SharePoint software has exploded over the last couple of years, becoming a billion-dollar business unit within Microsoft. Clearly, software that can be used for document management, collaboration, creating interactive portals and websites, and much more, has value. Yet, in numerous discussions with SharePoint adopters, nagging issues persist. I’ll list the five most pressing issues facing SharePoint users today:

1) We have SharePoint… now what? At conferences and user-group meetings, I hear repeatedly that workers are being tasked with implementing SharePoint without a real clear picture of what the business hopes to accomplish with it. These workers tell me often that their company has no real plan for governance, permissions, authentication, workflows and more, because they are not clear with why they are using SharePoint in the first place. Proper planning before setting up a SharePoint environment is critical for success, but it seems to be a step most often skipped.

2) To customize or not? Developing applications in SharePoint can be challenging. Developers must be skilled in UI, scripting and markup languages, Visual Studio and many of the .NET technologies. So before deciding to go beyond what SharePoint offers out of the box, it’s important to understand why you are customizing, and to make sure you have the right skill sets on staff before undertaking the work.

3) Don’t we already have this? SharePoint is a great solution for document management, with improving social features for finding an expert in a particular subject and communicating with that person via e-mail, instant messages or notes appended to a document. Many organizations, though, already have a document management solution, and its workers already use social applications such as LinkedIn or Twitter. If they haven’t already, organizations need to create policies for short-term and long-term document storage, as well as for using social tools.

4) Let’s take it outside: As Microsoft continues to tout the benefits of software-as-a-service, hosted SharePoint becomes a serious consideration. While organizations have been loathe to put their “crown jewels” into the ether due to fears of security breaches, it’s something for small- and medium-sized businesses to consider: all the benefits of SharePoint without the need to add to their data-center and administrative costs.

5) Build it and they will come…? This isn’t necessarily so. I’ve heard from too many people that their companies have thrown SharePoint at them and said, “Use it.” To successfully deploy SharePoint, users must be trained on the features and capabilities, or else they won’t use it. It’s just too complex to leave it to folks—who have real jobs to do—to “play around with it” until they’re competent. Organizations must create classes, and even build their own SharePoint communities, to ensure the best use of the software.

What pressing issues do you still face with SharePoint? Let us hear about it, and we’ll get our experts to weigh in with ways to overcome your problems. Write me at

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