Although it’s already 17 years since the release of SharePoint, many organizations still have difficulties when implementing SharePoint-based on-premises and cloud solutions. According to a recent AIIM report, 40% of organizations consider their SharePoint implementations to be unsuccessful. However, factors compromising SharePoint implementation usually have nothing to do with the platform itself. The reasons for SharePoint implementation failure are more about people and business processes.
In our article, we’ll analyze the main obstacles to successful SharePoint implementation.
Why SharePoint Implementation Fails
Below are the top 7 reasons why SharePoint implementation fails.
The lack of problem definition
Very often customers opt for SharePoint after hearing a lot about its capabilities to solve various types of problems related to team and company-wide collaboration, project management, etc. However, they are baffled when asked what specific problem they want to solve with the help of SharePoint. Implementing SharePoint without a problem definition is not the best way to go as a resulting solution may end up being overwhelmed by useless features. For example, a small firm where employees have to combine several roles and are always overloaded with daily work will obviously not need a blog feature in an intranet as there will be no one to use it.
Inefficient business processes
SharePoint can streamline business processes. But if a process itself is not efficient, SharePoint implementation can’t bring any value to an organization. For example, SharePoint workflow automation can speed up a contract’s approval process. However, if a contract draft should go to a legal advisor and then to CFO according to the business process, and there is no policy about escalating a contract in case a legal advisor is unavailable (out of the office, on vacation, etc.), the document’s life cycle will be stuck. Thus, SharePoint just speeds up a bad process but can’t fix it.
Ignored or misused SharePoint capabilities
If companies neglect consulting services before SharePoint implementation, they are likely not to have a full picture of the platform’s capabilities. So, businesses can often ignore or use incorrectly customizable features of SharePoint, which also can lead to the failure of SharePoint implementation.
Example #1 (misuse). A company uses SharePoint only as a file share, which is not a good idea. There are simpler solutions like DropBox for this purpose, and there’s no need in deploying such a multifunctional platform for it. Moreover, there is a number of limitations to employing the platform as a file share.
Example #2 (neglect). A company has problems with matching their complex business processes with SharePoint workflows. Custom workflow features of SharePoint can help to solve most of these problems. However, the lack of detailed knowledge about this option prevents the company from the full deployment of SharePoint.
Example #3 (overuse). A company opts for deep platform customizations from the very start even if basic SharePoint functionality is enough to meet its business needs. It wants third-party themes and such branding features as slideshows and menu hovering effects. Such customization is not only expensive but can cause technical problems. For example, since the company doesn’t have control over SharePoint Online updates, each release of a new feature can bring about compatibility issues to the branded SharePoint solution.
The lack of skilled IT specialists
SharePoint implementation and consequent maintenance and support require a professional IT team with a wide range of skills on SharePoint infrastructure, database administration, data storage, security, software development, etc. Many companies lack a skilled in-house support team that can ensure high performance of the SharePoint environment and effectively tackles issues like system failure and extensive downtime. According to the AIIM report, more than 20% of organizations have never asked for external advice or training for their SharePoint implementation. All this can negatively affect user confidence in the system and reduce adoption rates.
The lack of proper governance
Without proper governance plan and policies, the use of a SharePoint solution can quickly become chaotic and lead to users’ confusion and lack of productivity. For example, if a governance plan allows any user to create and delete sites, uncontrollable site creation will make it difficult for people to find information. Also, sites and documents can be duplicated, and important information can be lost if somebody deletes SharePoint sites or pages. In such a situation, it would be difficult to say even what versions of documents are relevant.
User resistance & the lack of a change management strategy
As the AIIM report says, in 25% of all instances, SharePoint implementation fails because of user resistance. Employees don’t want to change existing working processes and adapt to new technology. Such user resistance is usually caused by the lack of knowledge about how SharePoint can facilitate work for each particular employee and increase their productivity.
Also, ineffective change management tactics can cause SharePoint implementation failure in case it doesn’t include users into a SharePoint implementation project from the beginning. As a result, the typical ‘fear response’ to the new technology may evoke in users. What’s more, some companies don’t have a change management strategy and assume that everything would be easily transitioned once the implementation is completed, which is hardly ever the case.
It is extremely hard to forecast spending on SharePoint implementation as quite often, basic deployment of SharePoint is not sufficient, and integrations are required to fill in the gaps in SharePoint functionality. And even the configuration of out-of-the-box features can be underestimated. Not to mention hidden costs SharePoint implementation projects entail. To straightforward license costs, companies should add expenses on security tools, hardware and infrastructure, maintenance and support, third-party integration, and user training. Forgetting about it, companies often underestimate the cost of a SharePoint project, which may cause implementation failure. For example, maintenance costs are often underestimated, and they can be two or three times more than the initial license price when various SharePoint add-ons like workflow designers.
How to start?
Implementation of a SharePoint project is associated with a number of risks. To minimize them and enable successful SharePoint implementation, companies shouldn’t underestimate the consulting stage of a project. At this stage, SharePoint consultants can help companies to elaborate a clear view of the platform’s capabilities, why and how to use it to streamline users’ work, which will create a solid basis for effective implementation.
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After working for more than 15 years in Microsoft technologies like SharePoint, Office 365, and Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI), I thought will share my SharePoint expertise knowledge with the world. Out audiences are from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, etc. For my expertise knowledge and SharePoint tutorials, Microsoft has been awarded a SharePoint MVP(8 times), check out My MVP Profile. I have also worked in companies like HP, TCS, KPIT, etc.