A few months ago, I had to travel quite some distance to go and deliver a SharePoint governance workshop to a customer. Having to catch a couple of flights to get there gave me an excellent opportunity to read Michael Sampson’s latest book: SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration: Using SharePoint to Enhance Business Collaboration. It was well worth my time and here is why.
I have previously expressed a concern about the general lack of focus on the deep functional knowledge of SharePoint. I can no longer count the amount of times I have come across or have heard of SharePoint implementation projects where business benefits have not been understood or even considered beforehand. From a collaboration perspective, this book fills a very important gap. If you have ever read Paul Culmsee’s excellent series on building a shared understanding with the users and want to improve in this area, then this book is a tool that will help you get there.
The book starts off by taking a step back from SharePoint and discusses why we even need it in the first place. It presents a number of frameworks for defining what collaboration as a concept, regardless of technology, means to the business and how we can get a return on the investment. I think it is fair to say that many SharePoint consultants have not spent enough time thinking about what collaboration really means in a business context. This book provides some valuable insight in this regard.
After examining what collaboration encompasses and outlining the critical success factors, Sampson evaluates SharePoint against those success factors. We get an honest assessment of SharePoint with specific examples of which capabilities the product is strong in and the ones where it is a bit immature or insufficient at this point in time. And trust me, there will be a few times where you will breathe a sigh of relief and think: ”I thought so! I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that this just won’t work.”
Armed with the fundamental understanding of collaboration and what SharePoint is capable of doing, the book moves on to the always interesting and challenging topics of governance, engaging the business and user adoption. There are an increasing number of resources out there covering these areas, but in contrast to many of those, Sampson is very hands-on with plenty of ideas to what specific actions are required to make it all happen. Covering these topics can easily turn towards a fuzzy discussion, but Sampson manages to keep it real and provides us with some clear guidelines for approaching governance and user engagement which with no doubt are based on many years of experience in the industry.
If you play the role of a SharePoint functional consultant in the area of collaboration, then this is a must read. It is also an invaluable resource for SharePoint architects, program drivers and anyone else playing a key role in SharePoint collaboration rollouts. And needless to say that the governance workshop I delivered immediately after reading this book went very well. Sampson’s book further enhanced my ability to explain the central issues to both the business and IT.