Charlotte's SharePoint Saturday was buzzing with the new technologies surrounding SharePoint 2013, but continued to demonstrate the core challenges when implementing solutions on this platform.

With strong regional and some national representation from the speakers, the daylong event offered insights ranging from development techniques to full Cloud based implementations. Within "the Cloud" domain, sessions discussed the traditional channel of SharePoint Online, but also leveraging Azure to build entire 2013 Farms in an off-premise environment. From a development standpoint, users are excited to embrace SharePoint as a development platform, especially considering the use of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. PowerShell also took center stage; not only for Farm deployment, but options for managing content in bulk and interaction with workflows.

Despite these capabilities that give developers, administrators, and users more power over SharePoint, lingering challenges remain. During my session on ECM and SharePoint, the questions shifted away from the logical and structural elements of SharePoint and into the most treacherous aspect of this platform: Humans. Specifically, how to interact with users through governance, communications, training, and change management. The key challenges identified were as follows:

  • How should a governance team(s) be structured?
  • How do I craft effective governance policies?
  • What exactly and how often should I be communicating?
  • What are the most effective training techniques?
  • How do I get buy in from leadership that planning and embracing ECM best practices is critical?
  • How do I get users to accept new ways of thinking, especially when giving up the use of folders?

These challenges have a common thread… creating and sustaining an actionable plan. This requires involvement by all aspects of the organization, not just IT, in order to be successful. The first iterations will not be perfect and many organizations "sacrifice good for the sake of perfect" while pursuing the goal of a governable and scalable SharePoint environment.

The truth about SharePoint is that it is just a tool, and organizations should have clear business requirements before embarking on solving issues via this platform. It takes time, work, and care to get it right. Up front planning with a focus towards a KISS methodology (Keep It Simple SharePoint), may provide greater dividends than the implementation of a complex SharePoint based application. Once the core SharePoint platform is normalized and governable, is when organizations will obtain the most value and are able to expand functionality to meet additional requirements.

Like everyone at SharePoint Saturday, I am excited about the flexibility and functionality that the latest version of SharePoint offers. However, I strongly urge caution and planning before attempting to implement this platform, since SharePoint for the sake of SharePoint… is just SharePoint without purpose.