Why am I doing this?

As an industry analyst on collaboration, and as an advisor to organizations on effective collaboration strategies, I have a long running observation of Microsoft and its collaboration tools and strategy. SharePoint, in particular, once it became clear that Microsoft Exchange Server was not going to be the whole of Microsoft’s collaboration approach, is something that I’ve written about extensively, eg, see my 2001 report (free), the follow-up 2004 report (free), and my 2007 white paper ($49).

With the release of WSS v3 and SharePoint Server 2007, I have said publicly that it is “good enough“. Good enough, mind you, not “perfect” and not “excellent”. You will quickly note that I am not hesitant to point out what I view as glaring technical flaws in SharePoint that have major implications for my constituency … the business man and business woman who has to make use of this tool in their day-to-day work.

Concurrently with writing this book, I am working on an independent technical analysis white paper on SharePoint (all of my work is undertaken from a position of professional independence). When assessed against my vendor-neutral 7 Pillars framework (free), my tentative conclusion is that SharePoint fails in 2 or 3 of the pillars. And I say the same thing in my corporate training workshop on SharePoint.

Update February 2008: The white paper above is now out, and on its own merits SharePoint fails 6 out of the 7 areas. Gulp.

Thus, as you begin this journey with me, know that I’m not a Microsoft fan boy. When I say that SharePoint is suitable to a given task, that’s because I sincerely believe it is. And when I call the opposite, the same applies. I take the view that we (the people) don’t make any progress with embracing tools that have inherent flaws if we keep silent about them, and equally they (Microsoft) can’t address the flaws if they don’t hear about them from us.

That brings me to this book. The main premise is that more and more people will have to use SharePoint going forward, and therefore this book asks how each can make the best of it — flaws and all. Given what’s been offered, how do we each derive maximum value from this tool? And my frame of reference is at the individual and team levels … the people on the front line of work, not the IT staff.

With that framework in mind, let’s begin.

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