The Business Value of Platforms

To create business value using a platform such as SharePoint requires knowing when to apply it and when not to. Content management platforms can do many things but that doesn’t mean they do everything well

Throughout this year, we have delivered presentations about how to create business value from SharePoint by aligning its use within a larger digital strategy. Few organisations choose to invest in SharePoint as their sole technology platform for all activities involving content and communications. And SharePoint is a big old beast to get up and running. It takes a strategy and some difficult decisions if you want to deliver value for what is a significant investment.

Here’s the latest version of the slides, delivered at the SharePoint Evolves event during October that was organised by AvePoint and Combined Knowledge. The slides also formed part of a private tutorial on Strategic SharePoint delivered at the recent J.Boye conference in Aarhus

A short summary of the talk:

  • All projects fall into two categories. You are either introducing a new capability, or you are scaling an existing solution up/out
  • Introducing new capabilities benefits from a bottom-up approach. Think big, act small, learn as you go. If successful, then comes the need for some top-down priorities to ensure the solution fits with business objectives and directions.
  • Growing out solutions is fertile ground for enterprise platforms. And once in place, platforms enable a tactical approach to ongoing problem solving and new capabilities on a more incremental scale.
  • SharePoint is at its strongest when scaling out solutions and providing tactical advantages – leverage the platform for unexpected and unplanned needs. It is weak if you are at the visionary stage. A true vision means heading into the unknown. Niche applications are usually far more suitable than any enterprise platform. They may only be temporary and later be replaced or merged into a platform, but nimbleness is required.
  • Regardless of technology-specifics, IT is most successful when being adopted bottom-up, either tactically (technology as the enabler for change) or visionary (technology as the driver for change). Strategic projects get tangled up in office politics and face the most resistance to change. Those top-down priorities are necessary but inevitably create winners and losers. And when things go wrong, it will always be the technology to blame. The challenge for SharePoint, and this applies to any platform, is that it enters the workplace as a strategic project first, and then becomes tactical once in-place. That makes for a bumpy landing…

More notes are included in the slides embedded above. To close out with one piece of advice – be prepared to make difficult decisions. Failing to do so is what creates toxic projects and budget over-runs. SharePoint done well can create great solutions. But it can be a disaster without the right support mechanisms in place.