I’ve said this before, in various ways. But sometimes, the simple analogies seem to work the best: if you think of SharePoint, think of it as a Swiss Army Knife.
That sounds great, doesn’t it? It’s like the multi-tool of content technologies. Imagine a major vendor and integrators turning up at dinner to explain how great their Swiss Army Knife is for any purpose, and yes, it’s excellent to carve your food with, too. Why go with just a knife, if you can have a whole range of additional functionality in one system?
The idea is appealing: instead of picking and maintaining all of these different implements, why not just have an all-in-one? The upkeep would be a lot easier than having a whole toolbox of various provenance. The magic word here is synergy. “The latest generation of the world famous original continues the virtues of yesterday, while nevertheless still meeting the demands of today with regard to functionality, user friendliness and quality.” That’s Victorinox’ description, not Microsoft’s.
But don’t forget the drawbacks in that analogy. In recent consulting engagements, I’ve been asked about SharePoint’s suitability for web content management or enterprise search. As it turns out, Microsoft’s Swiss Army Knife isn’t necessarily the best system to use, especially if you’re having soup. Or a stew. The synergy is pretty much gone if the tool isn’t well suited to its main purposes. And it’ll leave you with a lot of nice-to-have but possibly useless extras — the tweezers, saw, and screwdrivers of the more expensive version will probably go unused at a dinner party.
If you’re considering SharePoint, this Swiss Army Knife may, on the surface, be a great option. But depending on your scenarios, you might be better off with a spoon, a Craftsman box of professional tools, or a Leatherman Multi-Tool. Needless to say, that’s not really something for an impulse buy — but we can help you find the right tool for the job.
This post was previously published on the blog of my former employer, the Real Story Group, an industry analyst firm specializing in vendor neutral reviews and advice.