“The celery effect” and other lessons learned from The SharePoint Governance Manifesto

sharepointgovernancemanifestoA few weeks ago I read Ant Clay’s new e-book The SharePoint Governance Manifesto. The book takes a refreshingly honest look at the failure rate of SharePoint projects. On the surface, it appears many of these failures are caused by ineffective governance, antiquated project staffing models and a myopic focus on SharePoint’s technical features. If you peel all that aside, though, you’ll find the crux of the issue–that we (as practitioners) often fail to tie SharePoint firmly to our business goals. As Clay writes, “we need to be stating projects in terms of ‘what difference will this make’ to our employees and more importantly to our organisation. If we can’t define that, then we shouldn’t be doing the project.”

Christian Buckley echoed this sentiment in his recent blog post Aligning SharePoint to Your Business Goals. To quote Christian and Dan Holme, “The Business Matters. SharePoint doesn’t matter.”

For many, this focus on business value–and the resulting need to quantify or qualify SharePoint’s contribution to the bottom line–is daunting. We’re not sure how to tie SharePoint’s features to our broader business goals, so we proceed with implementing SharePoint as a software project.

The key is to think differently about SharePoint from the start. So instead of focusing on SharePoint’s features or its internal infrastructure, we should be identifying ways SharePoint can help us increase our speed-to-market or enable our employees to share information more easily. Business goals and business needs must take center stage. After all, SharePoint is merely a tool to enable business success. So if you have a weak (or non-existent) return on investment (ROI) for SharePoint, you’re behind the times.

??????Clay goes one step farther in The SharePoint Governance Manifesto, likening SharePoint projects to eating celery. A stalk of celery is roughly 8 calories. The physical effort required to pick up, eat and digest a stalk of celery burns 14 calories. Do the math and you find that celery has a net negative caloric effect.

Many SharePoint projects have the same net negative effect. If you compare their “real costs” (including costs for infrastructure, licensing, staff time, training resources, etc.) to the demonstrable business value the projects generate, many projects return a negative ROI. As Clay states, “implementing SharePoint in an inappropriate way, without proper governance and without aligning it to business needs and vision, is the same as eating celery; it’s no good, and there’s no value in it.”

Want to know more about Clay’s model for SharePoint governance? Buy The SharePoint Governance Manifesto at http://www.soulsailorconsulting.com/spgovmanifesto/. For help quantifying or qualifying the ROI for your SharePoint projects, check out my SlideShare presentation DeMystifying ROI for SharePoint.

And remember: SharePoint shouldn’t be a diet plan. So stop dieting and do SharePoint for your businesses’ sake.


  1. Great post. I don’t think there is a company out there that has SharePoint in the business plan. SharePoint is simply one tool that may be used to acheive the company’s goals. Using SharePoint is never the goal of the company.

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