Friday, 2 July 2010

World Cup 4 - Why Can SharePoint Fail?

Apparently the World Cup 2010 did not end last Sunday at a quarter to five so I writing my 4th SharePoint World Cup blog about ‘Why SharePoint Projects Fail?’

As I walked to Church last Sunday morning every other house seemed to be displaying an England flag and you could feel the belief that this was finally going to be the year of England World cup glory. I genuinely believed that we could beat Germany, Argentina, Spain and then Brazil to bring back those glory days of 1966. Five hours later my dreams like all the England flags had disappeared after we had been humiliated by Germany.

So this week the inquest into why England keeps performing poorly at World Cups has started. Front pages of newspapers, radio shows, Alan Hansen even the House of Commons all want to find somebody to blame. The finger of blame has so far been pointed at the players, the manager, the Football Association, the media, the Uruguayan officials, the Premier League and even James Corden. So who is to blame or are England really just not good enough?

Office Talk is often contacted by companies who are disappointed by the way their SharePoint is going. They sometimes feel it is failing because employees just aren’t using it or it just isn’t doing all the great things they hoped it would. So why do some SharePoint Projects Fail?

It is widely accepted that the English Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world yet the national team continually fails to deliver. Microsoft SharePoint (especially the new 2010 version) is one of the best Information Management Systems in the world yet again it can fail to live up to its hype.

I think enough people are discussing England’s reasons for failure so I am going to list some of the reasons that I think can cause SharePoint Projects to fail;

1. Expectations Not Reached

It is important that you set realistic expectation levels. Yes, SharePoint can do many impressive things but the SharePoint Project Team needs to agree an initial scope for the Project and let the users know exactly what is going to be delivered. SharePoint can integrate with many ERP systems and offer many cost saving benefits, but all these take time and effort so may not be part of the first phase of the project.

2. Not Enough Testing

A Pilot Group is vital in any project. It gives that chance to iron out any little problems and to see where users might struggle. It is interesting that Germany played with the World Cup ball for six months in the Bundisliga but the Premier League didn’t because of a sponsorship deal. Never be tempted to skip the testing phase.

3. Lack of or wrong SharePoint Consultant

It is an interesting fact that no country has ever won the World Cup with a foreign coach. Both Argentina and Brazil are doing well this year being led by managers who have played for them at World Cup Finals. With SharePoint it seems knowledge is so important to helping a project work. A SharePoint Consultant knows from experience how to make SharePoint successful so are vital to the project. Also consider a SharePoint Consultancy company that are fairly local and that you know talk the type of language that your Project Team understands.

4. Wrong Members of Project Team

Did Mr. Capello choose the right players? Putting together the SharePoint Project team is a very important part of the project. It is important to get the balance right and represent all areas of the organisation who will be using SharePoint. It is important to choose people who will give an input without being too dominating. All of Project Team needs to feel they have an equal part to play in helping develop the best SharePoint system for the company.

5. Poor Security

Data and Identity Security is so important these days with so many horror stories in the media. Every week there seems to be stories about how a long list of private information was left on a train or in a pub. SharePoint has many high level security settings included and it is important that all users know that the system is secure.

6. Security Too Tight

Security is vital, but if nobody can get to the data what is the point of it being on SharePoint. The key part of the name SharePoint is ‘Share’. Although, the information is totally secure to people outside the organisation don’t be scared to let other departments share certain parts of it. If you tie it down too much then users won’t get the full benefits.

7. Lack of Quick Wins

One of the best ways to sell SharePoint to employees is with ‘Quick Wins’. If there are things on there that will instantly make a routine task they do faster they will quickly starting using it. Included sections like IT Helpdesk, Holiday Requests, Travel Requests or Visitor Booking can earn a few points and get people to start using the system. Perhaps if England had beaten USA in first game things might have been very different.

8. Too Complex

If the SharePoint system is too difficult to navigate then users won’t use it. Keep it simple and where ever possible standardise so employees can easily know where to find information. Always take a step back and look at a site and see if it is obvious where you want a user to be clicking.

9. Lack of Training

Even though SharePoint should be simple to use all End Users will benefit from receiving a short Training session on how to use the system. Office Talk offer On-Site ninety minute End User training sessions to introduce the users to the new system. The Project Team should also receive SharePoint Administration Training (1 day) so they can understand the kind of things SharePoint can do before they start designing the system.

10. Not Flexible Enough

One of the great features of SharePoint is that it is very customisable. Some companies make the mistake of tying it down too much and leaving it very much under the control of IT. The more departments and individuals are able to customise it to meet their individual needs the more they will use it. Don’t be afraid to let them create sub-sites if they wish to. A lot of former footballers believed that the England formation of 4-4-2 was not flexible enough and restrictive.

11. No Leaders

SharePoint needs developing after it has been rolled out. A successful approach is to use the Project Team as Super Users who can assist members in their department to use SharePoint. Office Talk always advises customers to have review sessions to see exactly how SharePoint is being used and how it could be further enhance the organisation.

12. Information Not Good Enough

Are England players basically good enough? The most important part of SharePoint is the information it stores. If the information isn’t accurate or complete then the system will fail. With any SharePoint project one of the most important steps is uploading the information. Make sure good housekeeping is done first. Don’t just upload all the files you have stored from the last ten years. Remove duplicates or expired data before uploading them. Are Gerrard, Lampard and Terry expired?

13. Poor Performance

SharePoint depends on good connections speeds so it requires a good network infrastructure first. If it takes a user several minutes every time they access a file they will soon get frustrated and start reverting to storing them on local PC instead. The hardware needs to be able to cope with SharePoint and allow for expansion.

14. Reliability

It the system keeps going down users will soon lose faith in it. After three world cup failures I have finally lost faith in the so called ‘Golden Age’ of England players. It is important to continually monitor the SharePoint Servers, to consider virus protection options and to make sure you implement a suitable SharePoint Backup solution.

So back to the World Cup then and despite me predicting with the accuracy of a Uruguayan linesman last week I am going to try to predict the results of the four quarter finals;

Brazil 1 Holland 2
Ghana 1 Uruguay 1
Argentina 3 Germany 1
Spain 1 Paraguay 0

Oh well at least the Premier League starts again in only six weeks. Up the Villa !!!


Rtr. Pankaj Bajpai said...

Hey Andy gr8 post... I can understand how the media ther would be takin Englands early exit... We experience the same here in India with cricket... You are spot on with the first two predictions... But i wish the Germans thrash the South Americans...

Chris Parr said...

WOW - in hindsight, great predictions!!