IT’s Relationship with SharePoint Users: Search and Destroy vs. Nurture

In my conversations with IT departments about how SharePoint is used in their organizations, the topic of old and/or dormant sites almost always comes up. The IT way to think about this is to immediately bring up ideas like “archive” or “delete”. We can get that disk space back! Our job will get easier!

I would turn that around. Rather than looking for sites to delete (Unfortunately, too often I’d say a *HUGE* percentage would go depending on the criteria you decide to use.), we should be asking questions like:

  • What made you decide to use SharePoint in the first place? (Were you forced? Did you see great promise?)
  • What was your early experience with SharePoint like? (Did you have enough support? Did it make sense to you?)
  • What did you try to use SharePoint for?
  • How long did you actively use it?
  • What made you stop using it? (Was it too hard to use? Did it not support your business needs? Could you not get the help that you needed?)
  • What could we change to make SharePoint useful for you?

I’ll bet you $1,000,000 (that’s one million US dollars) that almost none of the answers to that last question will be on the list of the IT organization’s goals for 2011. And I’ll also bet that "Upgrade to SharePoint 2010" isn’t on that list. What SharePoint 2010 offers by way of *functionality* may be represented on the list, but the product itself probably won’t come up.

If you don’t know your users and their needs very well, they’ll find other ways to get their jobs done.  There are lots of options out there, and they will find them whether they are allowed by your governance model or not. (Yeah, you have a governance model, right? Not a written down one, an *understood* one.)

Nurture your users. Be collaborative with them to help them get their jobs done. Stop deleting their stuff.


  1. So true Mark. I might add much of the SP “dead space” is caused by the mentality of “save it, we may need it later” as the users (many of whom are the designers) still “think” in folders rather than SP. It’s also cause by developing live (a habit I’m trying to break). But you hit the nail on the head…the roll out and support.


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