I [me as in “an ECM consultant”] think we all have had some level of exposure to an IT person of any calibre whom has come to us and said “Oh, I’ve installed SharePoint or WSS or whatever they seem to call it”. So, once installed, what happens now?  Most people would have you think that almost all SharePoint projects starting out as a product that some random IT person, managing some companies infrastructure, installed because it looked good and there were fancy buttons, and they could upload stuff, etc are deemed to fail due to the lack of a Knowledge Manager or that said IT person does not understand content management or 1 of several disciplines out there that falls under the ECM or as we now know it Enterprise Information Management umbrella. (Isn’t it interesting how, every few years, those big companies come up with another “sexy” way of describing information)

There are sooo many articles:

http://www.cleverworkarounds.com/2008/04/11/why-do-sharepoint-projects-fail-part-1/

http://www.sharepointjoel.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=23 interesting take on the article above.

They all seem to refer to the same problem. You need to think about what you want to achieve, what the goal is and why you want this. Does it make sense to spend the time/effort to do this? Will it improve productivity? Does it save/make the company money?

I am not going to elaborate on the ins and outs of how to best structure your content or how quick wins vs. a proper KM framework goes hand in hand or that there should be a Business Owner to drive business solutions and not have IT drive it.

Let me propose a simple hypothesis; when you go out and purchase a car, house, clothes, and such things, do you not do any research? Surely you don’t go out and buy a house in a gang infested suburb, or buy a car from a shoddy dealer or take fashion advice from some person who dresses like a nerd. So why would you try and implement a knowledge management platform just because you know how to install the product??

In conclusion, I suppose this is a plea to all those IT managers, engineers, support consultants, technicians out there. Go ahead, install the product, but understand why, speak to people about it, check out what the vendor says, invest some time in user groups, explore the scenario’s its used in, call up a company that provides consultants and get someone to come out and give you a better idea of what you are going to get yourself into. At the end of the day, if the product is not positioned correctly, or the reason for it not understood correctly, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you apply to it, the project will fail.