As an enterprise tool, Microsoft SharePoint has been a popular platform for many years, if for no other reason than its integration with other Microsoft products. From document management to collaboration, the platform seeks to address numerous use cases across industries. And while its popularity suggests it has achieved this goal, it does have some limitations that make it a less-than-ideal solution.
We explore four common SharePoint issues below—two for its traditional on-premise environment and two for its cloud-based version, SharePoint Online—that often present obstacles for users trying to achieve their own collaboration goals.
It shouldn’t be surprising that an enterprise-level product is costly, but a full investment in SharePoint can easily break the budget if you factor in:
- Initial purchase
- Setup and configuration
- Rollout and end user training
- Maintenance and upgrading
- IT resources
The initial purchase of the system may be daunting enough, but it’s all the additive costs that make SharePoint so expensive. We emphasize IT resources because not enough people realize going in that the platform requires initial and ongoing attention from specialized personnel.
Consider that configuring SharePoint is not a one-time occurrence. As end users interact with the platform, they invariably request changes and additions that require IT assistance. And when a new version of SharePoint comes out, IT will need to upgrade, which can be time-consuming (and sometimes problematic). Also, sometimes SharePoint doesn’t “play nice” with other systems, and IT has to resolve those issues as well.
Given the broad array of use cases SharePoint was developed to handle, it’s no wonder the end user experience is negatively impacted. The platform is not intuitive, and tasks that should take only one or two steps require multiple steps to accomplish. That means more time training users. And don’t forget about developing and managing training content, especially as your IT team continues to add to and change the platform’s functionality.
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These and other factors contribute to SharePoint’s low user-adoption rates. According to one report on SharePoint, 58% of surveyed respondents indicate user adoption of the platform is an issue within their organization.
You can’t use SharePoint Online without an Office 365 license for every user. This isn’t a big deal if your organization already employs Office 365, but it’s a significant barrier to entry if you don’t.
For example, your organization may not have migrated to Office 365 and is still using an older version of the suite, such as Office 2013. Making the switch from single-use Office 2013 to cloud-integrated Office 365 can be extremely costly, especially when you have hundreds to thousands of employees to license.
The lack of intuitiveness extends into SharePoint online—except this context involves guest users.
If you want external or guest users to join your SharePoint environment, there’s a convoluted process that not only makes collaborating more challenging but could make your guest abandon joining altogether. There are multiple touch points involved for the guest to register and access the intended resource. The result? Your guest will request you to send a file directly by email instead, or seek another off-platform alternative—negating the purpose of SharePoint.
These limitations serve as a reminder that while SharePoint is a robust enterprise platform, your organization may be better off seeking more tailored alternatives.