How many times have you wanted to throw your computer out of the window? How many times have you stared blankly at your screen and thought “Where are my files?? Or, “This isn’t the right version of my document??!?” …or worse….

“I absolutely hate SharePoint it’s awful, why the hell do we even have this rubbish??!!”

Sound familiar? Then please read on – this has been written for the Haters of SharePoint!

Before the mud flinging starts we should make something clear – although we are SharePoint Consultants (and pretty brilliant ones at that), we haven’t drunk the Microsoft Kool-Aid. This is a point of pride for us – we know where SharePoint fits, and as just as important, we know where it doesn’t!

In our many, many years of helping clients with their existing SharePoint environments, we have seen some, frankly, appalling solutions ‘built’ on SharePoint. In these cases, we’re there to act as a sort of ‘SharePoint Hospital’ – a last chance saloon for the client’s system before a) a blood vessel bursts in someone’s head, or b) they dump the system and adopt something else.

In every single case we’ve been able to turn the situation around and go beyond expectations. Let’s see if the following Hater arguments resonate with you and your experience!

(We’ve kindly added our own take on these situations – posing some ‘sensitive’ questions as to how you could possibly resolve the problem!) You can read more in our guide here.

I can’t find anything on (insert expletive here) SharePoint!

What we’d say:

That’s an unfortunate situation – SharePoint has a rich search functionality. Coupled with next level metadata, taxonomy and logical library storage, you really shouldn’t be in a position where you can’t find the info/docs/content you need.

What we’d ask next:

What type of governance sits behind permissions, security, role-based access? Is Metadata being applied…and applied correctly? How are you adding content/data to SharePoint?

Do you have unique permissions set at file or folder level? Are you applying filters to your view? Check your views to make sure documents are not being filtered out via any of the columns/metadata fields.

‘Lost’ information is a giant headache. Organisations lose millions of man hours on this problem. SharePoint really shouldn’t be the platform where this is a headache (but we have seen the evidence). The solution to this is structure – Information Architecture.

It looks naff and confusing – no-one wants to use it

What we’d say:

That’s a shame, and a real missed opportunity. SharePoint in its current form is very configurable and easy to brand. Even if you have an older version of the platform, you can still apply a high level of branding and structure to it. If no-one wants to use it – that’s also very fixable – through various user adoption techniques

What we’d ask next:

Take a step back and ask a fundamental question – what do you want SharePoint to do?

Let’s split this argument up – “it looks naff and confusing”. From our point of view this is an opportunity for a ‘re branding’ – the look of SharePoint is easy to change – the latest version gives many options for styling, and more, while still retaining the familiar Office features and feel. If it’s seen as confusing then it’s one of three issues: 1) the design isn’t working, 2) the information architecture needs addressing, or 3) there’s a training need being highlighted.

Again, it’s important to know what you what SharePoint to do. Part two of this argument: “no-one wants to use it” …this can’t be fixed overnight. Really the use of the platform is inherent in clever design, structure and ease of use – all considered in the planning stage.

User adoption is a real issue in many organisations. When we’re asked to support a project, we involve as many stakeholders as is feasible – ensuring people have their say on the look and feel. We also push a strict ‘user adoption programme’ – which is basically training and empowering ‘super users’ in and around the organisation (product owners and champions of the solution, if you will).

It’s expensive

What we’d say:

SharePoint, or any large business-orientated platform can seem like it has an inflated cost associated with it – and it’s a shame when we see a company that’s unhappy with what could be an extremely operational-efficiency driving system. Especially given the types of pricing structures based around cloud-accessible systems.

What we’d ask next:

What is it you want SharePoint to do exactly? It’s easy to get carried away with so many unique features and add-ons, when actually your requirements aren’t as extensive in reality.

