Seems every day I read about the death of SharePoint, should Microsoft kill SharePoint, etc. I’m not concerned. Remember the mainframe computer (or at least reading about them in Intro to Computers)? They were declared obsolete and a thing of the past over 20 years ago. Yet they are still churning away, reliably processing a gazillion records per second with nary a reboot and less than 5 seconds downtime per year! As far as computing has come, and as amazing as the devices we have now there hasn’t been a machine developed that can compete against the mainframe with the balance of power and reliability. And…mountains and mountains of legacy data are housed in the mainframe system. How does this relate to SharePoint, you ask? It runs on the Windows platform, which is as fragile as a snowflake is a forest fire. Companies have invested quite a lot of their IT infrastructure into Windows products, and they all integrate seamlessly with each other (just ask the marketing department). Plus, the Microsoft Office Suite. People can’t live without Word and Excel, and it’s a proven fact that executives crave the PowerPoint. While a Microsoft shop is not as deeply entrenched as the mainframe guys, the principle holds true. Change is difficult, and migrating all that data to something new is in most cases a bridge too far. Predicitng the end of this product or that company is nothing new. Consider this “Microsoft is Dead” article circa 2007.
After reading Joel Olesen’s article (http://www.collabshow.com/2013/09/26/do-consultants-really-matter-to-sharepoint-success-infographic-2/) about SharePoint deployment success I was reminded of an episode of Top Gear UK. In it Richard Hammond (a skilled performance car driver) was to drive a Formula One race car on a track. “How hard could it be?” he boasted. Apparently it is very hard. Take the steering wheel for instance (costs about $50k, and you thought SharePoint was expensive!) which has over 20 controls. As well, when entering a corner you must be traveling at a high rate of speed. The car must be going fast so that the front and rear wings can generate enough downforce coupled with the grip of warm tires, or the ($2.6M) car will go hurtling into the haybales! Check out that clip here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9773pisjCSw
My point is that many IT departments approach their SharePoint deployments in the same manner. How hard could it be, right? Just install the software, and send the URL to the companywide distro list. Piece of cake, we’ll be outta here by 7. Much like the Hamster’s F1 experience, the reality for most implementing SharePoint is that you need a good (pit) crew and experienced professionals to drive development, user adoption, security, governance, branding, etc. Anyone can roll the car out of the garage, but it takes a good crew to get it up to speed in the real world and keep it there. Spend the time to build a good team and think about all aspects of deployment, or risk crashing your deployment.