I've begun to realize my pop culture references date me as the dinosaur that I am. Just the other day, I used a clip of a Saturday Night Live sketch (starring the original cast, with Gilda, Dan and Chevy) to make a point about Microsoft's SharePoint, calling it the Shimmer Floor Wax of the enterprise. You remember Shimmer (if you're fortysomething). It's the faux product that was a floor wax and a dessert topping.
SharePoint's suitability for a multitude of tasks has made it Microsoft's fastest-growing product. But the growth has been largely unchecked, resulting in headaches for both users and IT administrators. Fred Yeomans, a consultant at T4G Limited with a long and impressive technology resume (thanks, LinkedIn!), expounds on this in a column on Legal IT Professionals. Folks get so focused on the possibilities and the underlying technology, they don't bother to evaluate and articulate their reasons for using SharePoint, Writes Yeomans:
The focus should be on implementing solutions to real business problems, bringing real business value. That was obvious to everyone, wasn't it? If this is obvious, then why do I still have conversations with potential clients who come to me saying "Help us implement SharePoint" when they cannot clearly articulate why they want to implement it? Sure, they can spout a lot of vague statements about documents, collaboration, communication, workflow, etc. But where are the clear statements about how this is all going to help their firm?
Amen, brother. This is a problem at many organizations, and it's not exclusive to SharePoint. Many organizations remind me of the power customers at Best Buy, the ones who want to the be the first to own the latest technological gadgets whether or not they need them. (Or can afford them. Guess that's why such folks put so many of their purchases on plastic.)
Yeomans faults three things for contributing to this problem:
Rogue users who force IT's hand on new technology by bringing it in without IT's knowledge. (Of course, IT often plays a role in creating these rogues.)
He wraps up by offering seven suggestions. It's good, clear-headed advice that should be helpful when evaluating and implementing any new tech tool or platform. I'm only reproducing two here. To get the rest, please read his original excellent post.