Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dispatches from the Front Lines - Themes and Trends in SharePoint Use

Sadie Van Buren of Knowledge Management Associates gave this presentation at the Real World SharePoint Experiences seminar.

Sadie also blogs at A Matter of Degree, a Microsoft SharePoint / Information Architecture / Web Usability blog.

Sadie showed some client reactions and surveys on their use and adoption of SharePoint.  The clients surveyed covered a broad spectrum of industries, size and revenue. It was a small sample set of only 19 companies.  Sadie compares SharePoint to a Swiss Army Knife.  It does lots of things but does not do them very well. There are lots of best of breed programs that do some of the things better.

Some downsides to SharePoint:  it is not Blackberry-friendly, it is not a cross-platform platform, it does not produce reports, it is not good for a relational database and it is not good for transaction uses.

Most people are using SharePoint for search and for their intranet.  Only one is using it for public facing web pages.  Sadie was surprised that about half of the clients were using blogs and wikis.  In part, because they did not ask for them.  They seemed to adopt blogs and wikis just because they were part of the platform.

These are the trends she sees in customization:
  • Site collection creation process for extranets
  • Employee phone list from AD
  • Inserting staff photos into AD
  • Theme changer
  • Alerts refresh
Sadie moved on to some of SharePoint's cultural challenges. Most of the challenges she presented for adoption of SharePoint are the same challenges we have in knowledge management.  People resist changing ways of doing things.  People are too busy to share or won't invest time, management won't assign ownership of content, governance and consistency are a low priority, and "my documents, not the company documents."

Some things that Sadie found to be ingredients for success:
  • Bulletin boards, cafeteria menu and a picture of the day drive traffic
  • Buy-in from management
  • Sponsorship from key users
  • Right attitude: "We're not implementing SharePoint; We're implementing a new KM program."
  • Findability (People need to find things)
  • Integrate with other systems to avoid duplicate data entry

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