Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SharePoint CoE vs SharePoint Server CoE

Disclosure: I was recently hired and then quickly fired from a SharePoint Center of Excellence, and the experience gave me some insight I’d like to share.

Borrowed from:
When I was interviewing for this position, I was mainly asked questions involving ROI and Value proposition regarding SharePoint. The client has a huge SharePoint environment and felt there wasn’t as much value being reaped from the investment as could be. It seemed like a great opportunity to sink my teeth into the more human side of SharePoint and I was excited to do it. The recruiter said the client was extremely picky, and when I got an offer after a few grueling interviews, she was thrilled.

On day one of my assignment, I show up at the client’s SharePoint CoE. Strange day, as I am put through a rigorous technical interview that seems like a Microsoft certification exam but much more vague. I do very poorly.  Coming back from a 3 month break with my newborn daughter, and having expected a business role, I can’t remember the nitty gritty details off the top of my head. The people at the table are all looking at me with an expression of surprise and disgust, what is this guy doing here and how did he even make it this far? A few days pass and I am told by the business unit manager that they need someone who is technically excellent at architecture and can sit down with the end client and be just as smart as their architects. I am not that guy, and I can’t help them deliver more value from SharePoint.

At first I was really confused by what happened, but I think I now understand. This particular SharePoint CoE is actually a SharePoint Server CoE. The only focus is on the health and performance of the SharePoint server, and this is done by bringing in the best technical people money can buy.

I think this is just awful. I wish people involved would understand the difference between a well-oiled SharePoint farm and a valuable one. An army of technical experts will never be enough to create a true SharePoint CoE that derives value for the end user. Technical experts are fantastic at the WHAT, but often fail to think about the HOW and rarely acknowledge the WHY. (See this video

A great example of this was a discussion during my technical grill session regarding JavaScript. I mentioned that I could create a Sandboxed solution with a piece of JavaScript such that it would crash everyone’s browser when they opened that page, thus rendering the site useless. The response I got was: “Not our problem, the server will run according to SLA”.

Don’t make the same mistake as this CoE in question. SharePoint is far more than a healthy farm. Understand the value it is bringing to your business, and understand WHY it is in place at all. Only when looking from that perspective can you have a SharePoint CoE vs a SharePoint Server CoE.

1 comment:

matim said...

Great article! Most People don't understand that SharePoint has layers and the two ends of that layered stack are two different ball games.