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Why SharePoint Is So Popular, Yet Gets Such A Bad Rap

Posted by on February 22, 2012

It’s rare to come across an organization (typically mid or enterprise size) that doesn’t have Sharepoint deployed.  In fact out of all of the large organizations I have worked with or talked with I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t have an instance of Sharepoint deployed.  Many collaboration vendors today all claim that they are being used by all the Fortune 100 (and they are), Yammer recently announced that they had over 800,000 paid users.  Compare this to Sharepoint which over the past 5-6 years has sold over 36 million user licenses!

So it appears that Sharepoint is widely popular among many companies yet when I talk to employees at these companies it’s rare for me to hear anything positive said about the platform.  It’s a bit of a conundrum, Sharepoint is everywhere yet it appears that many people hate it, well, if they hate it then why are companies deploying it?

There are a few major reasons for why companies end up going with Sharepoint:

  • they get it a very low cost (oftentimes free) because they are Microsoft partners
  • they are already so dependent on Microsoft products that Sharepoint seems to be the logical choice
  • a proper vendor evaluation never takes place and instead the company goes with the apparently easiest and lowest cost alternative
  • enterprise security from a reliable vendor
  • companies know that Microsoft isn’t going anywhere whereas some of the other collaboration vendors in the space might not be around the long
  • it was one of the earlier collaboration platforms available (initial release was actually in 2001)
  • they focus on what Microsoft says it can do and is good vs what it can really do and is good at (marketing vs reality)

I’m not going to go into detail about the platform itself and why so many people are upset with it.  You can do a simple Google search for “I hate Sharepoint” or “Sharepoint sucks” to find more than your fare share of articles, blog posts, and videos about why people are unhappy with the product.

Companies that deploy Sharepoint (or any other collaboration platform) and then realize it’s not the right fit end up in a bit of a pickle.  It’s very tedious and expensive to switch collaboration vendors especially if you’re a large company.  Some companies such as TELUS use certain features of Sharepoint integrated into a broader collaboration platform toolset but many other companies out there simply feel stuck and lost.

The reality is that Sharepoint is getting such a bad rap because many of the companies using the platform shouldn’t be using it, Sharepoint is not the right fit for many companies that continue to deploy it. This is why companies such as Newsgator were created, to help improve the usability and functionality of Sharepoint.  This is also why so many vendors out there continue to integrate their solutions with Sharepoint.  Some vendors try to replace Sharepoint but many acknowledge that it’s not going anywhere since it is so deeply rooted within many companies.

It’s unfair to criticize Sharepoint by saying “it sucks” because it certainly has its uses within organizations but that doesn’t mean it should be used in EVERY organization.  Sharepoint 2010 has definitely seen some improvements and I believe that Microsoft will continue to make enhancements to the platform (or they will buy Newsgator).  Honestly companies that deploy Sharepoint only to see negative feedback about the platform really don’t have anyone to blame but themselves, harsh but true.

Moral of the story is that organizations need to do more when it comes to making sure that they are deploying the right tool for their employees.  Sharepoint isn’t necessarily a bad platform but it is certainly not THE collaboration solution.  Make sure to do your homework before deploying tools.

  • I believe in remaining agnostic.

    SP can play a part, but there are other tools that can assist niche components or requirements too.

    That is, I don’t think a single platform is necessarily the only way to go.

    Jive, Connections, SP, Confluence, etc. … they all have pro’s and con’s. Take them all together, and wow … what a cool mash-up. 😉

    And yes, I know … there is a cost with multiple platforms, technologies and tools. I get it.

    My advice, however, is if you’re in a situation where you have to pick a platform due to budget reasons, be prepared to be disappointed whether it’s SP or otherwise. You have to be somewhat pragmatic about it and just do the best you can with what you’ve got … whether IT has handed it to you or you’re part of the selection process.

    It’s a lot better than having an ERP only / one-way Intranet solution isn’t it?

    • Hi Dan,

      Sorry for getting to this so late.  I actually think the you way you and TELUS are using SP is one of the best examples of how and what an integrated toolset can look like.  I mention it constantly to people!

