Why Microsoft is wrong in their SharePoint bring to market approach.

Since a few years I execute the job of SharePoint consultant. SharePoint seems to be one of the most successful product, maybe even the most successful product Microsoft has launched. Then why should a guy like me complain about that Microsoft is wrong in their bring to market? They probably earn billion$ with SharePoint. And they should, because it is a great product! But at the end of this post, in the quote you can see my worry.

During the SharePoint Evolution conference SPEVO held in April of this year, my memory was refreshed of something that was said during one of the analyst sessions in the SharePoint Conference 2009 (SPC09) in Las Vegas.
The SPEVO was actually the SharePoint Best Practices Europe Conference, but because of the launch of a new version called SharePoint 2010 there were not a lot best practices to share on SharePoint 2010. BUT the organizers of this conference really got the message I’ll talk about in this blog post. They organized a IW (Information Worker stream) In fact, they organized even 2 parallel streams. Well done Steve Smith!

During a session from Symon Garfield, he explained why 70% of all projects fail. There are several reason, like unclear requirements, scope changes. One of the main failure reasons is that a SharePoint project can’t be driven only by IT.
SharePoint is a business driven product. IT can install, deploy and support it, but it can not solely drive it toward long term success.
You also need to have a good user adoption plan, and some corporate guidelines (let’s call them governance) to make sure that when people really start using SharePoint, it doesn’t get a maze where you can’t do or find anything. If you take a look at the Microsoft Press books, about 99% of the SharePoint books are technically focused. There is a lack of business side books. (Thank you Michael Samspon for representing this 1%)

During that analyst panel session at SPC09 there was a discussion about having a third pillar next to the Developers and IT PRO’s. The name was not specified, but lets call this group Functional people, or Functionals.  For me, but also for all SharePoint projects in general, I thought that was good, no even great news.

But until now, nothing has changed. From Microsoft’s opinion you are or a developer, or an IT PRO.There is no new group. Or you write code, or you have access to Central Admin.

A good example of this are Ignite Sessions. They are organized for IT Professionals and Developers, but not for Functionals. Even with such a huge release of  SharePoint 2010, where a lot extra power is provided to PowerUsers, and it very important to have that link between Business and IT.

Or the Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Developer and IT Professional Learning Plan.

In my first conversation with Karine Bosch (a Belgian SharePoint MVP) right after a BIWUG session  we were talking about what we did in the SharePoint world. When she explained what she does I replied, “Oh, you’re a code sh|tter”, without being disrespectful. That’s good because we need SharePoint code writers I replied, (you can also read developers)  to cover non ‘Out Of The Box’ functionality , When I explained what I do, I summarized it with “I’m a document sh|tter”. And We also need them (I guess). Actually that’s also what Karine confirmed.

That’s why in my humble opinion that Microsoft is acting wrongly. Until now, they don’t provide any special documentation or support for these Functionals. Besides some sales and marketing information on how SharePoint will make your organization more productive, there is no specific information for the Functionals. They are just twilights. They act the “Build it and they will come” way.
And they should pay attention to this, because otherwise SharePoint might become one of these “Oooh darn, it’s a SharePoint” applications.

That’s also why I am so happy that guys like Michael Samspon, the author of Seamless Teamwork, a book on using SharePoint from a business perspective, Raymond Dux Sy , the author of SharePoint for Project Management: How to Create a Project Management Information System (PMIS) and Paul Culmsee take a different approach on SharePoint. I will do my best to provide useful information like these guys do in their blogs, webcasts, books, … That will be my way to contribute to the grey twilight zone that Microsoft can’t fill.

On the other hand, I must admit that I know a few, but just a few guys that are good at coding, have a good knowledge of the the Out Of The Box functionality of SharePoint and are able to talk to the business and translate their requirements to SharePoint functionality. These are the golden egg chickens…

But to conclude, what I’m trying to explain is that Microsoft, and the Microsoft partners will be judged by their clients (the business) based on the return SharePoint gives to the business, not on it’s nice technical gracefulness.

Just for the record, here are my my questions to Microsoft.

What are your intentions to this issue? (When)Are you planning to setup a functional stream?

