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SharePoint Dinged for Lack of Management Controls

By Stuart J. Johnston

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A new survey from an important content management association finds that, although Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration and document sharing server is racking up sales, many deployments lack thorough planning.

The report, from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), queried some 624 of its members regarding deployment of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) SharePoint Server.

"A recent survey by AIIM ... has found that less than 50 percent of SharePoint implementations were subject to a formal business case, and only half of those required a financial justification. As a result, most did not have a management plan as to which of SharePoint’s many features were to be used, and where," said a statement from AIIM regarding the survey.

The organization released the results of the survey (requires free registration) earlier this week, which was conducted between May 6 and June 5. Invitations to participate were sent out to a selection of AIIM's 65,000 members.

"Meanwhile, SharePoint deployment is proceeding rapidly, with 22 percent of respondents reporting it to be in use by 100 percent of staff. This adoption rate is set to double by this time next year," AIIM's statement continued.

Despite the lack of planning, however, the survey found that return on investment (ROI) for SharePoint deployments was considered to be "as expected or better."

For a third of respondents, SharePoint was their companies' first enterprise content management (ECM) system, the survey said. However, only 8 percent plan on replacing an existing ECM, document management (DM), or records management (RM) system with SharePoint. Another 7 percent are planning on purchasing a new ECM or DM system to use with SharePoint.

The survey is meant to give IT management a better handle on document management needs, particularly as SharePoint rapidly proliferates with seemingly few restrictions on its application, planning, or management.

"The most popular option is to use SharePoint for collaboration and intranet publishing while relying on existing systems for document and records management," AIIM's statement said.

SharePoint has been a hit in the AIIM community with almost two-thirds of the survey's respondents saying their firm already uses the Microsoft package.

"However, the rapid adoption rate for SharePoint has created confusion in many organizations regarding their future strategy for information management, particularly those with existing and established ECM, RM, and BPM (Business Process Management) systems," the survey added.

A call for more management controls

The survey report calls for more management control and coordination in deploying and managing SharePoint installations. Among the survey's recommendations is to set up a governance committee composed of members from IT management, records management, compliance, and line-of-business departments.

That committee should decide where SharePoint should and shouldn't be used, create a governance plan in advance of rollout, and not try to deploy every feature immediately, the report suggested.

Despite the confusion, though, enthusiasm for SharePoint Server remains strong, with some 13 percent of respondents saying they're planning "a near immediate upgrade to the 2010 release, with half upgrading within a year." SharePoint 2010 began shipping to corporate customers in mid-May.

The first release of SharePoint came in 2003, with the most recent release prior to SharePoint 2010 dubbed SharePoint 2007. By 2008, Microsoft said SharePoint had become a billion dollar business in its own right.

AIIM was founded more than 60 years ago as a not-for-profit group created to help managers, consultants, and users better deal with issues regarding document, content, records, and business process management. The survey report was authored by Doug Miles, who heads AIIM's Market Intelligence Division.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.