SPTechWeb reported that 40% of companies say they are still using SharePoint versions that predate SharePoint 2010. This number, retrieved from a survey during the 2013 SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, came from asking 125 SharePoint professionals, so it’s not just left-behind, back-alley organizations that had their say.
Are you surprised to hear that so many use older versions of SharePoint? I’m not.
Just Say No!
If, like my wife, you don’t really read my blog, you may not know that this attitude makes perfect business sense. After all, if you look at the average Twitter feed from the SharePoint community, it’s all about SharePoint 2013 now. SharePoint 2007 is barely mentioned, and I haven’t heard or seen anything about SharePoint 2003 for a very, very long time.
So why does it make business sense to stick with the older versions? Well, I’ve previously argued that with SharePoint, versions do not really matter. Your business problems do not change when Microsoft decides to push the Release button for the next SharePoint version. In fact, upgrading to a new version means you will get new problems in addition to the ones you already have. It’s not just a good idea to stick to what you already do, it’s a bad idea to try to introduce new problems, interfaces, and ways of performing tasks for employees.
For most employees, you see, SharePoint is about as interesting as the chemical composition of asphalt. It’s just something they use to get their jobs done. When you change how that tool works, it’s a burden on them because they now need to learn a new way of doing what they’ve been doing for years. That burden translates into cost for the organization and unless there are new problems that only a newer version can solve then upgrading isn’t really desirable.
But What About Recruitment?
You may be concerned that you won’t be able to find skilled people that know old versions of SharePoint to maintain and develop your business solutions.
Here’s the thing… You don’t have to and you shouldn’t. Skilled SharePoint professionals know SharePoint, regardless of version. Think about it, would you hire a driver that knew how to drive one model car only? Would you hire a baker that could only work with yeast of a certain brand? How about a carpenter that only knew how to drive nails into the wall with a specific brand hammer? On a more technical level, would you hire a programmer that knew how to work in C# 2.0 only?
Why would you hire a SharePoint professional who knew how to work with one version of SharePoint only?
These people are tool users. They don’t know their tasks without those tools to support them, and down that path lies madness. What happens if you do need to upgrade for some reason? For someone who knows one version only, their knowledge will be far less valuable. You’ll be stuck having to retrain them on a new version, only to have the same dance again in three years.
True. At some point, the lifecycle of any software program or platform comes to an end when the authors decide they can no longer support the solution. You would definitely need to upgrade then, right?
Wrong. First of all, software that has been around for years is already far more stable than new versions and thus require far less support. SharePoint 2007 has had far longer to iron out any wrinkles, discover any stability issues, and have any security issues exploited than SharePoint 2010. The chance of major and critical issues decrease with age.
As for support in the form of calling Microsoft Professional Services to get them to look at your farm, well, if they won’t pick up, just call someone else. There are, according to Microsoft, hundreds of thousands of SharePoint professionals that would be glad to take your support money.
Just make sure you call those that actually know SharePoint and not just the latest or even a specific version.
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