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SharePoint confidential: Why users say SharePoint sucks

Posted on 02 Jul, 2013 by in Collaboration & productivity, SharePoint | 7 comments

If you type “SharePoint sucks” into Google today, you’ll get 290,000 results, with sites listing reasons upon reasons why—one guy came up with 50 reasons. Sites with screenshots, videos, and even memes are sprinkled all over the Internet—all united in their frustration with Microsoft’s collaboration platform.

Reasons include everything from the frustrating interface to the lack of features to the absence of version control to the countless hours wasted digging around for files. In fact, plenty of users admit to secretly reverting back to email for file sharing and collaboration in general.

Giant enterprise companies and government agencies are paying massive amounts of money to deploy SharePoint in the hopes that their employees will actually use it. But the exact opposite seems to be true. And most IT departments, CIOs, and check-cutting executives have no idea what’s really going on—down on the ground level.

SharePoint Pain Points

So why are people saying things like SharePoint sucks? What is it that has people writing blogs, posting articles, and taking the time to create videos to take big punches at the product? We thought we’d do a one-on-one interview with a (former) SharePoint user to really drill down to the details.

We caught up with Katrin who, a few years back, was using SharePoint at one of the largest consulting companies in the world, which employs over 250,000 people and has clients in 120 countries, so it’s a pretty good place to start. Every department and everyone in the company was using SharePoint at the time, but Katrin remembers it like it was yesterday.

Q: To be fair, tell me, in your opinion, what were the good things about using SharePoint?

A: It was easy to find other co-worker’s contact info and job titles.

Q: Anything else?

A: No, that was it. SharePoint sucks.

Q: What department did you work in? And how was SharePoint being used?

A: I was part of a new marketing subdivision. The entire company was using SharePoint as an extranet.

Q: How did SharePoint work out for your department?

A: It was very clunky, meaning it was difficult to find relevant information, comments, and postings. So no one ended up using it. SharePoint was a complete waste of time. In fact, everyone on my team, quite honestly, just used email instead.

Q: So how did the entire company use SharePoint?

A: As an extranet. Hundreds of departments had their on “mini” extranet. Their problems were the same; no one could find anything, the search feature was pretty awful, and people were going back to using email. PowerPoint files still required email anyway. From the top management down, everyone was required to use SharePoint, but everyone found a workaround.

Q: When it came to sharing files—documents, images, videos, this sort of thing—with clients and outside agencies, how did that work?

A: It was done almost entirely through email. No version control, so it was hard to know if items had been approved and were actually ready to share with executives or clients. There were countless client gaffs—missing information and the wrong versions being sent. A few teams used Google Docs, but it’s very unsecure. And it’s not automated enough for everyone involved to know whether or not a document had been updated.

Q: Any outside clients use SharePoint?

A: Yes, their largest client uses SharePoint. But the VPN didn’t always work, so they didn’t always use SharePoint either.

Q: Did they use email instead?

A: Yes, all the time.

Q: Besides email, what did you and everyone you worked with do “behind the scenes” to get work done?

A: We used Dropbox instead. It didn’t require a VPN, but there are huge security issues. It was all very “hush, hush”. No one would talk about it, because we didn’t want to get in trouble.

What’s been your experience with SharePoint? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s ugly?

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7 Comments

  1. Sanjay Abraham

    July 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

    The biggest problem with Sharepoint is its huge infrastructure dependency. Anything less as prescribed would just not Work! Too many software, huge hardware, manpower to maintain and difficulty to make people use it…I would say it really hurts. Sucks badly…to be precise:)

  2. HXN

    July 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    When a product is billed as a collaboration tool that highly customizable and flexible… yet the SP professional community, who are “true believers,” are terrified and rage against anything but Out-Of-The-Box implementations, there’s something seriously wrong. Either the product is unstable and sucks when customized (and not so revertable) or the SharePoint community is lazy. Or both.

    You can’t get through a week working with a SP developer or admin and not hear about their dread towards diversion from out-of-the-box.

  3. jim b.

