I have been tweeting with @TonyByrne for a while and he asked me if I would review the CMS Watch: The SharePoint Report 2009. Since the government is now getting into blog watching I’ll go ahead and state that no money or products were exchanged for the opinions you are about to read. I was given a copy of the report to review, full stop.
I’ll start with a quasi –executive summary. This report is extremely useful as a basis of concepts and definitions as well as giving a constant big picture and focused view of SharePoint. Everything from costs issues (licenses) to server needs to what the orbiting SharePoint world of 3rd part solutions looks like.
The report seems to be written for everyone that would touch SharePoint. It would be a great resource for a consultant or the solutions minded person that gets SharePoint set in their lap. It provides back and foreground information to preview any questions and concerns they would have, such as what can SharePoint do and not do well.
The strength of the report lies in the fact that it breaks down the many faceted arguments into a presentable language that would not confound or confuse the non- technical person. It provides them with a terminology and concepts to report back their IT depts, end users and the business in general.
Concepts of ECM, WCM, Social computing all receive a thorough breakdown. These are the top level End User functions that come to mind, but there are many subjects that go deeper behind the scenes such as Security, Governance and Technical limits and this report addresses each. The report offers an opportunity for each group involved with all these to read, discuss and plan as group and as a not a silo-ed deployment where each component ignores the needs of the others.
A great function of this report is that it constantly gives a through breakdown of what MOSS does and to what extend how well function each does it. This would be vital information to help base a large decision to invest or not. This is done on two scales, visually via tables and charts.
For organizations this report would provide the vital foresight for the need and use of 3rd party add-on’s and consultants; a topic that very rarely gets mentioned and only comes to light when pressure points of implementation are met. Reading Chapter 7 on the SharePoint Ecosystem will provide needed perspective when venturing out of their internal solutions to rest of the world. Most notably the report indicates the 3rd built solutions and how support may not be a long-term issue. A great concept to know beforehand.
Personally I found the explanation for Content Types to be priceless. One of the first few steps to more advanced SharePoint configurations that people get into is Content Types. SharePoint by nature is not easy to explain since many words and terms overlap in SharePoint and MS regular use worlds. This example is another reason this report benefits all. It would be a key element of a training department’s arsenal of content.
There are instances where the report will fly completely over someone’s head and comprehension, but if SharePoint is part of the organizational plan, it will serve as reference once learning curves are surpassed. Before wading into authored books and SharePoint bibles this report can serve as a foundation to introduce concepts that drive the need to extend further knowledge and materials.
I also particularly liked how SharePoint frustrations (such as Site creep and My Site open chaos) are honestly addressed. As I mentioned before many organizations find these frustrations out only too late, but by spelling these issues out beforehand organizations can begin to plan for governance early and avoid such mass collisions of the platform.
If anything this report does not offer a how to guide to develop or deploy SharePoint, its strength is giving an objective look at what develop or deploy SharePoint is. To close out the report Chapter 8 offers a map to the obstacle course that is SharePoint implementation. If (and I do not recommend this) this report just gets skimmed make sure your organization reads this chapter. It does not sum up the report but it provides the topics, ideas and questions of the SharePoint discussions that need to take place.