SharePoint can definitely come across as more expensive than it should when it’s not being used properly. After all, you’ve spent money implementing a new platform and you’re not getting anything back – that really puts salt in the wound. However, it’s very possible to turn this around and encourage a SharePoint ‘revamp’ in your business. This includes branding, user training, support and more.

Who is using SharePoint? Have you defined ‘Roles’ for users? Who needs what permissions? This is initially about governance (the rules you set around your information) and then our next question is about how you structure your data – so metadata, site collections, etc.

Whether SharePoint was implemented in-house or by a third party, it’s important to know if anything has been customised, developed or remaining as an out of the box feature. Because SharePoint can be set-up ‘vanilla-style’ (i.e., with little configuration), it’s tempting to set it up quickly without going through the business problems you wanted to address in the first place. During development and implementation, issues can snowball and before you know it you’ve ended up with a completely different ‘solution’ to what you envisioned when you signed off the budget for the project.

Stick to your guns when it comes to implementing and always make sure that the problems that are costing you the most money and have the most risk are being addressed first. Good governance, good information architecture, clever design, good user adoption and training will certainly avoid common headaches like “I can’t find anything!”.

SharePoint is too complicated

What we’d say:

That’s a common misunderstanding. SharePoint is functionally diverse, but don’t confuse that with it being complicated. It can be applied in simple ways or apply to complex scenarios. Depending on how it was implemented, the lack of planning may be the reason why it doesn’t do what you want it to. There are some ‘out of the box’ solutions with SharePoint, but it’s a collection of individual solutions and tools that need to be set up correctly.

What we’d ask next:

We would highly recommend training workshops for your organisation. Microsoft Gold Partners such as us deliver these workshops often, and they can really benefit users who feel lost with the platform. SharePoint can be easy to use when users are correctly informed. We also want to reiterate the point that SharePoint should only be doing what you need it to do; if you have unnecessary features and add-ons, this will only be over-complicating your experience of the platform.

It’s not secure enough

What we’d say:

This is an understandable problem; and can have significant consequences if it’s not addressed and resolved. SharePoint has many features that can make your information secure – these features can also be changed as and when you please. They can even be automated.

What we’d ask next:

What version of SharePoint are you on? 2010, 2013, 2016, online? If you’re on premises with your SP environment, then your security set-up is only as resilient as the infrastructure it resides within. Coupled with the security layers you have implemented it will leave you either vulnerable or safe. If you are using Office 365 then you have a very secure security model around your platform. Any vulnerabilities will be down to roles, permissions and accessibility (all of which need to be addressed by proper IT governance).

If you’re concerned about your environment’s security then remember, you have control! Tips we’d suggest are:

  • Have rules around access
  • Ensure security roles are defined
  • Use the right level of permissions
  • Use the ‘share’ function in SP with caution
  • Ensure you have an admin at Site level
  • If you have users using their own devices to access SP then enforce a ‘lock device’ policy

We don’t want our data to reside in the cloud

What we’d say:

This sounds familiar! And so common as all organisations process sensitive data and the duty of care surrounding that data is immense. We have helped many clients on their journey to the cloud and we know how difficult it is educating business heads on the safety of information held in the cloud. SharePoint Online (i.e., part of Office 365) can open up a great many advantages.

What we’d ask:

Did you know you could have both? If moving to the cloud seems too much of a change for your company, you can always opt for a hybrid method. This means you can retain parts of SharePoint on-premises and move other parts to the cloud. This is especially useful if you want to take more control of where your sensitive information is stored.

We see SharePoint as a toolkit that can empower organisations to drive efficiency and improve collaboration. When we hear that people “hate” SharePoint, we think it’s not the platform they hate, but more likely the constraints that have been built in through poor planning, no planning and no governance. We see “haters” as an opportunity to educate and showcase what SharePoint can really do, especially the latest version and coupled with other functionally rich apps from Office 365.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits SharePoint can offer you, we can point you in the right direction. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. You can also read more in our new guide: ‘A Hater’s Guide to SharePoint’ here.