Blog | Mar 30, 2013

SharePoint: Business or IT Driven Initiative?

A common theme within companies is how to streamline communication channels and improve access to data.  After all, better communication and easier access to data leads to improved processes, higher productivity and improved margins.  But how can this be accomplished while still keeping the data secure and accessible to only those resources who need it, both inside and outside the company?  A common, and very good, approach is to leverage SharePoint.  Like any major project, though, it comes with its ‘share’ of considerations and complexities. 

Initative

The first thing to consider is where is the initiative being driven from.  In many companies, a SharePoint implementation is considered an IT driven initiative rather than a business solution.  So what happens in this scenario?  Your IT department looks to the value of the product and how it can help alleviate existing IT tasks by consolidating information, building security and improving the overall communications.  But what happens if the business is not involved?  Lack of adoption.  Your IT resources can only take the initiative so far by leveraging what they know about the tasks they are involved with, but it requires involvement from the business to not only help alleviate those burdensome tasks, but design it in a fashion that will work for the business community. A successful implementation requires collaboration from both sides.  If the initiative is only driven from one side, the result will be a design that either does not successfully work for the business community or does not alleviate the burdens of the IT staff, but only makes it worse. 

Functionality

SharePoint offers a lot of functionality and integration.  You can leverage SharePoint to provide Intranet Portals, document and file management, collaboration, extranets, website and business intelligence, but what you need to consider is what part of all of this is going to help you the most.  It sounds great to create a large project to leverage many aspects of what SharePoint has to offer, but if the scope becomes too large then corners will be cut, budget will be exceeded and timelines will be extended.  The end result will be a solution that, again, does not work for the company but only act as a sponge that absorbed a large amount of budget will little to no ROI.  This creates an environment that can be difficult to win over with future projects and initiatives.

Expertise

In today’s corporate world, most IT departments are stretched too thin to manage the complexities of a solid SharePoint environment, as well as allocate the necessary time, budget and resources to the other critical business initiatives and enterprise applications.  A SharePoint implementation is often looked at as something that can be handled with internal resources and the need to bring in external consulting is usually taken out of the equation as a way to save budget, but the end result is usually just the opposite.  With the depth of functionality that SharePoint offers, not bringing in the right resources to help design, setup, test and train can often cause you to spend more money and have a longer time line with a result that does not work.    

You will see that a SharePoint implementation, just like any major implementation project, should not be an IT driven OR Business driven initiative, but a collaborative effort between both groups to make it successful.

If you are looking for a best practice approach to enhance your collaboration, document management, data access and extranet needs, don’t be scared off by stories of bad SharePoint implementations.  Consider the topics mentioned above and plan properly.  Get the buy in from IT and the business users first, identify the key functionality you want to leverage and employ the expertise that will solidify a successful project.

If you are in the middle of a project that is not going as planned or have been involved in a ‘not ready for prime-time’ implementation of SharePoint, it isn’t too late.  Group your resources together, identify what needs to be done, plan it and most importantly bring in the expertise that will help guide you through successfully.  SharePoint has a lot to offer, you just need to make sure you are on the right path to get there!