Let’s Have Another SharePoint Failure!

The third step of taking a strategic approach to the use of Office 365 focuses on creating the right organisational context for achieving value. This is founded on the principle that any particular thing exists within a wider environment, and the wider environment either enables or constrains that thing:
– the wheel doesn’t work without the car which doesn’t work without good roads and good driving disciplines.
– the fish swims in water.
– the use of SharePoint takes place within a group of people working at an organisation that has a particular culture

That’s the principle, and there’s a set of important disciplines to line up in order to create the right context, such as executive support, business engagement, and governance. I have explored quite a bit of this in my book Collaboration Roadmap, although by design that book doesn’t have a specific Office 365 focus.

Here’s a set of statements about a specific organisation:

1. The firm is moving to Office 365, from an on-premises Exchange, Lync, and SharePoint environment.

2. The firm has been using SharePoint for many years, and has had three major SharePoint deployments over the past decade.

(all good so far, but now for the context …)

3. All three of the SharePoint deployments have been considered a failure. Among other things, for example, out-of-date sites are never archived / deleted / tidied up, resulting in a data sprawl, and secondly, key people refuse to use SharePoint.

4. The current SharePoint deployment follows a heavily customised design, using add-on products from a SharePoint firm. The design has languished in recent years, becoming inflexible and hated by staff.

5. The move to Office 365 is viewed by management as a “lift-and-shift,” although technically that’s not possible given the current customised design. And the current design is out-of-date anyway.

6. No one has made an attempt to engage with key parts of the business around their use of SharePoint. It is actively resisted by many, if not rejected outright.

7. Teams that do similar work across the firm do not talk together, share ideas, or learn from each other. Although the requirements of the work are exactly the same, the firm is divided into specific geographical silos, and there is no discussion across the silos. No one cares what the other teams are doing.

8. No one in executive management champions the cultural tenets of collaboration, sharing, openness, and transparency.

9. Any attempt by the SharePoint administrator to flag fundamental issues with the approach to moving to Office 365 are dismissed at worst, or put on a risks register at best.

I could go on, but … that context is not right nor ready for SharePoint or Office 365 or any “collaboration” tool. The current project will be a failure, and the tool will be blamed.

What’s actually needed – regardless of whether the tool is SharePoint, Office 365, Jive, Google, IBM Connections, or anything else – is an audit of the organisational readiness for collaboration and sharing as cultural tenets, followed by an assessment of what tools, capabilities and approaches would fit within that assessment. In the above, for example, there is a critical need for someone in executive management – ideally the CEO – to champion the cultural tenets, to create the organisational context that expects and requires cross-firm sharing, that puts cultural emphasis on being on the same journey. Without this the attempt to move to the cloud is merely a request for yet another failed SharePoint project.

I used to offer a specific audit service, but now that type of assessment is part of my Planning Success consulting service.

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