A prospective client just came to AKG with a sputtering SharePoint implementation. After some quick analysis, we discovered that this SharePoint program was suffering a common malady – control wars between the business leadership and the CIO organization. This is a common SharePoint killer and while the solution – collaboration between the two camps – is easy enough to describe, it is somewhat harder to manage. More often than not, an innovator (or innovative work team) in the business group discovers SharePoint and immediately sees how it can help them get work done. Because they are in a hurry, they look for the path of least resistance. How can we get SharePoint up quickly? The answer often lies in a CIO work-around. Already you have the seeds of a problem. The classic CIO approach – "tell us what you want to do, and we'll figure out what technology to use" – has already been outflanked. The CIO has legitimate concerns of its own. How is SharePoint going to be governed? Who decides what site fits into what Site Collection? How will network and information security be protected? When the inevitable push for custom code arises, how will that be managed? As SharePoint user adoption spreads (and it will), how do we factor in help desk considerations, operations and maintenance, migration from WSS to MOSS?
We've been through the cycle. We've started with a client at the one-server guerilla level – installed and operated by the business unit as an "R&D pilot". It probably was the right way to start – it got things off and running and started to solve business problems immediately. Over time, however, the "pilot" had accumulated 20,000 users, which was a bit like hiding a rhinoceros behind a bulrush. To make a long story short, the CIO's office wisely pulled the pilot into its framework and, to its credit, didn't kill the culture and norms that fostered the success of the application. The application is still user driven, first-tier support is still provided by people in the work-groups (maintains ownership and dynamism in the site while minimizing resource impact on the CIO), and responsible innovation is encouraged. The program has grown to 42,000 users and 1,000 workgroups.
Are there points of friction? Yes. It isn't the unrestrained, immediate response environment it used to be. There are more hoops to jump through. The program has perhaps tilted a bit too far toward emphasis on the technical at the expense of the business, but it continues to grow and the dialog between the tech and business sides of the house continues as well.
So, what's the bottom line here? If SharePoint implementations are going to succeed at the enterprise level, a working arrangement needs to be forged between the CIO's office and the business leadership. It will require compromise on both sides, and it will succeed if both sides see the advantage of playing it this way.
For long term success, SharePoint implementations depend on a healthy give-and-take between the business leadership and the CIO's office. SharePoint adoption depends on this dialogue.