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Barriers to SharePoint Adoption

In my short time as a SharePoint consultant I’ve come across three major barriers to implementing the solution. Mind you, this isn’t only relegated SharePoint but any tool, system, or process implemented in the enterprise. While each of them could vary in degree they all exist in some form of a SharePoint implementation.

Political Barriers

Politics are often the first road block encountered when bringing a tool like SharePoint into the enterprise. Someone becomes sold on the platform usually in IT but sold to executives shortly afterward, and then the backlash begins. The first to bring argument against the technology are those who monitor and/or administer legacy systems. The BroadVision/Notes/etc team are not keen on having “their” application moved into a new platform and potentially turned off. SharePoint becomes the hardest to sell to these individuals. Instead of jumping on the new technology train they fear the loss of their job and will fight it to the end.

Cultural Barriers

Usually an enterprise class technology will make it pass the political barriers, because some executive (should have) been sold on it and pushes it through. The next group of people who become change averse are the end user or information worker as Microsoft calls them. These are the people that are being told that the file share is not the way to store and collaborate anymore. Often times frustration ensues, and many people don’t care to see how much better SharePoint can potentially do their processes and fight it.

This is a stage where “quick wins” are important. During this phase the SharePoint implementation team take an existing process that was cumbersome and error prone and do something like automate it with workflow. They could also make the Sarbanes-Oxley compliance team by showing auditing. Here you try and bite off a little bit, show improvement, and these people who benefit become evangelists for the product. The most effective sales person inside of a company is another co-worker.

Technological Barriers

The technology itself can become a barrier if it is not planned wisely. Let’s say you being to roll out the technology, and it’s painfully slow because you have SQL issues. The resulting effect could turn many potential users into quick haters. They then respond that “it’s too slow to use” and it becomes a hard stigma to overcome. It is important that the technological implementation is thoroughly assessed and implemented before training and implementation begins, because when the implementation starts it’s very important to set a precedent of reliability.

There is another technological barrier that is actually more cultural but very related. There will be people who instantly grab onto the technology and want it to do everything for them. These projects often can creep into an implementation and push a project off its timeline and sideline its overall implementation and adoption. It’s very important to have a project plan that is detailed in scope and people involved that want to see it saw through. Getting other ideas to use SharePoint is great, but not when it slows down an entire project.

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