Michael Sampson is presenting is research on SharePoint - his evaluation of the product against his framework for collaboration.

Three questions:

Technology selection
Post Implementation

This session will focus on the choice of technology. (Disclaimer, if you have already purchased SharePoint, you may leave this room angry.)

Michael is an analyst and consultant in collaboration. He's vendor independent/neutral.

What is team collaboration and what kind of behaviors does it entail?
- making a decision
- authoring a document
- new product development

What technology do we need to support collaboration, so it improves work practices and make work better than current approaches.

7 Pillars reference framework for evaluating collaborative tools. (The full report is available free, on his web site)
   Shared access to team data
   Location independence
   Real-time joint viewing
   Team-aware calendaring
   Social Engagement Tools
   Enterprise Action Management
   Collaboration auto-discovery

How does SharePoint stack up against the 7-Pillars framework?

On its own merit, SharePoint does really well in one area (pillar one) and "FAIL"s the remaining six.

Pillar One: Shared Access to Team Data - PASS

What does "Pass" look like?
   Separate team space
   Many types of digital objects
   Ability for many people to access

"SharePoint is great at providing a place for shared access to team data."

Pillar Two: Location Independence - "FAIL"

In any team, some people will need the ability to work independent of location.

What does "Pass" look like?
   In the office
   Out of the office
   Mobile device

SharePoint offers:
Browser -
fine, when you have a connection.
Outlook -
You can connect to Outlook, BUT, it's all over the Outlook Implementation. Unaware of changes from SharePoint. No Off-line access. Docs edited off-line do not sync automatically.
Groove 2007  -
Provides a way of taking a document library off-line with SharePoint. Groove 3.1 was a great product, but the capabilities have been pulled back. Now, context is missing. Only documents synched with no awareness of any discussion, calendar, tasks, etc.. Metadata is overwritten. You lose awareness of who's involved.
Windows Mobile 6 -
(survey: 60% of room syncs calendar, tasks, etc, to a device). When you sync between Win Mobile to Outlook, it all synchs. BUT, if you have SharePoint in the mix, these (tasks, etc.) do not come across. You are in the dark. The only option, when on a mobile device, is to get on-line and use the browser to access your SharePoint site. There are fundamental issues that make SharePoint for Collaboration difficult. Unacceptable for mobile users.

Problem - no awareness of conflicting edits (in Lotus Notes, we call these replication conflicts) which leads to data atrophy. Discussion of importance of replication conflicts and their utility in calling awareness to two versions of the truth.

This problem exists in all levels of SharePoint - no field level sync across mobility with many changes. This is a big problem you need to be aware of.

One example of how to mitigate this: Colligo Contributor provides a 3rd party SharePoint off-line client. It does not flag conflicts in SharePoint, but it will call attention to a conflict.

Q. from audience re: "Can't you just use a VPN?" Michael Responds: "I assume that mobility means anywhere - e.g. on a plane.

Pillar Three: Real-time joint viewing - "FAIL"

What does "Pass" look like?
   Synchronous sharing
   Ability to pass control
   Who is available

Pillar Four: Team-aware calendaring - "FAIL"

What does "Pass" look like?
   Team calendar segregated in a team site
   Bring it all together in a single view
   Get to it on a mobile device

IF you add Office Communications Server, this becomes a "Pass"
Problem: Microsoft Exchange cannot see your SharePoint Calendars - it's invisible. Collaboration is broken in terms of free/busy across the organization. "Essentially useless."

Mitigation: create SharePoint sites with email addresses and work backwards; you "can" get around it, but backward.

Pillar Five: Social Engagement Tools- "FAIL"

What does "Pass" look like?
   Sharing of the "implicit"
   Instant Messaging
   Presence and availability
IF you add Office Communications Server, this becomes a "Pass"

Pillar Six: Enterprise Action Management - "FAIL"

What does "Pass" look like?
   separate task list
   integration with personal task list

Mitigation: Microsoft CQWP: but only for a single site collection, requires MOSS 2007, and only works via a Browser.
Another Mitigation is

Pillar Seven: Collaboration auto-discovery - "FAIL"

What does "Pass" look like?
   Discovery of capability
   "who else can help?"
   Deduced expertise of people
   Correlated between sites

So what does this mean?

Michael offers his conclusions based on his research...

1. SharePoint is not a mature collaboration platform
2. Mitigations (technology and human factors) will be required to achieve the full promise of SharePoint
3. Be careful what you use it for, and how you use it.
4. Collaboration is only one of the six pieces of SharePoint 2007.
5. Your driving reason for SharePoint may be one of the other five.

My thoughts on Michael's research and presentation:

Given the 7-pillars framework, which I support, harePoint  is not a suitable solution for collaboration. It only addresses one aspect of the 7-Pillars model.
It is possible for SharePoint to get a passing grade, but only with multiple 3rd party tools.

A rushed but outstanding presentation. i wish he had more time. I really appreciate that Michael included live demos. The audience, mostly SharePoint users, seemed quite interested and appreciative as well. Although I am not a SharePoint users, I try to keep up with the pros and cons of various tools. Michael's 7-Pillars frameworks is a helpful evaluation tool and I now have a better understanding of how SharePoint rates when evaluated against this framework.

Michael has a book on SharePoint, called Seamless Teamwork. I've reviewed it and found it informative.

I wonder if Microsoft will renew Michael's MVP status after this presentation?)

Discussion/Comments (0):

Discussion for this entry is now closed.