SharePoint and its capabilities was great to learn about all the potential benefits of the software. However, I did want to share my real-world experience as a reminder to always ground higher-level conversations with the challenges of actual successful implementation.
I have several years of experience with SharePoint 2007 and 2010 while working at the nonprofit Citizen Schools. SharePoint is an enterprise-grade product, and through their partnership with Microsoft, Citizen Schools was able to get SharePoint for free. Looking at the glossy marketing material for the product, it looked like a great solution for our organization's intranet needs. Soon after launching SharePoint, however, we realized how severely we underestimated the need to invest in proper configuration of the software itself. After a few years of use, SharePoint was a disorganized mess of documents and pages with half-working features, and some features not working at all. (The intranet was referred to as "WOWspace", the WOW being a reference to an element of our youth program. The graphic posted with this blog entry was made as a tongue-in-cheek joke about the state of the SharePoint intranet system.)
The takeaway I learned here was simple enough: successful implementation of a business collaboration platform must include the cost of the product, the cost of configuration, and the cost of ongoing support. This may feel like common sense, but what I think catches most people off-guard is the sheer scale of potential impact from poor setup and support: A half-baked launch of a new system is easily worse than no new system at all!