Orgs Struggle To Make SharePoint's Case to Employees

Organizations are largely deploying SharePoint, but employees and departments remain unconvinced about using the content and document management system for themselves, according to a recent survey by industry group AIIM.

AIIM is a large nonprofit and influential trade association covering the enterprise and information technology markets. The group surveyed 274 of its members in June for its 2016 "Impact of SharePoint" report, available here with registration. The report found that SharePoint use has increased incrementally since last year, but more than half (58 percent) of respondents said that convincing users remains a challenge. The key problem, according to 43 percent, is that employees or groups have their own preferred file-sharing applications for everyday usage.

Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) said they are planning hybrid environments, with a majority of their content being hosted in SharePoint Online, while some portion of their data deemed sensitive remaining on-premises. About 17 percent of respondents are planning to move everything into SharePoint Online.

Also, while SharePoint Server 2016 has been generally available since May, only 23 percent are aware of what the new version offers, while 29 percent have no idea. A quarter said they're still on SharePoint 2010 and 41 percent on SharePoint 2013. Only 17 percent said they'll increase spending to upgrade to SharePoint 2016, while 13 percent say they'll purchase the new release for the first time and a mere 2 percent have gone live with it. (Granted, at the time the survey was taken, SharePoint 2016 had only been in the market for one month.)

Twenty-eight percent of organizations identified SharePoint as their main enterprise content management/document management (ECM/DM) system, with 13 percent saying it's important to their overall ECM/DM environment.

However, 22 percent reported reluctant employees are hampering adoption of SharePoint.

Since its release, many organizations have struggled to get broad groups of employees to use SharePoint. A substantial percentage (40 percent) said their SharePoint implementations aren't successful, with two-thirds (67 percent) blaming that on inadequate user training. About the same portion (66 percent) said it's too difficult to use, and 64 percent reported that lack of support from senior management is the reason that their deployments have failed.

"I've heard personally from folks that have said senior management decided to deploy SharePoint because it's SharePoint but they have no clear understanding of what it's supposed to do," said Bob Larrivee, vice president and chief analyst of AIIM. "Change management is still a big issue when it comes to SharePoint."

According to the survey, 58 percent of respondents cited change management for their reluctance to use SharePoint, with 51 percent blaming it on a lack of technical expertise and more than one-third pointing to inconsistent metadata classifications as a key problem.

Barry Jinks, CEO of Colligo, which co-sponsored the AIIM survey along with Gimmal, said executive sponsorship is critical. "If you don't have senior management support and governance for SharePoint, people will say, 'Maybe I'll use SharePoint, maybe Dropbox, Box or seeming else,'" Jinks said. "So you get this mishmash of document storage solutions throughout a company."

Despite those challenges, there is some good news. About 58 percent said that revitalizing their SharePoint projects through user training is a priority and 50 percent said they plan to update their SharePoint government policies. More than one-third (35 percent) say they plan to focus on making SharePoint their primary ECM.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.