14 December, 2008

Understanding SharePoint for what it is

Microsoft markets SharePoint as a platform for connecting people, process and information. That could mean many things. And it certainly does mean different things to different people. Microsoft provide a bit more detail on this page outlining the capabilities of MOSS but that’s not really enough information to really understand the platform.

Lots of issues follow from not properly understanding the platform. I have seen several projects fail because SharePoint was being used for something it was never designed for. Often people get carried away and want to believe that one miracle product can solve all problems. That is obviously not the case.

The key point is that it takes time to fully understand SharePoint. And once you do feel you have a reasonable good understanding, remember that others might not be there yet. If you’re a SharePoint consultant, keep in mind that people you work for often will have misconceptions about the platform and it’s part of your job to lead them to a better understanding.

If you’re feeling slightly lost in terms of understanding SharePoint or want some guidance on how to make other people understand SharePoint, I’d advice you to read the following three landmark blog posts. They’re all fairly brief so it’ll be well worth your time.

  • SharePoint is not the Holy Grail by Patrick Tisseghem.
    SharePoint often gets criticised based on the wrong assumptions. If you expect SharePoint to be able to solve all your problems, you will be disappointed. The product was designed for certain purposes and should be measured against those purposes.
  • SharePoint = Platform (and Application) by Arpan Shah.
    SharePoint is not an end-to-end solution. It’s a platform upon which you can build solutions. SharePoint has some particular strengths around serving the long tail of specialised needs within an organisation.
  • Your (Share)Point of View by Woody Windischman.
    Did you ever hear the old parable about the blind men meeting an elephant? This is a brilliant analogy to the size of SharePoint and the many different perceptions of the product.

1 comment:

Eric Swanson said...

200% agree. "The key point is that it takes time to fully understand SharePoint." I wish even the self-proclaimed Subject Matter Experts be clearer... When making a statement about SharePoint, tell us if you're using WSS, MOSS Standard, or Enterprise Edition and which version! I've often read "advice" online about SharePoint, when it only applied to WSS and not MOSS.