Why I am Leaving SharePoint and Why You Should Consider It Too

It’s no big secret that over the previous months, I’ve done less and less SharePoint related work. That is because I’m leaving SharePoint as a career and I’m here to tell you why.

I’d like to start, however, by saying what are not the reasons I’m leaving SharePoint.

It’s Not About SharePoint

I’ve had heated debates and flame wars with people who say that I’m leaving because SharePoint is such a shoddy product.

SharePoint is a great platform. The way it enables businesses to build solutions to give them advantages quickly is amazing. I’ve seen people build solutions in an hour that has saved businesses days or weeks of work. I’ve seen companies utilize SharePoint to see completely new business areas and make a killing over their competitors. I’ve seen and had clients send me gifts for saving employees and jobs.

So no, SharePoint isn’t a bad platform. It is an awesome platform.

It’s Not About the Community

The SharePoint community is dwindling and has been for years. I’d be tempted to blame it all on Twitter buying up Tweetdeck because after Tweetdeck was nerfed to promote the silly web client, the once vibrant Twitter conversations in the community has gone away.

However, the community still exists. It’s far more fractured now, spanning a range of sites including, but not limited, to Twitter, Faceboook, Yammer, and various web sites and other platforms.

I once wrote that community isn’t defined by technology but by people. The SharePoint people that comprises the community are still there. They’re just a lot harder to find and it’s more difficult to keep up with what’s going on now that there are 10+ newsfeeds to follow.

It Is About the Future

SharePoint is dying, and don’t give me that “it’s not dying, it’s turning into something else” because that’s the same as saying that Michael Jackson isn’t dead, he’s just turned into daisy fertilizer.

Sure, SharePoint is turning into something else, which means that there’s a new way of solving every problem, using a new set of tools, in a completely new game. That’s fine, but it’s not SharePoint anymore.

As a SharePoint professional, you’re asked to relearn everything you know, basically taking your productive skill set back to zero and start building again. You’ve learned plenty of transferable skills, but you can also transfer those skills anywhere you want.

The new paradigm of SharePoint isn’t SharePoint anymore. It’s no longer about using technology creatively to gain a competitive advantage, it is about getting the latest commodity that everyone else has too.

Commodities can never be a competitive advantage.

So ask yourself this: You have a completely blank slate in front of you. Everything you know is wiped clean. You need to spend the next two-three years at building a new skill set.

What is it about the coming paradigm of SharePoint that makes you want to start writing “My new career as a SharePoint something” on that blank slate?

The technology certainly isn’t unique anymore. There are five dozen alternatives to virtually any part of the new SharePoint now, and even Microsoft encourages you to pull in components from varying sources when you want to build something.

Is it brand loyalty? Are you really willing to bet the next years of your future just to remain loyal to a brand that has a decade long track record of changing just as you gain any reasonable amount of proficiency? If so, you’re certifiably insane and you can stop reading right now.

It’s About Fun

The main reason I’m leaving SharePoint, however, is that it’s no longer fun. Part of the challenge of being a SharePoint developer is overcoming adversity and finding creative solutions to problems using an at times limited set of tools in innovative ways.

That was just the first step. What is utterly fascinating with SharePoint is that you can then take those skills and be incredibly valuable almost anywhere you go. Even when you’re charging your clients hundreds of dollars per hour, you still produce more value than that, at least if you know your trade.

So it’s not just a personally interesting challenge, it is a profitable one for all parties involved.

That is no longer going to be the case. SharePoint hasn’t evolved in the areas that matter so after many years, I’ve seen and solved virtually every problem there is.

When I now get a request for work, I can usually compose the solution entirely using code I’ve already built. I can take an existing taxonomy description and turn it into a fully content type enabled SharePoint structure in minutes, maybe an hour. I have so many workflow templates and have done event receivers so many times, I can probably fix your business process in a day, including writing out the training documentation.

It’s become a matter of producing rather than creating. I’ve become an assembly line worker rather than a developer. I no longer need to think and I have great fun thinking.

So, What Now?

I’m deeply fascinated by many things. I’ve already worked for a few months in the startup community both to learn and to offer insights from my experience as an investor and as an entrepreneur. Maybe I’ll pursue a career helping startups succeed.

I’ve also wanted for decades to get into game development. Over the previous months, I’ve built a platform for interactive story telling called Wizh. It’s in closed beta now and I work on it as much as I can because it brings back the fun.

Wizh is built on top of an interactive story engine called, creatively enough, ISENG, and I see huge potential in using ISENG in everything from story driven games, interactive fiction, and other entertainment areas, but also as an engine powering training, education, user experience testing, and more.

ISENG is to games and entertainment what SharePoint workflows are to business processes, to put it into language my SharePoint savvy audience can understand.

I’ve kept up with my students over the years but lately have seen that most of them want to learn things outside of SharePoint so I’ll probably refocus my mentoring efforts into a broader area of development.

I’ll probably also offer the odd opinion piece on SharePoint, but it won’t be my career anymore. This blog will retain it’s existing content but I’ll start adding other pieces of writing that interest me. If you want to tag along, you’re more than welcome.

Of course, if you have a great idea or need an experienced developer, entrepreneur, and architect, I’m all ears and would love to hear your thoughts. Maybe you’d like to partner with us in developing Wizh? We are always looking for interesting ideas, especially if you can help us fund the development.

