“Why I Hate SharePoint”

This was the title of an e-mail I got the other day from a friend who had to vent a bit about hating SharePoint.

His team, an international finance team, maintains a shared “out of office” calendar so they can be aware of and plan around PTO for their global team members.  The calendar was suddenly no longer available to people who needed it, and quarter-end closing activities were being scheduled.  After several rounds of (by his admission) increasingly shrill and snarky communications from him he learned that:

  • The team calendar had been migrated from the previous on-premises instance of SharePoint to a new on-line instance
  • Inheritance of permissions had been broken on the source site to tailor permissions for this calendar, and the new calendar inherited them from its parent, so few of the existing users could get to the new calendar
  • The Site Owners for that calendar were notified, but did not read the e-mail message, or they read it and failed to act, or they forgot about it
  • The two-week period between initial migration and final migration (designated for testing) came and went without any testing
  • The migration occurred without the (non Site Owner) users knowing about it.

The whole episode was resolved via patient and helpful helpdesk workers and my contrite friend, but it took several days of elapsed time to resolve.  It underscored the challenges I see clients face every day, and reminded me:

The Engineering is not the problem.

The Engineering is not the problem.

  1. The technology is complex.  We take for granted things like single sign-on, mobile connectivity, security, and uptime, but enormous amounts of effort are required to make it work at scale, and integrating SharePoint with other systems can increase the complexity by orders of magnitude.
  2. We ask SharePoint to do a lot:  from search to disposition/retention to navigability to consistency of both content and meta-content — it’s a tall order, for example, to transform the “Grandma’s Attic” of network file storage into a highly-managed content repository.
  3. We ask our employees to learn sometimes arcane things about SharePoint.  They all have full-time jobs already, and without strong executive sponsors willing to help “carve out” time for them to contribute and/or learn, getting them engaged is a big challenge.
  4. Changing how people collaborate is hard, and there is a certainly a “bell curve” of collaboration aptitude.  I’ve worked with colleagues who found it easier to stay up all night coding a solution to a problem than calling a client to clarify a requirement (the solution turned out to not be necessary, as the client clarified after the fact).  People are messy.

Simply stated:  You can get the technology completely right, which is no small feat, and still fail at collaboration if you don’t also execute the human elements well.

sharepoint doesnt suck you suckAvePoint’s Dux Raymond Sy (among others — this image was posted by him back in 2013) is known for saying, “SharePoint doesn’t suck — you suck!” to make a point about effective governance, solid training, and motivated users.  I passed this on to my friend once he was out of the woods and his great sense of humor returned.

With the benefit of hindsight, I have a few ideas for how I would have headed off the issue my friend encountered — how would YOU have prevented or addressed the issue?

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