    October 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Sounds like they did not go though a proper planning user adoption & training process. We showed what SP could do for our company then let our users decide what they wanted. We sold them on it by figuring out what SP would automate and doing an internal ‘marketing campaign’, let them have ownership, and didn’t force them to work only 1 way.

  4. Muddy Paws Trail Races

    February 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    [...] As SharePoint 2013 appears to be entering its twilight, user’s frustration with the platform has reached a critical level. According to Huffington Post, SharePoint users feel a ‘deep-seated disgust’ for SharePoint. In recent articles, popular media outlets ZDNet, PCWorld, CIO World, ZDNet, AIIM and more question SharePoint’s future, especially its ability to transition from an on-premises software application to a collaborative cloud application platform for use by organization collaboration beyond the corporate firewall. Due to its frustrating user interface and lack of features, users often secretly revert back to email for file sharing and collaboration, says Nick Gamiano in a July 2013 posting at Huddle.com. [...]

  5. Growing SharePoint User Frustration Spurs SureClinical to Release White Paper for BioPharma Companies, Evaluating SharePoint-Based eTMF Applications

    February 22, 2014 at 5:43 am

    [...] As SharePoint 2013 appears to be entering its twilight, user’s frustration with the platform has reached a critical level. According to Huffington Post, SharePoint users feel a ‘deep-seated disgust’ for SharePoint. In recent articles, popular media outlets ZDNet, PCWorld, CIO World, ZDNet, AIIM and more question SharePoint’s future, especially its ability to transition from an on-premises software application to a collaborative cloud application platform for use by organization collaboration beyond the corporate firewall. Due to its frustrating user interface and lack of features, users often secretly revert back to email for file sharing and collaboration, says Nick Gamiano in a July 2013 posting at Huddle.com. [...]

  6. Smitty

    July 2, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Basically Sharepoint is unusable. Most of the un-usability is from a total lack of intuitive interface. I am an experienced (almost 40 years) PC user, not to mention an experienced software developer, and I am baffled by how to perform the simplest of tasks in Sharepoint. For example, right now, I want to create a new page and link it to my main project page, but, I cannot figure out how to do that. I see no menu items which allow me to create a new page. Yet, I have complete permissions to do so – according to the Sharepoint expert in our group, I can’t even find what permissions I have. Basically Sharepoint is garbage, and the folks that developed it should be forced to use it for the rest of their professional career.

  7. Neeeol

    July 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    I concur with Smitty. It is astonishing that MS felt that SP 2013 was ready to leave the developers. The “management” is so convoluted that it’s darn near impossible to keep things straight (one of my custom columns shows up in lists, the other show up in the doc library settings!) We can not turn off the OWA crap – which doesn’t work; we lose work all the time when people try using the Office365 junk. To make changes to files requires a massive number of mouse clicks; just to change the value of a property on the file, not the file itself, requires you to first find the file, then click, then click “file”, then click “update properties”, then click yes to check out the file, then change the property (usually at least three clicks) then click save, then click check in, then enter the check in comment. Who thinks this up???? Trying to use the Quick edit function doesn’t help, because you can’t do group changes and you STILL need to check each file out individually!

    Files go in standard nested folders. But the root level folders are “Document Libraries”, and the subfolders are, well, sub-folders. And the two are managed differently. WHY?????????????????

    And don’t get me started on the garbage templates for the interface.Apparently, MS has decided that you should only be able to put less stuff on a bigger screen. SO much space is wasted by the interface templates we should be able to sue them for unlawful taking of property! And in my company, we are not allowed to change the master page, so there’s nothing I can do about it. And that’s the other thing – the ASP pages are all gobs and gobs of ASP code – NOT the content. So you cannot get in and tweak things. It’s all assembled at runtime. It’s like they missed no opportunity to screw over their “customers.” Although, this system is so bad that victims would be a better word for those of us that have to try using this junk.

    We also have a system called Documentum available to us, and every time I bring up the possibility of switching to it, the response is NO WAY! But I’m about fed up with trying to use SP 2013. Documentum can’r possibly be as bad as SP. This Micros%$t stuff is a major cause of frustration and stress, and I don’t need more of EITHER!!!!!!

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