These Things I Believe: A Manifesto

My totally NON-deep-woods-shack, NON-long-beard-long-fingernails SharePoint Manifesto — totally NOT scratched out on a long roll of paper towels with a pushpin and my own blood, I swear

DISCLAIMERS:

  1. Please take this list as a humor piece first. This is mostly a venting of all the little frustrations that build up over a decade and a half working in any industry.
  2. Although in many cases I direct very presumptuous criticisms at “you”, please take those as being directed at other people who are reading this rant. Of course I don’t mean “you” personally. If you are part of an organization that is doing SharePoint things right, well then — fantastic! Please contact me so I can write a case study about you!
  3. Going over this list with a fresh eye, I see it could be taken as a big downer. So let me say this list is the Bad News. I will provide the Good News in my posts over time.
  4. I intend this to be a living document, and will add to it as additional points occur to me, or until I get in serious trouble and have to take it down.

THESE THINGS I BELIEVE: THE BAD NEWS

  1. If you build it, they (enterprise workers with real information-management challenges) will NOT come.
  2. If you build it, and promote it and incentivize it with awesome internal marketing campaigns, a naming contest, badges and authority and brownie points, etc. etc., they will come for a little while.
  3. SharePoint is a platform, a canvas on which to paint your organization’s information-sharing masterpiece. It comes with a few Starter Kits (site templates, Lists, apps) that, as my label implies, are just there to get you started.
  4. Requirements Process:  When you talk to the people who will use your intranet or other information-management solution, you are asking all the wrong questions.
  5. In fact you’re most likely talking to all the wrong people.
  6. Anyone who is not a day-to-day user who says he knows what the users want has no idea what the users want.
  7. Your overall homepage is going to be too slow to load.
  8. There is no such thing as “SharePoint branding.” There is only “SharePoint RE-branding.” In most cases, it’s not worth the time and expense required to do it. SharePoint is an application, not a website; no one demands to have Outlook or Dropbox redesigned per company (other than logo and color scheme, maybe). I say this as a former graphic designer:  use a built-in theme (at least in phase 1), and spend the money on BAs and testers.
  9. Front-line users who speak up about what tools and resources front-line users need are usually ignored because they’re seen as annoying gadflies. Yet they’re generally right, and they generally deeply care about making everyone’s lives easier and the organization more successful.
  10. It’s often repeated that an initiative must have measurable objectives, and those must align with departmental and organizational goals. But I’ve seen black swans more often than I’ve seen organizational-goal-alignment documentation.
  11. When your intranet or other SharePoint solution goes live, you will not be ready to manage and support it, much less improve on it, because you don’t have an Intranet Team in place.
  12. Your SharePoint planning, development, rollout and ongoing support will, all told, end up costing you twice what you currently think it will. But if you do it RIGHT, it will be an investment with a big return.
  13. Your Search tools, especially, will not be well-accepted by users without approximately four times the thought and planning you’re currently budgeting.
  14. The custom web part or widget or timer job your developers are brilliantly coding has already been developed (and tested, and bug-fixed, and field tested by hundreds of companies) by a professional firm that specializes in that sort of thing. And buying it will cost about 10% as much as building it.
  15. Speaking of custom development:  if you are interviewing coders and you don’t have them write code in the interview, you deserve the quality you end up with. (This one is totally lifted from Joel Spolsky.)
  16. Adding “social” features to your intranet will not break down silos. It will create yet another silo (that users will need to context-switch into and out of). Put another way:  If you roll out “social” features (microblogging, profiles, blogs and wikis, “shares” and “likes”, gamified communities, etc.), no one will use them because they’ll be too busy doing their jobs.
  17. Employees who really want to use these features will probably shrink from them for fear of looking like they’re NOT doing their jobs.
  18. Document management:  if your people are new to SharePoint, they will have more trouble getting the knack of using SharePoint Document Libraries than you think. For example, without more training than you’re currently planning, you’re going to see a lot of Version Control Bypass, e.g., the same document in a Library multiple times with version notes added to the filename. Because that’s how they did it on the P: drive.
  19. With the exception of using it to crunch a set of numbers (its intended purpose) … MICROSOFT EXCEL IS FROM THE DEVIL.
  20. Navigation/Information Architecture:  The users don’t care which department or location is holding the document or tool. They just want to find it/use it.
  21. When users want feedback on a document, they don’t care where they need to share it or how (our department site? Our team site? Our project site? My MySite? What if not everyone has access to those?). They only care about WHO they need feedback from.
  22. We as technologists want end users to STOP doing things the “wrong” way (mass email attachments, Excel spreadsheets, paper, etc.). Well:  USERS WILL STOP DOING THINGS THE “WRONG” WAY WHEN WE MAKE IT EASIER TO DO THEM THE “RIGHT” WAY.
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About the Author: Jeff Kelly

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