16 January 2012

The [Tools are] too much with Us

As 2012 starts in earnest, I am reminded of the poem from which the title of this post has been taken “The World is too much with Us” by William Wordsworth.   In this poem, Wordsworth laments how out of tune with nature people had become during the first industrial revolution.  In much the same way, I see too much focus being placed on tools in the era of SharePoint.  Business users and Information Technology folks seem to be so enamored by the tools and technology, they forget that the focus should be on needs and solutions.  This is especially true when discussing SharePoint and, as I said many times, SharePoint is not the answer.  

Instead, SharePoint, like any technology, needs only to be included insofar as it provides the basis for creating a solution to a specific problem (or problems).  For example, if you needed to manage documents, SharePoint could provide you with a Document Library for storing the files.  Further, you could leverage Content Types and Information Management Policies to enable more precise management of a document’s lifecycle (if that were a need).  However, your specific use of these features should and must be governed by the solution – the overall set of features, functions and the specific solution implementation  in the context of your needs and goals.

When considering how to proceed with your SharePoint project, consider this one piece of advice: start with the problem or challenge first.  Ignore SharePoint and don’t speak of it again, unless you’re discussing how some feature in SharePoint can support a solution.  Even then, try focusing on the solution (give it a name if you have to) and not the tools or features involved.

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