Microsoft SharePoint remains a familiar component in many enterprise environments. Unfortunately, user adoption can often fall short of IT and management expectations, particularly in today’s agile enterprise where employees demand greater levels of collaboration, mobility and social interaction. In fact, studies have shown that as few as 11% of SharePoint deployments are recognized as a success by the wider business1. However very few organizations show willingness to replace SharePoint in its entirety, opting instead to adopt complimentary products and services to extend functionality against key use cases, such as external collaboration.

So what are SharePoint’s key limitations and is it time to shift you SharePoint expectations?

SharePoint was never designed for external collaboration

Successful enterprises rely on a wide ecosystem of partners, subcontractors, suppliers and clients. Unfortunately, SharePoint was designed for internal collaboration, not sharing beyond the firewall. Setting up access for external users and creating new sites can be a time-consuming process for users and project teams, and often requires IT support.

At worst, external users must have a domain account added to the organization’s Active Directory. At best, external users must register for a Microsoft / Windows ID and must use that (rather than their work email) to access SharePoint content. Neither scenario is satisfactory for user or IT administrator.

Increased mobility brings increased productivity

SharePoint is great for internal users sat a desk, but for remote / mobile worker things quickly break down. Microsoft does not offer native SharePoint apps and access must be made through a mobile browser.

Depending on the device type being used, SharePoint will serve one of three browsing options and, with it, three very different user experiences. For organizations looking to improve employee productivity this is far from optimal. An organization that enables its employees to collaborate more efficiently will have a clear efficiency and innovation advantage over one that doesn’t. Collaboration tools without an effective mobile component will seem obsolete to users and risk falling into disuse.

Poor usability impacts employee engagement

The consumerization of enterprise technology is well documented; today’s employees value (and expect) the same level of usability they find in consumer tools. So, while IT professionals enthuse about the potential scope for SharePoint within their business, end users only care about how tools will make their daily tasks simpler. If a SharePoint deployment isn’t designed with the business user in mind, adoption and continued usage will tumble. This can often lead to users defaulting to the lowest common denominator and using email; or increasing the risk of shadow IT as users bring their own consumer-grade file sharing and collaboration tools into the workplace.

 

For many organizations looking to deliver a more compelling external collaboration use case to users, it’s likely time to narrow expectations of SharePoint and consider augmenting with complimentary tools. 54% of IT professionals are already doing this in a bid to close the gap between IT and business user requirements2.

SharePoint’s limitations shouldn’t prevent employees from benefiting from enhanced usability and cloud-enabled benefits. Huddle provides IT professionals with a secure cloud-based platform that works alongside SharePoint to overcome many of the barriers that can inhibit employee adoption, (including external collaboration, mobility, usability and speed of deployment).

To learn more, read our whitepaper on Overcoming SharePoint Limitations.

1) https://www.colligo.com/media/document/Colligo-OptimizingSharePoint-IW2015.pdf

2) SharePoint Usage Survey 2014 (Forrester Research) 

Stuart Cochran

Chief Technology Officer

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