Consumer Want versus SharePoint Business Requirement
An interesting conversation occurred on Twitter earlier this week that started out life as a discussion around whether or not business end users should actually care about the latest version of SharePoint (SharePoint 2013).
There seemed to be a common consensus that for the participants of that conversation, although they agreed that SharePoint projects shouldn't be driven by technology features, they did feel that the "business" did have a right and an interest to fully understand what the new version of SharePoint could offer them.
At this point the disruptive tweeter in me took over and I vehemently disagreed, because for the most part:
"Show a user a technical feature and it will become their most important business requirement"
It's just human nature and something I'm sure we have all seen in countless projects when we used to (please don’t do this any more) take the users and business stakeholders through the "SharePoint Wheel"...
So what's really going on here then, well on the one hand we have:
Cool new version of the technology, lots of new features, lots of new capabilities and I am sure from what I have seen so far, lots of potential to deliver business value
And on the other hand we have:
Business users and stakeholders that "don't know what they don't know".
Surely we can see that this is a recipe for a tech-led SharePoint project disaster?
(Otherwise known as SharePoint Celery)
Anyway, I digress very subtly from the point.
During this conversation, someone piped up the controversial statement of "...what about Apple?".
Well we all know that Apple is primarily a consumer focussed company (for the moment) and the point they were making was that Apple doesn't really seek to understand "individual consumer wants" in the same way that we would facilitate business requirements. Apple produces awesome "products" that some consumers (well quite a lot actually) choose to purchase and use.
Most people felt that that was like comparing bananas to oranges, two totally different things, but is it I wondered?
To some people this may seem very analogous to delivering a SharePoint solution based solely on great technical features and the hopes of delivering some business value without getting true user requirements?
But Apple isn't blind to consumer requirements, Apple is very, very carefully building products that align to and meet it's vision, it's "why", the difference that Apple wants to make in the world and to an individual or household.
So is there really a difference between "Consumer Want and SharePoint Business Requirement"?
No, I really don't think there is...
You see Apple and other highly successful consumer organisations are creating products that "make a difference" and are aligned to their organisational vision (and your personal values); they evoke emotion, they fill a need and they make a difference (deliver value). This may be at a personal, family, household or global level, but that is exactly what they are striving to achieve.
It's with that same clear vision and strive for measurable outcomes (the difference that the solution will make to the organisation) that IT teams are successfully delivering SharePoint projects (yes some people are!) and that are making a clear and measurable difference to an organisation!
Does that make sense?
Of course, the other way to see this is that unsuccessful consumer organisations are indeed just delivering consumer features without having a clear alignment to a vision, without evoking emotion and delivering no clear value to the consumer… We've all heard or said these words in a supermarket or retail store I am sure: "Why would I buy that, it serves me no purpose!" I'm sure you've all heard the story of Joel Oleson's Robot Barbie which is a classic consumer example.
So I hope you can see that when we are talking about technology, business requirements and new versions, the Apple argument just doesn't hold water.
"Consumer Want and SharePoint Business Requirement" are exactly the same thing and to have happy consumers and happy business users you need to "make a difference".
But coming back to where we started:
"...whether or not business end users should actually care about the latest version of SharePoint (SharePoint 2013)…"
How do we solve this challenge without influencing the business users to think about technology features. Here's the answer, there are to things we need to do:
- Always deliver your business projects focussed solely on measurable business outcomes facilitated from real business users and stakeholders that make a clear difference and support the organisations vision.
- Don't switch off the cool new features / Do implement the latest version of the technology (the users don't need to be made aware of this, no need to have a fanfare)
- Have a clear holistic governance model
Ensure that your solution (delivered in Point 1) and the governance model (Point 3) allows users the flexibility, confidence and empowerment to "play" and experiment with the new features that are available.
Taking this approach you will:
- be able to deliver business focussed solutions that have a clear ROI
- give end users the freedom and flexibility to find emergent ways in order to deliver further business value
- Have a real business reason to play with the cool new features.
In order to really support this way of thinking and evolving the value in the platform we recommend that you:
- Implement a SharePoint Centre of Excellence (SharePoint CofE)
- Create SharePoint Tummelers.
I hope this article was of interest to you, please feel free to comment, tweet and discuss.