.

For those who will now accuse me of cherry-picking the bad news, I have but two words: you’re right! But I’ve done so because none of the rest of the great information this study includes – about primary drivers, third-party applications, implementation experiences – means a thing if you don’t get your planning ducks in a row first.

Not that you have to figure out every thing about everything before going forward – too much crops up while you’re in process for that to be realistic. But you have to at least think through the critical whys and wherefores, and the fit with the rest of the organization (technologically, operationally, and culturally), if you’re going to avoid spending gobs of time and money that you probably can’t really afford.

So now you know why I’m frightened. How about you?

This post originally appeared in on the AIIM Community Web site, where I am an ECM Expert Blogger. Please let me know if you read something there, or here, that you either agree with, disagree with, or want to comment on. And if you think it’d be valuable to have a little independent outside perspective on your particular situation, well, please let me know that too!

8 thoughts on “Expectations for SharePoint & ECM: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!”

  1. Steve, thanks for the excellent article. Yes the statistics you site are sobering and a bit frightening. But the light shed on this subject may help organizations understand the importance of taking a proper planning approach to SharePoint. By the way, the most shocking statistic to me is the 46% of respondents who reported their biggest ongoing issue to be the lack of strategic plans on what to use SharePoint for. Amazing!

  2. Timely article. SharePoint to me resembles a battleship ploughing through a yacht marina, creating a massive bow wave, steaming ahead mindlessly leaving enormous damage in its wake. The MicroSoft publicity machine is doing an amazing job of pushing SharePoint down every corporate throat, promising that it will solve every document problem you ever had. People tell me, “We get it for free so we’re going to use it.” In my experience it will be the most expensive freebie they ever received. I have watched people engage SharePoint developers to create systems for which out-of-the-box packages would have been perfectly suited. In one case I used such a package to design the client’s document database and get it running in less time than it took the SharePoint developers to write the scoping proposal. I’m not kidding. I had the prototype running in three hours. The developers took 5 days to send the client a proposal for the scoping exercise alone. My solution was rejected because the software I based it on was not an approved application, whereas SharePoint was. 6 months later the developers and the client are still arguing over details in the scoping document. Both have already spent tens of thousands of dollars worth of time. And the client doesn’t yet have a firm quote.
    Be VERY afraid.
    Paul Molloy

  3. Many Companies haven’t had governance and compliance features in place. This has been true since I started working with software in the early 90’s. I would ask who cares. Sarbanes Oxley came and went. It still exists but the weakest SharePoint deployment meets the standards and similar standards. Why should companies care about governance, acceptable use policies mentioned in the post? Are there new legislations that could cost them millions or billions if not compliant? If not than why should they/we care? Legislation of content types? Really? I rode my bike without a helmet today! Gasp!


  4. Sorry, but why being afraid?

    Yes, Sharepoint is massive, is demanding. But these kind of problems are not a question of sharepoint itself, it´s a question of management. Use Cases, Policies, Governance, Metadata etc. are something the management has to think about BEFORE they implement sharepoint. If you want a truck to move heavy load, you can´t complain about its different and demanding behaviour compared to a normal car. Sorry.

  5. Ludwig, you are exactly right. Unfortunately, though, too many management teams do not think about these critical elements ahead of time — partly, perhaps, because the hype surrounding SharePoint (it’s free! it’s versatile!) leads many to believe the software will take care of everything they need to know.

    As Paul said, it’s “the most expensive freebie” anyone ever received, and the lack of planning is what makes it so.

    Yes, Chris, it IS amazing — and for all the wrong reasons!

    Thanks for writing, everyone —

  6. Guys so sorry to hear your banter, really seems that the environments you have worked in have had no governance nor effective change management to use SharePoint. You are confusing Microsoft Office , plug and play with SharePoint, an application platform that needs a well constructed strategy before you venture into anything. Steve , you talk about the management teams being responsible and then you blame the technology. When an organisation “buys into SharePoint” i will always tell them you have essentially “bought into” a change management strategy and you better be prepared….perhaps you should look thorugh a different set of lenses next time
    Des Russell

  7. First thing is many thanks to the author because very helpful information for Sharepoint Developers really great.

    It is also important that the SharePoint development team understands the demand characteristics that the solution is expected to handle.

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