“We get charged for what?” or how to fight back to explain why SharePoint’s business case outweigh charge backs

When I left off last I was riding high. My SharePoint sites were becoming the talk of the department. User numbers were up; requests for enhancements were on management’s minds. I was getting invited to high level meetings to assess what SharePoint could do for intradepartmental projects. Rumor had it my bonus was going to be tied to the success and all for the low low cost of my research and implementation.

During the year my professional strides were matched by my progress in the boxing gym. Weight was dropping, my conditioning levels were up. My foot work and speed were showing the first signs of speed in the ring and on the bags.

Then this arrived just as the final bell was ready to sound.

—– Original Message —–
From: counter.bean@corp.com
To: you@corp.com
Sent: Wed Dec 23 19:29:07 2008
Subject: SharePoint Charges Beginning in January

Dear Colleague,

As you may be aware, historically the SharePoint product was made available without any associated charges to users as it was originally funded within the company. With the increased global use and availability of the product, we will begin planned individual monthly chargeback’s in 2009 to all users and site owners.

In January, your department will begin getting charged for this site and will be based on the storage allocated to the site.
Currently, you site is allocated at ****MB and your monthly charge will be $**.00 USD.

Additional information and details regarding the chargeback methodology as well as the processes for making changes to your SharePoint site ownership, usage and/or storage allocation are available on our bean counter intranet site.

Any questions can be directed to Head Tech Bean Counter.

Thank you,
B Counter

Translator’s Note: Microsoft gave it to us free for a year and now we’re getting stuck with the bill. Therefore ante up or we cancel.

A sneaky blow right at the bell. I hobbled back and had a little conversation with my corner. Breathe, kid. Bonuses are based on ’08 not ’09, you still came in under cost. So as I see it will be a split decision in your favor. We’ll get’em in the next fight.

But, I can hear them now. “Yes, SharePoint is nice but at what cost does it justify itself to the project?

Breathe, kid. It’s a sucker punch that’s all. Keep your hands up and keep at that improvement jab. Hit the research bag hard over the break and come at ‘em hard next year.

Yo Mick, there is a business case to make here and uh if you don’t mind I’d like to take a shot at the next meeting.

Sure thing, kid. They gotta strategize for next year so we’ll get you on the under card in the first meeting ‘09.

In boxing you often hear your trainer say “lead with the jab” and “work the body”. Translated to SharePoint buy-in strategy, I’m going to lead with efficiency and then work the cost savings.

Personally I don’t like to go for knockouts when I need to pitch or propose. The knockout strategy that works in the ring has never bore fruit in the conference room. If anything I like to leave the nay-sayers blurry, staggering and breathless. In the end you are at the mercy of the judges, so why seem overly aggressive.


Lead with Efficiency

SharePoint can offer vastly deeper and more robust knowledge management and storage efficiency than shared folders. Content types and metadata can easily be set up to enhance list and libraries. Shared folders only offer us broad self-named logic.

Simple knowledge gathering and collaboration can be equally present. The maze of Draft and Final folders can be wiped out and be centrally located together.

Contingency and gold sources. Versioning and permissions can protect important files from being lost written over or worse versioned out on too many personal hard drives. Also imagine the reduction of email traffic regarding said files. Less traffic adds to more time producing.

SharePoint usage also offers higher and smarter levels of collaboration while maintaining user control levels.
This feature is a definite plus for those who work in a compliant and audit rich environments
A well thought out and implemented SharePoint site can cut down or even replace the need to access other internal reference sites.
In my case study, a key point was how SharePoint almost eliminated the need to go to a Corporate Learning Management System.
Management level data solutions can be built in for tracking, offering this solution from the end user to senior management alike.

KPIs and Document Management Centers can reduce time to enter and gather Business Intelligence, allowing more time to plan according to the data instead of having to invest time to generate it.

Great round, kid. Now move ’em to the ropes and work the body. Remember your research from training camp. Wear’em out.


Compare the costs of shared folder server space and maintenance fees vs. those SharePoint. Factor in the support costs of techs and extra department staff needed and their availability. SharePoint can’t create total tech autonomy but it can certainly increase current levels. And that adds value.

Show user testing numbers. Calculate the time it takes to access shared folders, open files, search files, versioning and then compare it to the same SharePoint numbers.

Go over the costs of worse case scenarios: files being lost, overwritten, the recovery time, as well as risks associated to sensitive files being accessed by the wrong people.

Another good round I scored that to you. We’re two rounds up. Now just go in there and pop and move when they throw those wild questions.


All good competitors plan and anticipate the adversary so you should be prepared for any questions that come. No matter what they are, the key I have found is to respond honestly.

Many times people want silver bullets and are looking for all inclusive solutions. I definitely bob and weave those opting to counter with how SharePoint can be the right tool for the right task or need. The fact that some of these can overlap is a plus.

Make sure you did your testing as well beforehand; test KPI’s beforehand with valid business data not filler numbers to see if it works.

I usually bring a copy of Mark’s site planning spreadsheet and Mind Map of the site and perhaps a few flows to hand out. Having materials for their hands and eyes will keep them within your frame of mind not their potential silver bullet wanderings.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

Great fight, kid. It’s all up to the judges.


About mhinckley

Michael Hinckley MCSA, MCITP, MCTS, has over 10+ years specializing in solution architecture for organizations that span from small businesses and global corporations. He is currently the Sr. Program Manager at Tangram. Michael is a recognized speaker and evangelist for Microsoft SharePoint and Business Intelligence stacks. He organizes tech community events (SharePoint Saturdays) throughout Florida and runs the Tampa SharePoint/Office User Group. He is a contributing author for the book Microsoft SharePoint for Business Executives: Q&A Handbook.
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