The SharePoint Groan – A Forest of Functionality

As SharePoint consultants, we are used to communicating with businesses whose workforce need to feel comfortable with their SharePoint-based systems. But there is quite a common phenomenon in business and IT these days when SharePoint is mentioned in the conversation – this is called  “The SharePoint Groan”.
But why does this exist? Why are some business users and IT support departments so frustrated with this product? And more importantly, how can we get rid of The SharePoint Groan?

SharePoint Shortcomings

Firstly, we must look at why some people are frustrated with SharePoint and the way it works. Although SharePoint offers many brilliant business benefits, nothing in this world is perfect. And SharePoint certainly has some problems that need ironing out.
Firstly, SharePoint is marketed by Microsoft as the answer to everybody’s questions. An unending list of product capabilities makes it all things to all men. In reality, when SharePoint is implemented as a bespoke business solution, it’s very unlikely that all these capabilities will be allowed to run free. Businesses need to keep operations efficient, and have very specific needs, so unleashing the full capacity of SharePoint onto a workforce can sometimes be a bit too much.
Paradoxically, other criticisms suggest that in offering such a wide variety of capabilities, SharePoint loses many of them in the crowd. The essential core capabilities that make it such a great tool are lost in a forest of functionality.
In a report by SmartLogic it was found that 62% of respondents reported a some dissatisfaction with the return on investment that Microsoft SharePoint had delivered for their business. There also seems to be an issue with “searchability” of files and folders within the interface, which is worrying as this is a core benefit of storing information on SharePoint.
Its complexity has made SharePoint both loved and hated.
The problems for users come when it is not optimised for their particular use, and when people in the organisation do not utilise it properly, for example, allowing duplicate content to crop up – something that SharePoint is designed to prevent.

The Solutions Grown From the Groan

If SharePoint has a billion functions, it is our job as SharePoint developers and consultants to pick out the very best and most appropriate features, and implement them in a way that will benefit the business that is using them.
Microsoft have already implemented some new ideas to improve SharePoint’s collaboration features, with an emphasis on social collaboration in SharePoint 2013, with the inclusion of Skype and Yammer functionality. For Microsoft, ease of collaboration is key to SharePoint’s success, and this is a main theme running in their current marketing campaigns.
The delight of working with SharePoint comes with the opportunity for customisation. It can be used as a framework to develop IT solutions that suit the nature of any particular company and workforce. If considered carefully and implemented correctly, it can be the answer to the questions that most businesses ask.
Another solution to The SharePoint Groan is to ensure that the business users are fully trained on the best practices of utilising the tool correctly. Investing time in training up a workforce to effectively use their business systems has a huge benefit in increasing buy-in and improving efficiency and collaboration. Sufficient refresher courses are also required to make sure you stay on top of IT upgrades and to address any developing concerns from the users.
SharePoint is a good tool, and its capabilities are often shrouded by a complexity that are both a benefit and a drawback. It’s time to make SharePoint simple again, and this user-friendly approach will improve its reputation and make it accessible to even more businesses.
If your business needs some help with their SharePoint, call RibbonFish on 0203 489 6190 or contact us here. We’re always happy to chat about your business IT issues and to provide advice on how to get the most from your business systems and Microsoft technologies. 
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