SharePoint: the Swiss Army Knife of portals

SharePoint is a fantastically powerful and complex solution that offers more features and bells & whistles than almost any technology platform on the planet. However, it cannot be all things to all people all the time... it works well for somethings like team and document collaboration, and less well for personalization and enterprise content management.

If there's one general theme that many outside observers and experts say of SharePoint, is that it tries to be “everything for everybody.” It is an exceptionally powerful and complex platform, but it is not good for all web or intranet-based scenarios. It is good for a lot of things, but not all things.

SharePoint used to be known as a document management solution; then Microsoft began to refer to it as a portal solution. In recent years, the portal label was dropped in favor of a web development platform; lately Microsoft doesn't apply one label, but sometimes refers to it as a content service platform or a digital workplace solution.

"One common element from all of the discussions is the frustration nearly all of these organization have with their experience with Microsoft SharePoint,” says Thomas Vander Wal, Principal of InfoCloud Solutions, Inc. “The comments are based on those spending one month to a year with the tool (the six month to one year club with tools offer best insight).”

"SharePoint does some things rather well, but it is not a great tool (or even passable tool) for broad social interaction inside enterprise related to the focus of Enterprise 2.0,” adds Thomas. “SharePoint works well for organization prescribed groups that live in hierarchies and are focused on strict processes and defined sign-offs.”


SharePoint is by far and away the hottest enterprise technology in the World today. With a penetration rate of about 50% of all medium to large-scale organizations in the Western World, more than a few experts have analyzed SharePoint and weighed-in with their expert opinions.

SharePoint does a lot of things, but does very few things very well.” - Shawn Shell, Consejo Inc., author of the CMSWatch “The SharePoint Report”

SharePoint is often described as a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.” It has so many features, applications, and complexities that there are few solutions that really compete with the broad range of services that it provides (although IBM WebSphere could be argued as being more complex, with more native services, albeit for a Java environment). However, none of its core services – document management, content management, search, portal, collaboration, business intelligence – are market leaders by themselves, and in fact are low to mid-tier solutions by themselves. But these services aren't individual offerings, they are all included in SharePoint. There isn't a CMS that can compete; and only IBM WebSphere, a Java-based solution, can compete at the portal - web development platform level with the type of functionality and robustness of services that SharePoint offers.

The software's Swiss Army knife approach helps companies create more useful intranets, set up document sharing, offer blogs and wikis, and build a richer online company directory. But SharePoint's feature sprawl can be part of the problem.” - Information Week columnist Nicolas Hoover

It is very easy to deploy SharePoint without customization; and its even easier for different teams, departments, divisions, and work groups (really, any employee) to nearly instantly create their own sites, sub-sites, document libraries, web parts, etc. So easy in fact that if there are not proper controls, SharePoint can quickly expand and “sprawl” across an organization creating information chaos and silos that SharePoint was supposed to fix, not exacerbate.


  While there are hundreds of features, tools & templates in SharePoint, here is a summary review of three key features that get a lot of attention:

  • My Profile (My Site using Devle)

  • Navigation & Presentation

  • Search

  • Content management

  • Social networking (using Yammer, Teams, and Skype)

  • Document management

Read more about the latest version, SharePoint 2016 and Office 365.


For more information on implementing or planning for SharePoint (MOSS 2007), please see The SharePoint (MOSS) Plan or contact us directly.