If you’re confused about SharePoint don’t worry you’re not the only one. Over the years of talking with numerous customers about SharePoint I’ve come to realize there is a tremendous gap when it comes to Business Users and what IT understands about SharePoint. It’s difficult to believe given SharePoint is Microsoft’s bestselling platform to date. So what gives?
SharePoint started out as a few platforms and it has since morphed into the ubiquitous portal software at the center of many Microsoft Products such as CRM, Project Management, and Accounting/ERP. Unfortunately a lot of the functionality is lost on many people especially on the business side and for those that have never used the product. Often IT doesn't fully understand the capabilities which in turn creates even larger gap between both parties. The problem is getting beyond some of the basic capabilities of the platform and being able to map different business processes. What might be meaningful to HR may not be meaningful to a project team. Even as an outside consulting firm charged with helping customers implement we face some of the same challenges. We find that the initial stages before any requirements are written we are educating different departments on where other customers have used various capabilities. This leads us to much more meaningful conversations and we can break it down into smaller more manageable pieces.
A few tips to remember in the very beginning stages:
Start Small: A Proof of concept is a great way to get everyone involved. There are times when you will build something and you may have to revisit at another time. This is okay as ideas sometimes take time to become fleshed out. The key is get end user involvement very early on as ultimately they will be using it and hopefully become a content contributor later on as they mature.
Paint the Picture: Most companies will learn by understanding how similar customers have used SharePoint. No sense reinventing the wheel and why not learn from others? What works for some may or may not work for your particular situation. You will have to try things and see how users adopt and use the platform. The key is trying different approaches.