That’s it. I’m done. .b has left the building. Talk again on the outside.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

13 thoughts on “Why I am Leaving SharePoint and Why You Should Consider It Too”

  1. It’s sad to see you go.

    But your reasons are understandable. I’m not in your position. I don’t know the solution on SharePoint to every business problem.

    The SP landscape is changing. SP evolves to become a platform rather than a OOTB solution collection with extra interfaces for developers.

    I’m not sure that this is the right direction for MS and for SharePoint. But I’m happy to tell you that this “open minded” approach by Microsoft has given me plenty of opportunities to be on the SP platform for many many years to come.

    … even it is the complete opposite for you.

    Thanks again for all the great content Björn.

    1. In reality, I already did stop, Marc. It’s been some interesting years but it no longer is. Heck, I haven’t even done my usual “Oh, here are all the details on the next version of SharePoint” even though it’s already out.

  2. The reasons you gave are developer reasons, and matters of personal challenge. Your post title implores me to leave SharePoint, too, but I didn’t see a compelling reason, probably because I’m not a developer. Point being, I am an IT consultant and I see the platform expanding with fractal complexity between on prem and cloud hosting, each iteration providing greater value, not less. There’s plenty to keep ME coming back. If SharePoint moves entirely to the cloud I’ll probably lose my interest as well, but I don’t know that that’s ever going to happen.

    Anyway, I wish you good luck in your future projects, whatever platform you choose. I’ve enjoyed reading your insights over the years. Keep writing!

  3. Hi Bjørn,

    I really enjoyed reading your article. SharePoint people tend to have an etiquette of be excited about SharePoint (It is different when you talk to them personally). I really like your sincere attitude on your blog. I am looking forward to seeing what you’ll be doing in future. I wish you all luck in your new projects. Or should Wizh be a provider hosted app compatible with SP on prem and O365? 😀

    Venlig hilsen
    Anatoly

    1. Hah, I can pretty firmly state that Wizh will not run on SharePoint in any foreseeable future 🙂 ISENG, on the other hand, could be the engine behind a lot of things, for example a story based workflow. Imagine building a meeting summary based on actual events by simply clicking buttons rather than a complex task-driven workflow as would be your options today?

  4. I’m with ya, and have already made the jump into DevOps. I’ve seen an interesting trend of attrition and where people are going. And it’s just a new phase in tech. It relates more to SharePoint On-Prem over O365. Greg the reason is in general the adoption of on-prem SharePoint is diminishing rapidly.

  5. Hi Bjorn,

    Just read this and have to say I am quite saddened. Not because of your decision to move away from SharePoint, but because I too have reached my interest peek with SharePoint as a “SharePoint Consultant” – only in the past week actually. Initially I liked the challenge (5+ years) and like you say had become very brand loyal and blinkered to many other things going on. I was almost desperate to believe in SharePoint to justify my existence as a specialist developer in some ways. I have been speaking to a number of companies in the UK and Eire and the feedback I get is SharePoint is essentially the white elephant in the room they no longer want to invest in. The work I am currently getting is to fix problems, not provide enhancements. This is mainly due to the poor strategic approach they have taken with SharePoint and due to lack of training and understanding their employees have.
    I am now concentrating back on Java/Javascript, MVC, HTML5 and more interestingly using Google Speech to power apps and Quintus for the dip-in-Dip-out game development. I think the next big thing for IT Consultants to look at is teaching young people. I’m not talking about 10+ year olds. I’m talking about using the likes of “Scratch” to get kids engaged in Technology from an early age, 5+. I still have my Sharepoint Online Site I am setting up, but after that I’m outta dodge.

    Keep the Faith.

    John.

  6. Yes actually I checked the blog to see if you have done the analysis on the documentation for the new version of SharePoint. Could it be something you saw (or rather didn’t see) that made you lose your interest?

    1. I don’t understand the need to look for other explanations than the one I give you. If you don’t trust me to be honest in what I’m writing, why are you trusting what I’m writing.

      But no, I gave you the reasons I’m leaving SharePoint and elaborated as much as I think is required. I have no hidden agendas.

      .b

  7. Hi Bjorn,

    Now that you’ve hung up your SharePoint hat, I have just discovered you for the first time! I tried to click on the 10-minutes-for-5-bucks link but it wouldn’t resolve to any available time slots. Perhaps this article is why?

    I’m at an interesting juncture in my career. As a SharePoint power-user (but they think I’m a developer here) I’ve been continually frustrated by change after change that indeed causes me to go back to the drawing board each time. I feel like the quadriiplegic in the Monty Python skit who insists his severed limbs are “only a flesh wound.” Really? I keep asking myself. Only a flesh wound? In my current search for other work I’ve found myself inundated with calls from ravenous head-hunters and HR reps who are desperate to find qualified SharePoint developers. I get these calls because my resume’ contains the word “SharePoint,” and not because it cites any significant experience (I only have 3 years). In the last 3 years we’ve gone from 2007 to 2010 to 2013 and each time I’m left breathless in the wake. How to recover and move on in my career?

    So, your article is extremely helpful and timely for me. Perhaps I will instead spread out into directions that do not depend on the success of SharePoint, even if people want to throw money at the first person they deem remotely qualified…

    I thank you for your timely and well-articulated commentary.
    Kay

    1. Kay,

      The timeslots are when I’m available. Time zones can be a bitch, though. It’s always 2 AM somewhere.

      As for moving on, it greatly depends on your background, but like any profession, switching careers is a huge lift. I’m doing it right now, and as much as I’m still doing development, it takes time and effort to build the skills in the area where I want to work.

      .b

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