SharePoint is a platform, not a construction project management system. Available for this platform are numerous software components that have to be continually developed, integrated, tested and maintained. The primary building block of SharePoint is a document repository. As a project goes through its development lifecycle, the need to integrate documents, project costs, and schedules is paramount along with the requirement to easily generate and modify reports. Creating an elegant and seamless approach that ensures adoption is a time consuming and iterative process. Building individual SharePoint environments that are largely “one off” creations go against every best practice published in the marketplace.
Although the trend is changing, I am still amazed at those firms who have lost focus by allowing their internal groups to dabble in the software development business. I have witnessed groups as large as 30 people within Owner and Program Management firms that spend 100% of their time developing their SharePoint environments. Even after all their efforts, you will find none of them provide an effective mechanism so that the project information can be accessed and manipulated via a Mobile Platform.
Our most successful clients are leaders in their market by choosing to focus on their stated missions. They provide healthcare to people who are sick, educate our kids from Pre-K through their PHD’s, build the transportation and water infrastructure that allow us to enjoy a better quality of life, and they all execute better than their competitors who are not similarly focused.
If we advance the discussion and assume that an Owner or Program Manager is now in the software business, let’s ask a series of questions to ensure they are properly executing as a software company.
- Do they have a written help manual that documents all the modules they have built out in SharePoint?
- If setup by the Program Manager, how will the Owner receive their project information after project close-out?
- Where is their SharePoint server located? Is it in a secure location that has been audited by a third party firm?
- Is the server backed up in real time so that if something were to happen to the primary center the secondary center would pick up in an instant without downtime?
- How often is the software enhanced? Is there a documented procedure for how these enhancements are rolled out to ensure the product remains stable?
- Do they have 24 X 7 X 365 support via phone and email?
When you realize that each of these SharePoint environments are effectively being created from scratch each time, it flies in the face of the software development maturity model that software companies follow. Originally developed as a tool for objectively assessing the ability of government contractors’ processes to perform a contracted software product, the Maturity Model below shows how software firms less than 6 years old have yet to reach full product maturity. This results in a negative or low value proposition for the clients as they are often lured into spending valuable time fleshing out the missing or desired functionality.
e-Builder is in it’s 20th year of developing and refining the only single product we have ever sold. It has been tested and continually refined by over 50,000 users. Having had the benefit of working with hundreds of owners who have shared their SharePoint experiences with us, we wanted to share this information so you are better prepared to address the question “Does SharePoint make sense for this project?”
By the way, did you hear that e-Builder is starting up a small internal group to provide Program Management services to Owners? Just kidding!!!!