SharePoint as a technology platform usually isn’t problematic; the implementation of SharePoint is often where the problem lies.

The current budget climate means an investment in SharePoint may come under more scrutiny
than ever to boost productivity. When SharePoint is locked down beyond being
useful, and infrastructure such as file storage can’t support users, SharePoint is bound for trouble.

I’ve observed SharePoint be a successful and integral business platform for
collaboration and content management. I’ve also witnessed SharePoint
implementations fail, even on teams that had knowledgeable SharePoint users
onboard; these users had to give up on the platform or only use it at the behest of a
management or process mandate.

Here are some ways to turn a failed SharePoint
implementation into a success.

Migrate to Office 365

With budgets
shrinking across the commercial and federal government sectors, onpremise SharePoint farms (especially if underutilized
because of a failed implementation) are coming under the budget spotlight.

your on-premise SharePoint implementation is failing and underutilized, it might be time for your organization to move to Office 365 (budget permitting). This
can be an opportunity to start over on SharePoint, especially in areas of
governance and site management. Moving to the cloud can also help save on
infrastructure and security costs, while opening up SharePoint to mobile and
remote users without the requirements of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a
mobile security solution.

Revise your SharePoint governance plan

SharePoint governance is a guideline on how an organization
plans to use SharePoint. The process of creating a SharePoint governance plan
varies from organization to organization. Bureaucracy, SharePoint misconceptions,
and other related factors can further muddy SharePoint governance.

When reviewing a failed SharePoint implementation and the
following complaints come to light, you need to revise your SharePoint governance so your organization can finally get a return on its SharePoint investment:

  • Lack of storage;
  • Lack of user training;
  • Poor site navigation; and
  • Lack of site control at the department/team
    level hampered user productivity.

Rally internal SharePoint champions 

Even when I’ve been inside an organization where SharePoint
was failing, there were still internal champions for the platform. These were
users who had business interest in
the platform to solve one of their pain points like document version control or
SharePoint power users who had collaboration experience from previous jobs or

Rallying those internal champions (even the frustrated
ones) into the turnaround of SharePoint is a necessity. You should include these people
in the governance plan revision process and any restarts you attempt on the technology
side. The reaffirmation of SharePoint by an internal champion who end
users trust goes further than a management mandate, job aid, or user training
ever could.

Decentralize SharePoint site management

A common theme I’ve seen in failed and floundering SharePoint
implementations has been centralized management where the project teams (i.e., the
internal customers) were little more than visitors to SharePoint.

Decentralizing SharePoint site management to the team level
requires the following:

  • Changing SharePoint governance policies;
  • Establishing site administrator best practices; and
  • Restructuring SharePoint site support policies for
    the help desk.

Once you decentralize SharePoint site management, don’t
forget  to publicize and chat up
successes that teams had with SharePoint on their own projects. The
decentralized model isn’t about “setting SharePoint free,” it’s about finding a
balance that accounts for user/team productivity, infrastructure/storage, and support.

Playing the decentralized SharePoint card means you must have the power users out there to take a lead on SharePoint within the
departments and the teams. If you don’t have enough power users, you may have
to grow your own through cross-pollination with other power users, on the job
training, third-party training, or a combination of all three.

Introduce mobile access to SharePoint

Some of the most leading edge and creative work
around accessing SharePoint and Office 365 is being done by mobile
app developers like and Colligo.

I’ve tried most of the major iPad apps for accessing
SharePoint and the Office 365 and SharePoint Mobile Client in particular could breathe new
life into SharePoint access by providing a better (and touch screen) user

Migrate away from the SharePoint platform 

Being at the center of the Microsoft enterprise ecosystem
and being available through enterprise licensing agreements helped
SharePoint gain its dominant enterprise footprint; however, the collaboration
platform market is maturing and growing right around the SharePoint platform
due to the advent of the cloud.

Alastair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle,
and Dan Schoenbaum of Teambox (both companies are SharePoint competitors) point to failed SharePoint implementations in their own
career and company histories. In fact, Huddle unabashedly targets SharePoint
while promoting itself as an alternative. (Read Huddle vs. SharePoint: A comparative analysis in three collaboration scenarios.)

When shopping for a SharePoint alternative, you should keep the
migration of documents and other site content like calendar information and
task lists at the top of your requirements list. Both Huddle and Teambox offer
free test drives and a wealth of online content that can help you decide if
either platform is a viable SharePoint alternative for your organization.


It makes poor financial and business sense to leave SharePoint to flounder in down economic times. Instead, you should make quick work of turning around a failed
SharePoint implementation. This can have a positive effect across your organization in
areas of collaboration, document management, and security.