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Why SharePoint isn’t for Everyone

  • 8 March 2013
  • Author: James Brown
  • Number of views: 11028

1. It's a Platform, Not a Product

The biggest problem most businesses will have with SharePoint is that it isn't really a product, it's a platform. To make it work for your business, you'll generally need to customize it with the help of an army of programmers and IT experts. For most businesses, who just want a simple tool to help them share documents, organize projects, and replace email with something more organized, it's not a good fit.

This is, in large part, because SharePoint tries to be all things to all people. It's not just a platform for project management, digital communications, and document sharing, it's a platform for setting up blogs, web content, wikis, ERP, CRM, and on and on. And it does all of these with mediocre success, because it's not a dedicated tool built to solve any of these problems specifically.

Worse still, SharePoint is marketed as a product, when in reality, it's just a platform. The end result for many businesses is a ridiculous amount of expense for a small subset of features that will actually be used.

2. It's Not Focused

This is closely related to the first point above, but not entirely the same thing. By trying to create an open-ended product that can be used to tackle anything, Microsoft has created a tool that puts open-endedness first and business goals second. In short, the tool makes almost no assumptions about what it will be used for.

This is great for developers and IT professionals who want to hack SharePoint into something that does meet a specific purpose, but it's terrible for businesses looking for something that helps them meet a specific set of goals out-of-the-box.

Most businesses that are considering using SharePoint are looking for a few simple capabilities:

  1. Secure file sharing with flexible permissions
  2. Easy to set up and easy to understand workflows
  3. Organized, searchable electronic discussions

And, it turns out, there are cheaper SharePoint alternatives available, which also tackle each of these problems with a more targeted and intuitive approach.

3. It's Not Really Built for Project Management

Finally, most companies that hear about SharePoint as a tool for digital collaboration immediately think that it's meant for project management. In reality, SharePoint can only be transformed into a project management tool with a great deal of customization and add-ons.

While it can be transformed into a project management tool by integrating it with Microsoft Project, that tool is also filled with needless bloat and features, and it subtly forces companies into the “waterfall” method of management, failing to account for contingencies and the non-sequential nature of many tasks.

Far simpler tools already exist that make project management a straightforward process. While there are certainly some businesses that can benefit from SharePoint, most businesses will only face needless IT and confusing interfaces by choosing to work with the platform. In general, collaboration and project management will work more effectively if the tool is simple enough not to require training.

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