Much has been written about adopting SharePoint as a collaboration tool, a workflow engine, a communication vehicle. Countless slides have been written, training and coaching sessions offered, and Power Users designated. But in the end, these campaigns fail if they focus on SharePoint the platform, instead of how SharePoint is being used to solve business problems.
Herein lies a fundamental issue – SharePoint sites are easily identifiable and thus all-too convenient for us to label simply as “SharePoint.” Its pages have recognizable components – lists, libraries, announcements… and how ubiquitous are those three models who grace every new site that is created? But for every site that is generated, a specific problem is being solved (or attempting to be solved): a project team needs to work together across geographical and time zone boundaries; a Community of Practice wants to consolidate valuable knowledge and schedule get-togethers; a functional department wants to increase its engagement with employees.
Virtual gathering places to support these different needs might otherwise be labeled “The Zeus Project Team Hub” (to honor a long-standing tradition of badly-named project teams), or “Financial Management Best Practices Library,” or “Global Marketing Listening Post.” And while the sites themselves may carry those titles, the common vernacular still tends to be, “hey, we have a SharePoint site for that!” But there’s a difference between “come check out the Financial Management SharePoint site,” and “come check out the Financial Management Best Practices Library.” The only thing the first statement tells me is the technology on which it is built; it’s about as helpful as, “come check out the Financial Management HTML page” or “dot net application.” The label “Best Practices Library” reveals more about what it actually is and how it might be able to help me. So if you’re involved in an effort that includes spinning up a SharePoint site, be sure to market it as the solution it solves, because you can’t adopt SharePoint, but you can adopt solutions to real problems.