It’s rare to come across an organization (typically mid or enterprise size) that doesn’t have Sharepoint deployed. In fact out of all of the large organizations I have worked with or talked with I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t have an instance of Sharepoint deployed. Many collaboration vendors today all claim that they are being used by all the Fortune 100 (and they are), Yammer recently announced that they had over 800,000 paid users. Compare this to Sharepoint which over the past 5-6 years has sold over 36 million user licenses!
So it appears that Sharepoint is widely popular among many companies yet when I talk to employees at these companies it’s rare for me to hear anything positive said about the platform. It’s a bit of a conundrum, Sharepoint is everywhere yet it appears that many people hate it, well, if they hate it then why are companies deploying it?
There are a few major reasons for why companies end up going with Sharepoint:
- they get it a very low cost (oftentimes free) because they are Microsoft partners
- they are already so dependent on Microsoft products that Sharepoint seems to be the logical choice
- a proper vendor evaluation never takes place and instead the company goes with the apparently easiest and lowest cost alternative
- enterprise security from a reliable vendor
- companies know that Microsoft isn’t going anywhere whereas some of the other collaboration vendors in the space might not be around the long
- it was one of the earlier collaboration platforms available (initial release was actually in 2001)
- they focus on what Microsoft says it can do and is good vs what it can really do and is good at (marketing vs reality)
I’m not going to go into detail about the platform itself and why so many people are upset with it. You can do a simple Google search for “I hate Sharepoint” or “Sharepoint sucks” to find more than your fare share of articles, blog posts, and videos about why people are unhappy with the product.
Companies that deploy Sharepoint (or any other collaboration platform) and then realize it’s not the right fit end up in a bit of a pickle. It’s very tedious and expensive to switch collaboration vendors especially if you’re a large company. Some companies such as TELUS use certain features of Sharepoint integrated into a broader collaboration platform toolset but many other companies out there simply feel stuck and lost.
The reality is that Sharepoint is getting such a bad rap because many of the companies using the platform shouldn’t be using it, Sharepoint is not the right fit for many companies that continue to deploy it. This is why companies such as Newsgator were created, to help improve the usability and functionality of Sharepoint. This is also why so many vendors out there continue to integrate their solutions with Sharepoint. Some vendors try to replace Sharepoint but many acknowledge that it’s not going anywhere since it is so deeply rooted within many companies.
It’s unfair to criticize Sharepoint by saying “it sucks” because it certainly has its uses within organizations but that doesn’t mean it should be used in EVERY organization. Sharepoint 2010 has definitely seen some improvements and I believe that Microsoft will continue to make enhancements to the platform (or they will buy Newsgator). Honestly companies that deploy Sharepoint only to see negative feedback about the platform really don’t have anyone to blame but themselves, harsh but true.
Moral of the story is that organizations need to do more when it comes to making sure that they are deploying the right tool for their employees. Sharepoint isn’t necessarily a bad platform but it is certainly not THE collaboration solution. Make sure to do your homework before deploying tools.