Since a few years I execute the job of SharePoint consultant. SharePoint seems to be one of the most successful product, maybe even the most successful product Microsoft has launched. Then why should a guy like me complain about that Microsoft is wrong in their bring to market? They probably earn billion$ with SharePoint. And they should, because it is a great product! But at the end of this post, in the quote you can see my worry.

During the SharePoint Evolution conference SPEVO held in April of this year, my memory was refreshed of something that was said during one of the analyst sessions in the SharePoint Conference 2009 (SPC09) in Las Vegas.
The SPEVO was actually the SharePoint Best Practices Europe Conference, but because of the launch of a new version called SharePoint 2010 there were not a lot best practices to share on SharePoint 2010. BUT the organizers of this conference really got the message I’ll talk about in this blog post. They organized a IW (Information Worker stream) In fact, they organized even 2 parallel streams. Well done Steve Smith!

During a session from Symon Garfield, he explained why 70% of all projects fail. There are several reason, like unclear requirements, scope changes. If you take £SharePoint,  one of the main reasons is that a SharePoint project can’t be driven only by IT. SharePoint is a business driven product. IT can install, deploy and support it, but it can not solely drive it toward long term success.
You also need to have a good user adoption plan, and some corporate guidelines (let’s call them governance) to make sure that when people really start using SharePoint, it doesn’t get a maze where you can’t do or find anything. If you take a look at the Microsoft Press books, about 99% of the SharePoint books are technically focused. There is a lack of business side books. (Thank you Michael Samspon for representing this 1%)

During that analyst panel session at SPC09 there was a discussion about having a third pillar next to the Developers  and IT PRO’s. The name was not specified, but lets call this group Functional people, or Functionals.  For me, but also for all SharePoint projects in general, I thought that was good, no even great news.

But until now, nothing has changed. From Microsoft’s opinion you are or a developer, or an IT PRO.There is no new group. Or you write code, or you have access to Central Admin.

Take for example the Ignite Sessions. They are organized for IT Professionals and Developers, but not for Functionals. Even with such a huge release of  SharePoint 2010, where a lot extra power is provided to PowerUsers, and it very important to have that link between Business and IT.

Or the Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Developer and IT Professional Learning Plan.

In my first conversation with Karine Bosch (a Belgian SharePoint MVP) right after a BIWUG session  we were talking about what we did in the SharePoint world. When she explained what she does I replied, “Oh, you’re a code sh|tter”, without being disrespectful. That’s good because we need SharePoint code writers (you can also read developers)  to cover non ‘Out Of The Box’ functionality , When I explained what I do, I summarized it with “I’m a document sh|tter”. And We also need them (I guess). Actually that’s also what Karine confirmed.

That’s why (I would say) in my humble opinion that Microsoft is acting wrong. Until now, they don’t provide any special documentation or support for these Functionals.  Besides some sales and marketing information on how SharePoint will make your organization more productive, there is no specific information for the Functionals. They are just twilights.
And they should pay attention to this, because otherwise SharePoint might become one of these “Oooh darn, it’s a SharePoint” applications.

That’s also why I am so happy that guys like Michael Samspon, the author of Seamless Teamwork, a book on using SharePoint from a business perspective, Raymond Dux Sy , the author of SharePoint for Project Management: How to Create a Project Management Information System (PMIS) and Paul Culmsee take a different approach on SharePoint. I will do my best to provide useful information like these guys do in their blogs, webcasts, … That will be my way to contribute to the grey twilight zone that Microsoft can’t fill.

On the other hand, I must admit that I know a few, but just a few guys that are good at coding, have a good knowledge of the the Out Of The Box functionality of SharePoint and are able to talk to the business and translate their requirements to SharePoint functionality. These are the golden egg chickens…

But to conclude, what I’m also trying to explain is that Microsoft, and the Microsoft partners will be judged by their clients (the business) based on the return SharePoint gives to the business, not on it’s nice technical gracefulness.

 

Just for the record, here are my my questions to Microsoft.

What are your intentions to this issue? (When)Are you planning to setup a functional stream?

About Patrick Sledz

Patrick works as a consultant. He assists organizations to deliver SharePoint business value and create the awareness in these organizations that only a strong technical team is not sufficient to deliver this added value.

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