Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Is Sharepoint a collaboration platform or not?

Of late I have been working a lot with Sharepoint 2003 and Wikis. Amongst all this what has been pre-occupying my thought has been the question of how to leverage a community to build a knowledge base that will be valuable and, like wikipedia, fuels its own growth.
Last week in my Corporate 2.0 post I found myself questioning whether Sharepoint is really a collaboration platform. The more I work with the product the more I keep asking this question. May be it is down to how Sharepoint is being implemented. It could be that traditional IT departments are implementing Sharepoint with old style governance and control structures, pre-defined site templates and controlled access. In this environment it is hard for Sharepoint to demonstrate an emergent structure - something that Andrew McAfee points to as a critical trends in Enterprise 2.0
When Sharepoint's structure gets pre-defined along traditional lines. The result is one step up from a shared file server. A platform offering lightweight document management capabilities and list management functions.
So, if you are looking to implement a wiki as a means to compile a knowledge base follow these tips:
  1. Keep security simple
  2. Fight to keep the wiki open to all 
  3. Provide some signposts but let the structure and content emerge
  4. Moderate - not for censorship purposes but instead to organize and make information easier to find - just like a good gardener
I was also reading Michael Idinopulos's Transparent Office blog. His advice should be taken very seriously. It is so "spot on." His three best practices in creating a knowledge base are:
  1. Structure by topic, not by organization
  2. Lead with what you want, not what you have
  3. Link, link, link
Do you have other best practices that are worth sharing? Let me know!