SharePoint confidential: Why users say SharePoint sucks

02 July 2013 image

If you type “SharePoint sucks” into Google today, you’ll get 290,000 results, with sites listing reasons upon reasons why—one guy came up with 50 reasons.

Sites with screenshots, videos, and even memes are sprinkled all over the Internet—all united in their frustration with Microsoft’s collaboration platform.

Reasons include everything from the frustrating interface to the lack of features to the absence of version control to the countless hours wasted digging around for files. In fact, plenty of users admit to secretly reverting back to email for file sharing and collaboration in general.

Giant enterprise companies and government agencies are paying massive amounts of money to deploy SharePoint in the hopes that their employees will actually use it. But the exact opposite seems to be true. And most IT departments, CIOs, and check-cutting executives have no idea what’s really going on—down on the ground level.

SharePoint Pain Points

So why are people saying things like SharePoint sucks? What is it that has people writing blogs, posting articles, and taking the time to create videos to take big punches at the product? We thought we’d do a one-on-one interview with a (former) SharePoint user to really drill down to the details.

We caught up with Katrin who, a few years back, was using SharePoint at one of the largest consulting companies in the world, which employs over 250,000 people and has clients in 120 countries, so it’s a pretty good place to start. Every department and everyone in the company was using SharePoint at the time, but Katrin remembers it like it was yesterday.

Q: To be fair, tell me, in your opinion, what were the good things about using SharePoint?

A: It was easy to find other co-worker’s contact info and job titles.

Q: Anything else?

A: No, that was it. SharePoint sucks.

Q: What department did you work in? And how was SharePoint being used?

A: I was part of a new marketing subdivision. The entire company was using SharePoint as an extranet.

Q: How did SharePoint work out for your department?

A: It was very clunky, meaning it was difficult to find relevant information, comments, and postings. So no one ended up using it. SharePoint was a complete waste of time. In fact, everyone on my team, quite honestly, just used email instead.

Q: So how did the entire company use SharePoint?

A: As an extranet. Hundreds of departments had their on “mini” extranet. Their problems were the same; no one could find anything, the search feature was pretty awful, and people were going back to using email. PowerPoint files still required email anyway. From the top management down, everyone was required to use SharePoint, but everyone found a workaround.

Q: When it came to sharing files—documents, images, videos, this sort of thing—with clients and outside agencies, how did that work?

A: It was done almost entirely through email. No version control, so it was hard to know if items had been approved and were actually ready to share with executives or clients. There were countless client gaffs—missing information and the wrong versions being sent. A few teams used Google Docs, but it’s very unsecure. And it’s not automated enough for everyone involved to know whether or not a document had been updated.

Q: Any outside clients use SharePoint?

A: Yes, their largest client uses SharePoint. But the VPN didn’t always work, so they didn’t always use SharePoint either.

Q: Did they use email instead?

A: Yes, all the time.

Q: Besides email, what did you and everyone you worked with do “behind the scenes” to get work done?

A: We used Dropbox instead. It didn’t require a VPN, but there are huge security issues. It was all very “hush, hush”. No one would talk about it, because we didn’t want to get in trouble.