SharePoint Smackdown – Review of AIIM Minnesota Meeting

smackdown imageEarlier this month AIIM Minnesota had one of their Thirsty Thursday chapter meetings. These are a great approach to what used to be rather stodgy lecture style events. These get-togethers are much better with $.25 Beer and Wine helping to free the flow of dialogue. Getting a bunch of Information Management professionals together to talk shop, swap ideas and share experiences can be fun if done right, and AIIM Minnesota does it right. There were about 60 people there from all over the Twin Cities area to talk about the pros and cons of SharePoint. Fishbowl Solutions sponsored the event.

To spur the discussion AIIM’s “State of the Market” report on Microsoft SharePoint was the focus. The turnout was great and both ardent SharePoint users as well as strident SharePoint haters were present. As you might imagine, it did not take long for a passionate debate to erupt. The exchange was fascinating.

One company (commercial consumer goods) was firmly in the Pro SharePoint camp. They were seeing quite a bit of success with it. When pressed they outlined several factors that were key to their success. These factors were:
1. Small size company, small scale use: Department level use for file sharing only. Basically moving network file shares into SharePoint.
2. Locked down deployment: they detailed a multi-day mandatory training and approval and oversight process for anyone wanting a new SharePoint site. No sharing of information outside of your particular “collection”.
3. No compliance concerns: when asked about compliance (e.g. e-Discovery, what if you were sued, retention management) they were like a deer in the headlights saying that “each individual user is responsible for their own content”.

Another company (large national financial services organization) was firmly on the other side of the debate saying that Microsoft SharePoint was one of the biggest problems and liabilities they were currently facing. The factors they cited were:
1. Inability to effectively manage unstructured use and growth. Highly regulated documents were being copied and “lost” as the SharePoint virus spread. This introduced severe liability issues.
2. Lack of any way to systemize “best practices”, security or guidelines in SharePoint.
3. Easy to stand up means easy to walk away: this organization was in the process of migrating away from SharePoint due in no small part to the synchronization and information authority problems it introduced when they had it. It seemed that while a SharePoint site could be easily set up by a small project team, information was left orphaned in there at the project completion. This actually created a net knowledge drain in the organization because information was left locked in an unused system.

Other topics that came up included expertise location. One person was concerned in general about how he could handle the increased exposure as an expert that collaboration systems promised. His thought process was that, if more people know that he knows about a topic, he will have to deal with more distractions which would hurt his overall productivity. After some discussion everyone in the room agreed that capturing that knowledge was important to the business. It was also agreed that some mechanism should be present to allow the various experts to be notified about and then “opt in” to conversations going on that were related to their expertise area. It was pointed out that Oracle WebCenter and Beehive systems incorporate these capabilities while SharePoint does not (though there are plenty of consulting companies willing to create those kinds of customizations for a fee).

The final topic in the SharePoint smackdown was on general information architecture. This is where both the Pro and Con SharePoint camp seemed to agree. The architecture of SharePoint limits information-based collaboration while spurring people based collaboration. It is easy for a team to come together, share some documents within that team structure, achieve their project goal and then move on. It is not easy for the next teams to use the information that first team created. The room had a good laugh at the difficulty that SharePoint has in actually sharing.

AIIM Minnesota and Fishbowl Solutions put on a great event. The attendees left with a better understanding of the opportunities and problems with Microsoft SharePoint. It will be interesting to follow up with the people there to see where things stand in several months.

New Collaboration eBook Available – Free

Collaboration eBook from Fishbowl

I am very proud to announce that our first eBook is now available (link on right). The eBook is available in Kindle, Sony, iPhone/iPad/Blackberry reader formats as well as PDF. The book is free though we would love it if you took a moment to register with us if you like what you find.

The eBook is entitled Two Types of Collaboration and Ten Requirements for Using Them. In it we tackle the topic of collaboration from an information architecture perspective. We find that collaboration comes in two distinct types, social and informational. Social collaboration is people focused, goal oriented and intentional. Informational collaboration is knowledge focused, discovery oriented and accidental. Of the two, Accidental Collaboration is the more powerful and exciting. We discuss how to enable both Accidental and Intentional Collaboration with ten key considerations.

This is not a technical manual, though it does cover key concepts of information architecture and how to free up information from overly-restrictive systems. If you are a SharePoint aficionado, then chapter 10 will give you pause and should be carefully read.

This is an ideal volume for the CIO in your life and any project or program sponsor who is interested in tapping the power of information and collaboration but is constantly thwarted by technology that gets in the way.

Please let us know what you think of the work. All opinions are welcome!

Fishbowl Solutions Helps You Get Fit With Your Enterprise Information Management Strategy in 2010

On February 10, 2010 Fishbowl Solutions is hosting an Enterprise Information Management (EIM) Bootcamp in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Join author, E20 expert, and your drill sergeant, Billy Cripe, as he takes us through the evolution of Enterprise Information Management. Please register to:

  • Get Ripped as we address key information management considerations for 2010
  • Build organizational endurance as we outline must-have factors for EIM success
  • Become a Leader as you bring back a firm understanding of how to implement expert solutions

This free event will be held 8am-noon and we will even fuel you for the day with a complimentary breakfast.

You can also stick around for a special “Ask the Experts” session and pit your toughest questions against our strongest people.

Please visit the Fishbowl website to learn more, or contact Amanda to register now. We hope to see you there!