Lack of SharePoint professionals? Or lack of Simplicity…

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The power of focus Back in January Oscar Trimboli started a great discussion on whether there was a lack of SharePoint developers in Australia. It’s a good post, and there’s a ton of value in reading the comments –  you’ll hear the thoughts of some of Australia’s best SharePoint minds.

As is the case with any technology on a fast growth adoption ride, there’s always going to be a supply versus demand equilibrium to be sorted. In SharePoint’s case, this coupled with the enormous breadth of the product, means that getting your hands on a good SharePoint hire (be they developer, admin or architect) is getting harder. As most of the comments on the post point out, there’s plenty of entry level SharePoint developers around – the difficulty is in finding experience and excellence.

So Oscar’s question: Is there a shortage of SharePoint professionals in Australia?
Answer: No

But is there a shortage of good SharePoint professionals in Australia?
Answer: Yes.
Just as there is with BizTalk, UC,  CRM and other implementations. And just as there was with SAP, Oracle and Seibel (now part of Oracle) implementations a decade ago. The train-wreck projects are plentiful, the number of companies being burnt is growing and the cost of experienced developers increasing.

Simplicity

Eventually the cycle turns round though, perhaps as customer expectations become more realistic (and consulting companies promises more honest), and the supply versus demand balances out. Sometimes it’s new tools that make previously difficult processes easier (eg deployment, security administration, integration with other platforms).

Usually however, it’s when everyone starts focusing on simplicity again.

SharePoint’s capability (and thus complexity) is way out of line with most customers’ needs. They know it’s the solution/technology they want to use, but figuring out how and what to implement can be overwhelming. Consultants and developers do their best to provide guidance, but sometimes they have to spread themselves thin over too many areas, in a desperate attempt to provide value to their clients. Or perhaps bring in another few developers to cover the requirements fully… It’s the main reason many of those SAP projects went out of control (and out of business) in the 90s, and it’s been happening all over again these past 3 years.

I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of 37signals, but there’s plenty they get right when it comes to delivering just the essentials. Atlassian, Fog Creek and many others seem to have cottoned on to this – and they’re used by huge enterprises (ie simple software and enterprise adoption aren’t mutually exclusive!). In contrast, sometimes the Microsoft mentality seems to be: If it’s an enterprise tool it needs to be complex. But perhaps I’m just repeating myself.

With SharePoint 2010 about to be released, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft’s billion dollar baby continues to grow, or whether there’s a correction coming. My guess is that SharePoint upgrades to 2010 will be slow and considered (regardless of economic conditions) and that the growth will be in the simpler SharePoint Foundation implementations – even in Enterprises.

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I'm the co-host of HubShots and the CEO of XEN - helping mid-large B2B companies with their digital marketing and lead generation.

Craig Bailey

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