      Definitely agree with you that organizations shouldn’t be limited by a single platform when they can exactly as you have done, take the pros from the platforms they like and mash them together.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • SharePoint is fine.  Many of the detractors end up there because on whatever project or business artifact they use it for they poorly designed the folder structure and didn’t carefully consider navigation.

    For some of those who complain about the lack of certain advanced features, they don’t realize as you add those features you increase complexity.  As a result, you satisfy 1 person and upset 3 others. 

    Finally, from what I have seen, few SharePoint consultants and fewer companies have much of an idea on how to use some of the built in functionality now to make it very useful.

    We would still hear the same complaints if another vendor’s product had this level of market penetration.  Show me any corporate technology tool that does not have significant detractors.

    Look, Apple’s iPhone, arguably a completely disruptive innovation in the cell phone space has tons of people who hate it!  Google: iphone sucks -“T-Mobile”

    The T-Moble part there is because a bunch of the material was about iPhone sucking T-Mobile customers away.

    SharePoint works great when it is used correctly and with the right expectations.

    Bill Wood – President
    R3Now Consulting  (and NO we don’t do SharePoint or Microsoft consulting work 🙂

    • Hi Bill,

      Thanks for the comment.  Expectations, especially around enterprise collaboration are crucial.  Many companies though simply go with the easiest and cheapest solution and then try to force it to work, then when it doesn’t they say, “we tried enterprise collaboration and it was horrible!”
      As Dan mentioned below, every platform has its pros and cons.

  • Scott Bittinger

    SharePoint is a fantastic collaborative platform out of the box. Yes there is a huge ecosystem out there available to enhance it as well. If architected, governed, and deployed properly, as well as detailing the how to’s to the user community, most of those negatives will go away. You have to continue to push adoption. Just throwing it out there is why it gets a bad rap IMO.

    • Hi Scott,

      Some people hate it others love it but that’s the point, SP, like any other platform has its place within the enterprise but organizations need to do their homework to figure out which tools are the best fit.  

      Adoption is another issue that many organizations seem to forget, oftentimes because they are sold solutions which are pitched as “so intuitive that your whole company will start using it right away.”  However, adoption needs to be addressed not just from the technology side of “how to” use the tools but also from the business side of “why should I use them and what’s the value to me?”

      Thanks for the comment.


  • mmmh……social business compared from the user’s/workers view:

  • Personally from what I have seen as “SharePoint adoption” is that the IS department is filling in a checkbox that was handed down because some manager somewhere along the way thinks they need sharepoint because they had it at the last company they worked with and hey, nobody gets fired for suggesting Microsoft, right?

    The reality of SharePoint in most organizations is that it is a shift to a different platform, I generatlly describe SP as a web OS to clients – it has the basics of an operating system but needs additional tools to be useful in the workplace. This is on par with giving a bunch Windows users a Mac and expecting them to be up to speed on day 1. There is a learning curve and it will be expensive to retrain the workforce to use this new tool. In addition to the basic features, you’ll often need to purchase some additional tools in order to make it more than just an OS. Imaging trying to do desktop publishing with notepad – not easily achieved.

    With SharePoint implementations, installing the platform is just the first step to deploying it, you need training and a couple of killer apps for the business that drives traffic to the site and gets employees to utilize the platform. You need information architecture and governance to make sure that your data doesn’t get lost and that you can derive useful information from it in the future. You need subject matter experts and evangalists that can connect with the business and determine where and how SharePoint can make thier jobs easier to perform.

    SharePoint fails when it is installed, the project is closed, and your IT assets move on to the next project. There is a certain art to the care and feeding of your SharePoint farm, and without the proper maintenance it will quickly die on the vine.

    And of course, I have seen the horrors of .NET developers who call themselves SharePoint developers (because hey, it’s just a .NET platform right?) and end up delivering horribly architected/designed applications that work in SP 2007 or SP2010 but are a nightmare to upgrade due to all sorts of issues with code and standards… I think I even have a few rants on that one:

  • Hill

    SharePoint is straight ass on a stick.