SharePoint MythBusters: Top 5 Misconceptions of the Platform
Here are the most common SharePoint myths you should break to avoid wrong expectations about the platform when starting your own project.
If you’ve decided to adopt a SharePoint portal but want to check out the web first for some proofs of your correct choice, you’ll be rather disappointed, as there are numerous horror stories of disastrous SharePoint projects. That’s what makes some developers and users quit SharePoint, thinking it’s the worst solution ever. But what is the reason of the protest? Is SharePoint really guilty?
Here’s some interesting statistics that shows unexpected facts. An independent AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) study of over 400 SharePoint users revealed that 4 of the top 5 SharePoint failure reasons are companies’ internal problems (e.g. lack of user training and SharePoint expertise, absence of strategic plans on SharePoint and acceptable use policies).
To go further, sometimes customers have the wrong expectations about the platform from the very beginning, which results in quite a disappointment after the deployment. So let’s take a closer look at the myths surrounding SharePoint.
Myth 1. SharePoint is Pre-Configured to Tasks
It’s wrong to think that out-of-the-box SharePoint features can offer ready-to-use HR management, purchasing, accounting or reporting tools. Moreover, it’s neither a CRM nor an ERP, so it’s impossible to handle sophisticated customer or production management processes with SharePoint.
SharePoint can’t replace industry-specific solutions or enterprise software. However, it’s a highly flexible platform that loves customization. This is a big advantage for small and middle-sized companies that don’t need complex and pricey software and thus can adopt SharePoint to manage their business processes. SharePoint is also able to complement big enterprise solutions, especially if quality collaboration is needed, as it offers a range of features (feeds, sites) that are difficult to get in an enterprise system.
Myth 2. SharePoint is a Database
Yes, SharePoint sits on top of SQL Server, which is a relational database management system, but SharePoint itself is not a database. SharePoint looks similar to a relational database, as it uses lists with columns and data types to store data, exactly like SQL Server. Still, SharePoint is not able to substitute a relational database because it can’t handle complex data relationships, large volumes of items or transactions.
So if you just need to use simple data structures (e.g. to store contacts or create lists of tasks), SharePoint will do. But if you think about storing complex data and building multiple connections between your tables, SharePoint will lead you nowhere. So you’d better not waste your time on trying to stuff SharePoint with high-volume transaction processing.
Myth 3. SharePoint is User Configurable
When choosing SharePoint as a corporate portal, users often think that they will be able to change it as much as they want. It’s not true. To run well, SharePoint should be customized and supported by the professional SharePoint consultants or in-house administrators with relevant expertise.
Users are granted access rights according to their roles in the workflow or the collaboration process and can change features only if they have the system administrator’s permission. Additionally, SharePoint should not be configured by users as it threatens the system’s security and performance.
Myth 4. Out-of-the-box SharePoint is Enough
SharePoint does have strong out-of-the-box features, so it’s possible to start using it with only minimum customization. However, if you want to get a perfectly designed SharePoint portal, please be aware that you will need professional customization to achieve a bright result.
SharePoint customization is particularly important in order to prevent the user adoption problem. Only user-friendly SharePoint portals and sites that offer positive user experience can really achieve success and be appreciated by employees. To have it, you can’t do without customization.
Myth 5. SharePoint Engages Employees
Though provided with a large number of collaboration tools, SharePoint can’t engage employees on its own. This is the task of the SharePoint users to refill the portal with fresh content and collaborate intensively.
As for collaboration, it requires changes in employees’ behavior. And it’s not so easy to convert email and Excel devotees into using a new method of workflow management and collaboration. Dedicated training and careful explanations of the system’’s functionality will help you during the first months after SharePoint implementation.
Defining precise goals for SharePoint is the most important step before the project starts. Clear understanding of what SharePoint is and what it is not will facilitate the development process and will help to achieve the necessary result. Don’t be afraid to address your pre-implementation questions to our SharePoint consultant who will help to marry your requirements with the platform capabilities, thus protecting you from extra investments of time and resources, or even from a complete redesign of the system.