Survey Finds SharePoint Meets IT, Business Needs

Results surprised even Forrester Research, the survey's creators.

SharePoint has been doing a good job at meeting IT and business management expectations in organizations according to results of a Forrester Research survey.

The survey, conducted in July, questioned "510 IT decision-makers involved with evaluating, specifying, or administering SharePoint."  Of those in IT, 79 percent said that SharePoint meets their expectations; 21 percent gave the solution a negative reply. Seventy-three percent said SharePoint had met business management expectations, 27 percent said it wasn't.

Given that SharePoint has been described as a multipurpose black box in terms of its use, the positive results surprised even the Forrester researchers. The software is regarded as requiring high IT expertise to set up and manage.

Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst, presented the results when he spoke on Tuesday at a panel session (The Forrester Survey: Best Practices in SharePoint 2010 Adoption and Migration) at the Microsoft SharePoint 2011 Conference being held this week in Anaheim, Calif. Koplowitz and his colleague John Rymer had developed the survey; they were looking for a way to drill down into how organizations were using SharePoint because "we didn't have a strong longitudinal view about what people were doing with SharePoint," Koplowitz said. In that respect, this survey was a first for Forrester.

Most (65 percent) survey respondents said they are using SharePoint 2007, but use of SharePoint 2010 also was high at 57 percent. Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Foundation Services were used by 25 percent of respondents; 11 percent use SharePoint Portal Server 2003. On the online side, nine percent used SharePoint via Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS), while four percent used it via Office 365.

BPOS, which uses a hosted version of SharePoint 2007, is currently being discontinued as Microsoft's customers transition to Office 365, a hosting service that uses the newer technologies represented by Microsoft's current SharePoint 2010 flagship product.

The survey found that 81 percent had deployed SharePoint on premises in a data center. The heavy on-premises use of SharePoint was "not a surprise," according to Koplowitz. Most of the respondents (42 percent) had deployed on premises before they considered the cloud-based offerings to be an option.

Organizations deployed SharePoint to enable collaboration, social networking, content management, enterprise search, business intelligence, sites (intranets and portals), Web content management, and custom composite apps integration (WebParts). Forrester's survey drilled down into these areas. According to a chart shown at the conference, users seemed most satisfied (56 percent) with collaboration. They seemed most dissatisfied (22 percent) with search. Forth-seven percent said that they didn't plan to use SharePoint for Web content management. Forrester's report, when published, will likely provide greater detail about how SharePoint was used.

IT was mostly slowed down by technical issues in deploying SharePoint, according to 59 percent of respondents. Another stumbling block was a lack of governance, according to 41 percent. The lack of access to IT skills needed to deploy SharePoint was rated lower as an issue, with 28 percent of respondents seeing it as a problem. However, during audience participation, one anecdotal opinion was that it was harder to find expertise in SharePoint beyond the middle tier.

The SharePoint 2011 Conference was sold out and the vendor floor was well attended while I was there. It's clear that Microsoft has strong partner support for the product. On that note, the Forrester survey found that 44 percent planned to tap third-party software vendor products for use with SharePoint, while 38 percent said that they went to third parties after finding that SharePoint didn't have what they needed out of the box.

The top third-party software vendors utilized for SharePoint, according to the numbers in Forrester's survey, were as follows:

  • Nintex for workflow
  • Bamboo for WebParts
  • AvePoint for administration
  • NewsGator for social networking
  • Axceler for administration
  • K2 for workflow
  • Kwizcom for WebParts
  • Quest for administration
  • Metalogix for content management and
  • Yammer for social networking

Forrester is still compiling interviews for this report, which is not yet available. The report will contain advice to SharePoint implementers. Koplowitz provided a preview of a few key recommendations, such as starting out by assessing SharePoint from a functional perspective and avoiding overlap with existing solutions. He strongly emphasized ensuring organizational readiness, which proved to be a bigger stumbling than expected.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.