Why Sharepoint Installations Tend to Suck

By Deane Barker on August 6, 2011

The Root of All Evil: SharePoint Information Architecture and Happy End Users: This article on information architecture and Sharepoint absolutely nails the most common problems with the platform:

Struggle to create, enforce, maintain basic governance — once the SharePoint genie is out of the bottle, it takes on a life of its own; and folks like IT, legal, records management, corporate communications and HR have their work cut out for them trying to manage end-user behavior.

Difficulty realizing the full benefits of using SharePoint […] At most of my clients, SharePoint’s main use case is basic share drive replacement…and in most cases it provides little added benefits over those share drives.

Conflicts with other enterprise applications […] it tries to deliver “good enough” functionality across lots of enterprise content management (ECM) areas, e.g., workflow and collaboration, document management, portal/web content management and records management. But most organizations already have other systems doing some (or all) of these, so figuring out which system should do what is a real challenge.

I have yet to find anyone who loves their Sharepoint install.  I talk to a lot of companies about their intranets, and I’m especially interested in hearing about their Sharepoint experiences.  When I ask about them, I get things like.

  • “It’s…okay.”
  • “We kind of got it work.”
  • “It’s working pretty good now, but it took forever to get to this point.”
  • “I don’t really know how to use it.  I have this one document library I put things in – other than that, I have no idea what people are doing with it.”

I have yet to find an organization that unashamedly loves their Sharepoint.install.  For most organizations I talk to, Sharepoint was the default choice, it was pushed on users by IT, and is massive overkill for what it’s being used for, due to limited needs, or due to the fact that no one really knows how to use it, so no one even scratches the surface of it.

(Actually, I’m being kind.  I usually hear some variation of: “Everyone hates it.”)

Don’t get me wrong – I think Sharepoint is technically sound.  But I don’t think users get adequately trained and I don’t think a lot of Sharepoint projects have enough backing at the C-level.


A Sharepoint implementation is fundamentally a human-engineering project.  The technology will take care of itself.  More important: how are you going to manage your users, and them on-board with it?

(This book from Michael Sampson is probably a good start.)

What This Links To


  1. We love our SharePoint install, but it’s very simple. We use it as an extension of our nextwork drive that allows versioning, consistent templates and an easy way to organize files. It is also a great extension to the Team System development environment which we also use to store documents. I’ve heard nightmares about trying to use SharePoint as a web content management system, but works well for document management in our experience.

  2. This article could have been titled “Why Product X Installations Tend to Suck”. None of the issues raised or the complaints levied are unique to SharePoint installations. Typical challenges and politics. From the title I was hoping to find some SharePoint specific insight.

  3. I’ve never heard of anyone who is happy using Sharepoint as anything other than a giant filing cabinet. Michael hits the nail on the head. “We use it as an extension of our nextwork drive that allows versioning, consistent templates and an easy way to organize files.” It’s hideously expensive for what people do with it and ridiculously complex for what is really a simple file and versioning tool.

    Aside – Your comment edit box is wider than your content column. Very annoying.

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