I live and work in a world where we tend to view Microsoft Sharepoint as a solution to everything: collaboration, communication, and (I have to laugh at this one), document storage. Lately, we’ve been looking at it as a component for a knowledge management system. However, my gut feeling tells me that Sharepoint isn’t an adequate platform for the collaborative elements in a knowledge management system such as expert mapping, information/document sharing, archive of communication, social networking, collaboration tracking and performance support. Not to mention, that security, access, space, and backup issues continually plague the Realm of Sharepoint.
Sharepoint does some pretty neat and fascinating things… it has some helpful features such as a limited but adequate widget for creating surveys and a some nifty meeting workplace features. Still, I have a number of frustrations with the tool: for example, it’s not very user friendly, and searching for a particular document, library or list on a Sharepoint site can be at the very least problematic, and like most Microsoft tools it works in theory – the theory that all human beings act and interact with tools in the same darn way.
I tend to use Google for affirmation on many different topics, which in a way is a broad example of using the intranet to create a social network. Apparently other people do this too. So assuming that others had a ‘love-hate’ relationship with the Sharepoint, I typed into the Google search the words: Sharepoint, criticism of. I found a number of critical and evaluative articles on Software application publications*, but nothing really from hearts and mouths of the “End User.” So I typed instead, I hate Sharepoint. (Later this was followed by a search on Sharepoint Sucks.)
Not surprisingly, I received a number of different responses which painted much more colorful picture of the tool and how it’s perceived by countless people who have to use it.
I tend to agree that Sharepoint sucks. Using it is like closing your eyes, holding your breath and spinning around for thirty seconds. When your done you dont know where you are, you are very dizzy, and feel like you might throw up… I might create something in one place, but cant delete it or rename it there. After 15 minutes of searching, I cant find the same tool I used yesterday to do one thing or another. Its like that house in 13 Ghosts, everything SEEMS to move around on you… What really bothers me is this is not version one. It is a great idea gone horribly implemented.
…STAY AWAY… Sharepoint can be an incredibly useful tool, but in any office where I’ve seen it deployed, it’s acting merely as a web-based front-end to the file-system. If that’s all you’re going to be using it for, you might as well just use the file-system, via Explorer and mapped drives, and do away with the glorified front end.
…i absolutely hate sharepoint even though it seems to be serving purpose here of a company with over 9,000 employees. i have to do the support and administrative stuff for it and have several users I can’t get connected to our Portal for some reason we can’t figure out.Sharepoint.
…I hate Sharepoint with the passion of 10,000 burning Lotus Notes users
…Sharepoint is a decent enough idea but it lacks a logical flow for navigation. Also, sometimes it just seems more cumbersome than it’s worth but eh, it works too.
… Honestly, I found Sharepoint so inadequate and typical of a first generation MS product that I could only shake my head at it. If it was made by anyone else than MS and had to compete on its merits I suspect most of us would have never even heard of it
As a result of my mini-quest to find others who are of like mind when it comes to Sharepoint, I started to find more information about other tools which could be used for collaboration and document sharing other than MS Sharepoint. Another alternative for collaboration on projects is Basecamp. The Basecamp home site actually includes a short screentour of the Basecamp application. Now, I haven’t had the time to assess whether or not Basecamp would suffice as a knowledge management system… or even work well as a component of a healthy one, but it might be worth it to look into this.
As I was reading through the Basecamp Manifesto, I remembered a reference to a collaboration and information publishing tool a friend sent to me called “Backpack.” Suddenly, it all came back to me… Backpack and Basecamp are from the same company (37 Signals.) 37 Signals is a small company with a mission to develop simple and usable software for organization. Their repetoire of tools is interesting, their mission statement and design principles and are refreshing.
I’d like to look at a way to perhaps employ their tools to create a working Knowledge Management system; however, I realize that coming up with the analysis and design for such a system is one thing. Actually, putting into practice and making it usable and successful with a group of people is another, but still, I believe it’s a proposal worth looking into.
Addendum to post…
Looks like Microsoft may be taking the hint about Sharepoint’s rather inflexible nature. It appears that they are incorporating SocialText’s wiki features into Sharepoint. Apparently, the notion ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ driving Microsoft’s new openess to open-source and externally developed solutions extends past the Novell/Linux incorporation to wikis too.
As noted on Innovation Creators (blog)…
Instead of building one system that tries to do everything, build a system that is capable of integrating with everything. From an IT perspective, Enterprise 2.0 is about gaining network effects from various systems, rather than choosing one limited strategy that is supposed to be all things to all people.
Basecamp – http://www.basecamphq.com/index.php
Sitepoint Forum question: http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/printthread.php?t=389106
Applications that Make the Blood Boil: http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/48409524/m/663004137731/p/1
Alternate Universe Forum Posting: http://auniverse.net/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=536&sid=e1e234cf91bfde55facaeafdf5f5e54f
*I found this article which names a number of things wrong with the Sharepoint application from a developer’s perspective, namely that, “It’s a crappy mish-mash of multiple technologies.”