Why SharePoint Professionals Are So Bad

Someone asked on Facebook:

“SharePoint Peeps. (primarily consulting) I have been doing an increasing number of interactions with the trusted SharePoint admin at a variety of customers. Maybe I am just being negative but. I am seeing a disturbing trend of a lack of real “expertise” in this arena. Is this just me, or are you seeing the same thing? Are you out there with these customer SharePoint folks thinking wow these people have it together or are you walking away thinking “who ties these peoples shoelaces for them?” or somewhere in between?”

Here’s my response and rant.

I’m still not sure you’re really serious about your question, but in case you are, as someone who has been actively engaged in the training space of SharePoint for a number of years, including building a university solely dedicated to SharePoint with a bachelor level track in training SP admins, let me just say this in as plain text as possible:

The average SharePoint professional, whether developer or administrator, is so poor at their job that, if their skill levels were applied to other areas, such as hairdressing or fixing your car, you would run away and live like a hippie for the rest of your life.

“Screw the do, I’m walking home”

The fact that SharePoint even functions to some extent is a credit to Microsoft’s development skill, not those who run or build on it. Sure, it has issues with the code base, but it’s a very complex animal and even getting an animal to walk, much less do all the tricks that SharePoint can do, is incredibly difficult.

Sadly, Microsoft took that skill and hid it away in the latest versions so SharePoint hasn’t really evolved. Like a dog, they took SharePoint behind the shed and shot it. They then brought back the skin saying “Look, SharePoint isn’t dead, it has just evolved into this nice rug”. Then they claim that they did this because everyone wants rugs.

Back to your question, keeping up with SharePoint is a full-time job and then some. Paradoxically, that is because SharePoint was never allowed to mature before it was replaced with a new version and the marketing department (including its field operatives, the MVPs) started focusing solely on “the new way to pet Lassie”.

Of course, people need to eat, and as such, they tend to do what their bosses tell them to do. Those bosses are people too, and people have an innate tendency to believe everyone else knows more than they do. As such, when the marketing department says “Everyone needs rugs, we’re now a rug company” then those bosses dutifully tells their employees to start shooting every dog they see.

So, SharePoint admins and devs, who want to eat, start shooting dogs and turning them into rugs, which initially are really poor rugs because nobody has any idea what a dog rug should look like. Developers have to learn tanning, and admins have to turn from caring and nurturing dogs to being interior designers.

However, as they get a bit of experience and start creating beautiful rugs with nice tints of color and practical shapes, Microsoft brings out a new strategy. The trend now is hardwood floors and nobody wants rugs anymore. In fact, it was a really bad idea in the first place.

Now, this happens at such a pace that by the time everyone starts to learn how to shoot dogs and turn them into rugs, there’s a new fad coming. Because it requires extensive investments in learning, usually done at the employee’s private time or at the cost of quality of their work or life, the employees get increasingly de-motivated. “SharePoint is hard” and “SharePoint sucks”, not because it actually is hard or sucks (c’mon, you have to spend a couple of weeks training to get a job; how hard can that be?) but because they’re constantly told to retrain to cater to the latest and greatest flimsical fad.

So, yes, you’re right. SharePoint admins suck. SharePoint developers suck. I’ve even worked closely with those considered the best in the business for years, and you’d be scared shitless at how little many of them actually know outside a laser focused area.

It’s not their fault, though. It is a fundamental flaw in how SharePoint is sold and how Microsoft promotes its strategy, as if SharePoint is indeed the core business of all its users and thus warrants the massive investments in training that it requires.

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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 SharePoint Professionals Are So Bad”

  1. In Malaysia, if you want your company to win the award for being the “most innovative company” and enjoy its privileges (i.e. grants, funding & etc…) you use a SharePoint portal to validate your claims so that you can win the million $ prize money.
    Also, if you want to drive and nurture the growth of entire ICT industry, you plan, approve and monitor the progress of every programs/projects using SP.
    In Australia, if you want to manage all kinds of licensing and management from fire arms, dangerous chemicals, endangered species, you would use SP.
    In Singapore, if you want to “add healthy years to life” for providing a preventative healthcare portal that surveys, screens and combine health data so that you can gain an holistic view of a citizen, you would use SP.
    Therefore, to say that SP professionals sucks – it is all depends on your perspective, right?

  2. I am a manager who has SharePoint developers and admins and you just nailed the SharePoint experience. I wish it did not take so much time, money and personal pain to get to this point! We are now starting to move away from SharePoint but there is so much process ‘hacked’ together that this is a painful task in itself. I will never forget the SharePoint experience and always keep it in mind when working with all Microsoft products now. That is, I am paranoid and much more skeptical about anything Microsoft says – especially Azure, .NET, Windows and Office.

  3. A lot of developers make the mistake that they have to code everything instead of really learning the volume and depth of this platform. That is number 1 mistake – discipline and patience.

    Sharepoint is extremely effective WHEN used correctly.

    I have a seen a team of Developers nearly 5 to 7x the staffing size produce 1/20th the output costing corporations more money, losing outsourcing knowledge and having to call a developer every time the need a change costing corporations ALOT of money.

    Sharepoint definitely has a place for expedited and accurate business processing at a much lower level of ROI.

    It all depends on the skill of your staff.

  4. I have worked with SharePoint since 2007 as a developer and done some amount of administration. You’ve nailed it, this article describes my pain exactly. I am trying to get out of SharePoint development. The only problem not one other developer on our team really wants to get into it.

  5. You may be the least educated guy with a blog on the internet. If you had any real experience, you would know that previous versions of Sharepoint were superior to the current load of crap programmed in Pakistan by 19 year olds with 3 months of computer training. It is OBVIOUS to every one that the American programmers that wrote all fo the good code for things like Windows XP Pro that people LOVED are long gone and have been replaced by undereducated newbies like you.

  6. Awesome write-up Bjorn – This is EXACTLY the problem with not only SharePoint, but a few similar products in the CRM/Team Collaboration vein.

    SharePoint is a nice concept, but why all the Rube-Goldberg work? It could be done more effectively with a bit of SQL to manage the content database, some Java/C# or similar for the application, and some competent HTML to display it.

    It’s not only a developer nightmare, it sucks to be a user too; which is obvious from the fact that in both jobs I’ve worked since it was released, it eventually fell into disuse in favor of the more tried and much simpler email or file-share method of collaborating.

  7. The problem is that SharePoint is marketed to achieve an aim that rests in a core flaw in software design: End users don’t really know what they want. The THINK they want content management. And, if that were true, SharePoint might be a good (albeit unnecessarily expensive) option. But, users typically don’t just want content management. They want content management, pretty bells and whistles, the ability to print counterfeit money and the ability to order a pizza with their car horns. Unfortunately, they don’t know that until after they’ve run their credit card and realize they don’t know what they’re doing. That’s when they dump it off on their IT department who 1) Doesn’t know anything about SharePoint because they’re real developers who are trained in real development frameworks like Ruby or .Net, and 2) Aren’t interested in learning SharePoint because… well, they’re real developers who are trained in real development frameworks like Ruby or .Net. If the end user (that is, the business owner) had consulted with their IT department, they may have been deterred from buying into SharePoint to begin with. Enter the so-called “SharePoint developer;” a special developer that comes with a pretty hefty premium because he specializes in a niche skill set that other developers don’t have, because other developers know that selling yourself to SharePoint might be lucrative now, but in the long run, it’s professional suicide.

    SharePoint is a curse upon your house. Implementing SharePoint into your organization and then passing it onto your IT team to manage is like inviting a sex offender to live in your house and then expecting your children to play nice with him.

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