SharePoint has unquestionably garnered a lot of attention from business users and IT. Toby Bell, Gartner's research vice president, calls SharePoint 2007 "nothing short of a phenomenon".
He says the growing number of searches for SharePoint on Gartner.com indicates high interest in the product and some confusion about its value.
"For Microsoft and its partner ecosystem, it's easy to see SharePoint becoming the billion dollar baby in ECM [enterprise content management]," says Bell via e-mail. "[However,] estimating the potential ROI of SharePoint and related products for enterprise buyers is harder."
Indeed, the true costs of deploying and supporting SharePoint are not well understood. Fundamental misconceptions about SharePoint prevent organisations from deploying it effectively and realising its value. Many IT executives view SharePoint as a shrink-wrapped product that can be installed and configured in hours or days. In fact, it cannot. SharePoint is truly an enterprise information platform and must be treated as such. That means SharePoint configuration work needs to be well-planned and designed-not conducted in an ad-hoc fashion.
What's more, because SharePoint has been popular among users, SharePoint sites have popped up all over enterprises, resulting in what is known as "SharePoint sprawl".
The ability for users to easily create and manage a SharePoint site is one of the product's benefits, but the subsequent sprawl takes up lots of storage space, increases costs and makes it harder for users to find documents due to inconsistent metadata and tagging.
This article explores the true costs of SharePoint-both expected and unexpected. By gaining a firm handle on these costs, IT leaders will be able to identify whether the product is right for their organisations and will be better prepared to take advantage of SharePoint's many benefits.
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