Microsoft SharePoint Server implementations can get ugly.
The ease-of-use of the application has led to departments deploying it willy-nilly, often on the sly, for everything from mass knowledge management to ad-hoc SharePoint-based enterprise search.
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 is now Microsoft's fastest-growing software in its history, said Wanda Yu, Microsoft Canada senior product manager. It's passed US$1 billion in sales.
This spells trouble for IT managers, however, as they are the ones who have to deal with the potential fallout from unauthorized departmental implementations that aren't tied in to the company systems or compliance procedures, and that operate away from the CIO's watchful eye. "We've seen a lot of these from-the-bottom-up implementations," said Yu.
It's becoming more common, according to Strategic Counsel senior analyst Warren Shiau. "It's a bit of that self-discovery and delight thing. Now with some common sense this can be a good thing that saves money, time and effort. In the wrong hands -- someone who doesn't use correct safety procedures, (uses inappropriate parts or makes inappropriate modifications), etc. -- it's going to cause trouble somewhere down the line."
And how -- SharePoint practice lead Jignesh Shah of the Toronto-based Microsoft partner Cyberplex has seen his share of it. "People go wild--there's no real governance, no processes in place," the Toronto SharePoint Users Group member said. "All these independent departments don't really talk to each other, and then you have the users going to the Web, reading about these little things they can do and deciding for themselves how to use the platform."
So how best to deal with Microsoft SharePoint Server gone wild?
1) Use Microsoft tools. Microsoft SharePoint Server comes with tools to help IT managers keep tabs on the SharePoint-ing going on in their enterprise, according to Yu.
Admins can head online to find the Governance Resource Center for SharePoint Server 2007.
Help is also available: complimentary deployment planning services are included in service agreements for the software.
2) Start over. Shah said that it's important to re-evaluate as soon as possible. Forming user groups from within and among the various departments will help figure out who needs SharePoint, what they need it for, and what kind of access they get. "Figure out what individual requirements are, and then create standardized documents that form a set taxonomy," he said.