Why do you use SharePoint? Why do you try to promote SharePoint within your organization? Of all the very good reasons – compliance, being able to find content, supporting collaboration, communication, to save money, to improve business processes, etc. – one that is rarely mentioned is that which is expressed in the title. Microsoft doesn’t say “use SharePoint because stuff happens!” No, they say “SharePoint, the new way to work together.” I don’t think SharePoint is a “new” way to work together. It might be a faster way to work together, it might even be a better way to work together, but collaboration, communication and sharing information are not new concepts and they weren’t invented by Microsoft. In addition, SharePoint isn’t a “way of working” as much as it is a means of supporting the way you work. You build your solution on top of SharePoint. OK, I’m 144 words into this post and I’m already off-track or on-track to a different post. Let’s get back to the stuff.
During the past month, several things happened in our little enterprise that people don’t consider when planning or marketing a SharePoint installation.
First, earlier this week a coworker was complaining that he could not get the information he needed to prepare his 2014 budget. The information he needed is reported, but not shared. In other words, my coworker could see the information, but he could not manipulate the information. He couldn’t sort, filter and query the information. The sorting, filtering and querying is done by someone else (someone with access to a proprietary system) who happened to be out of the office. Details, deadlines, travel, meetings and personal obligations all aligned to put one person in need of information that only one other person could provide and that second person was not available. We’ve never seen the need to put this information in SharePoint, or anywhere for that matter. We don’t work together on this information; we don’t collaborate in the production of this information. We send this information around, but we don’t “communicate” over this information. On the other hand, we need this information when we need it.
Second, earlier this month we stumbled onto a cache of documents and email left behind by a recently retired employee. Some of this content has value to our organization, some doesn’t but the person who could most easily separate the wheat from the chaff, has left the building – literally. The result is a series of imperfect solutions:
Force someone to crawl through the pile
Save everything now and sort it out “later”
Recognize that all but one of us has never seen this stuff and assume we will never need to see it in the future, or
Assume that anything in that pile that is important probably was also given to others when it was given to this guy
Those two are examples of what happens when people don’t accept that stuff happens and will happen in the future. Fortunately, that view toward stuff might be shifting toward a state where it is the exception rather than the rule.
About two weeks ago, I had a discussion with someone who was complaining about A) Having to include managed metadata columns in his custom list, and B) The fact that selecting one managed metadata column by an alias can’t automatically trigger the selection of two additional managed metadata columns that respond to the same alias. (If anyone knows how to make that work, please add a comment). When I pointed out how the managed metadata terms allowed us to link this list to several other lists – easily and accurately – he shrugged. When I showed him a web part page where we bring that information together, he became convinced of the value.
I’ve saved the best recent experience for last. I wasn’t present, but one of our underwriters was overheard asking for access to a report. The person he asked offered to print him a copy. The underwriter said:
“I don’t want a copy, I don’t want an email with an attachment. I want to know where I can go to get this report and others like it, when I need them.”
He knows that if that person is out, there will be no copy, there will be no email – I love this guy! He understands that stuff happens.