SharePoint Survey Results

Many thanks to everybody who took the time to fill out the Big SharePoint Survey. The results have been very interesting. I’m going to go through them now and discuss them. Please note these are the personal opinions of Nick Swan – and by putting them here I hope you’ll take the results and come to your own conclusions on your own blog or whatever. Please feel free to use the results and graph images in your own blog posts and presentations – a link back would be appreciated though.

If you’d like to hear an audio discussion of these results make sure you listen to the SharePoint Podshow number 15.

So – on with the discussions. Firstly we had 256 people complete the survey – a good number. Every question was optional so you could skip something if you wanted to. The first couple of question were for name and email address – no particular reason for asking these – don’t worry we won’t spam you! 🙂 So onto question 3.

3. What type of organization are you?


(click the images for a larger view)

When the survey first started a high number of completions were by SharePoint consultancies which I thought would skew the results from the other questions. Thankfully over time more people from organizations where IT or consultancy around SharePoint was not their primary business answered which will give a more balanced picture. Looking through the email addresses of people the industries people are coming from are as varied as you can imagine. Good news generally – but it makes the sales and marketing that little bit harder.

4. How large is your organization


The smaller numbers, below 50, we can probably discount as being lone contractors, training companies and product vendors. It is the larger numbers that we can get the most information from as they are likely to be using many different aspects of SharePoint and in a more rigourous and (perhaps) structured fashion. It’s great to see a high number of medium to large organizations deploying SharePoint.

5. What stage are you at with SharePoint?


It is crazy to think that SharePoint 2007 has now been out for 2 and a bit years. Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun! With this time period realized it is no wonder that so many deployments are completed and organizations consider themselves seasoned users. If you do add together the Evaluating, Pilot and Implementing answers however that does represent a significant percentage so there is definitely encouragement for people who get involved in the implementation side. And of course these Seasoned Users may not be making use of the whole MOSS pie. Document collaboration and search may have been their initial requirements – but now they have BDC and InfoPath available to them they can start to look at how SharePoint can touch other parts of the business.

Of course the type of people who read the SharePoint blogs and have found this survey are already focused on SharePoint and the technology – so it is understandable that Seasoned users is the main group of responses. People who aren’t using or are interested in SharePoint aren’t going to be taking this survey!

6. What role do you play with regards SharePoint?


The End User category we expected to be quite low – this is meant as absolutely no offence to end users but I would classify them as people who are in the office 9-5 and are not generally enthusiastic about SharePoint. They may not even know it is SharePoint that they save documents to so I would not expect many to find out about this survey and complete it.

Power users are a different story as they are likely in love with SharePoint and check out all their RSS feeds to SharePoint blogs every morning – we like power users!

Two interesting points about Developers and Administrators

– I expected their to be more Developers than Administrators

– Quite a lot of people take on both the Developer and Administrator role within SharePoint? A dangerous place to be maybe if there are no seperation of concerns (Developers like running with full admin rights and Full CAS trust 🙂 )

Some of the roles we missed off that people added in as others were Architect, Information Architect, Trainer, and General Dogs Body.

7. What areas of SharePoint are you making use of?


I could write reams and reams about the results in this question but I’ll stick to the main points and let others make their own comments or conclusions

– Document collaboration is top and almost a 100%. Obvious really as this is SharePoints bread and butter since day 1. Some people are using SharePoint for stuff other than saving word docs. Perhaps solely as a WCM public facing web site?

– Search comes out 2nd as the most commonly used component. Again this makes sense as a lot of companies will have been using it from previous version of SharePoint. Being able to crawl and index documents not just in SharePoint but also on file systems and exchange public folders is also a new big thing for places just deploying SharePoint. Information and documents turn up all over the place people didn’t expect to find them – and this often does include sensitive information!

– The big surprise from question 7 was that workflow was being used as the third most popular component! Many people thought workflow not being available in SP2003 was a big missing feature but it is crazy to see how it is being adapted in SP2007. As we’ll see later it is not just out of the box approval and SharePoint Designer workflows that are being used – but custom developed Visual Studio workflows. Its great to see many places are streamlining and adapting workflow processes – not only showing huge opportunity for Business Analysts that understand workflow but also Developers.

– wiki’s and blogs both have very similar results. I guess if a company gets the benefit of one, it understands the other!

– out of the 3 components of MOSS 2007 Enterprise Edition – InfoPath Forms Server (InfoPath), Business Data Catalog (BDC), and Excel Services it is interesting that InfoPath has the largest take up. Being able to render Forms in the browser is a great plus, and the adoption of workflows is probably also driving the usage of InfoPath. It is good to see a healthy percentage of answers saying the BDC – especially for us! And with Excel Services being a brand new idea within the release of SP2007 I imagine people will be testing the water with this and start to use more as the features are more understood.

8, Does your organization have a Governance Plan?


A very interesting questions this, with interesting results. We debated this one for quite a while on the PodShow. If you are wondering what a Governance Plan is take a look at this link here:

If you download the Governance Template from the Microsoft link above you’ll probably be overwhelmed. Not every deployment needs every step to be filled out. At the very least though a few key roles need to be defined such as responsibility for backups, site creation policies etc. Will all the organizations that do not have a plan come a cropper in 2 years? They won’t all have problems – but you can be sure some deployments will become a mess of sites and site collections, and people will have backup and restore issues as nobody has taken responsibility to ensure the disaster recovery plan works!

If you understand what a Governance Plan is and why it is important there is definitely an opportunity for you to provide value to many orgs.

We also interviewed Robert Bogue on the SharePoint Podshow and covered Governance at some length. Check out the shows here:

Show 1
Show 2

9, How many (SharePoint) environments do you or your clients generally have running?


Another topical question for some places based on some of the comments left. I can only hope that the places that do not have any development environments with SharePoint running are only using out of the box features otherwise they will be in trouble some day soon! A good number of places do have staging environments which is good – staging is sometimes termed other things such as UAT and Testing which is why a number of comments. Plus points have to be awarded to the person who has to manage this environment:

DEV > SIT (System Integration Testing) > UAT > PROD > Training

The perfect setup for this is out side the scope of this article – but if someone wants to take this subject on as a further blog post please do and leave a comment with a link to it.

10, How have you customized SharePoint?


One for the developers here! Every project sponsor of a SharePoint deployment knows that the look and feel of SharePoint has to be altered! I am being sarcastic here of course – although many organizations do seem to overly customize things just because they now can. MasterPages has of course made this possible and is something developers understand. Of course public facing web sites are a little different – you are allowed to change the look of them as much as you like! 🙂

Web Part development – obviously high. The growth of sites such as netvibes, pageflakes and has helped end users and developers understand the value of web parts and building re-useable components that users can configure.

Workflow – our surprise friend is back again! This is the stat that allowed me to say earlier that people aren’t just using out of the box workflows. I found developing workflows in visual studio one of the toughest development tasks to do with SharePoint due to general dev, testing and deployment issues. It is rewarding though when it works – and as it is tough its a great skill to specialize and become an expert in.

Custom Site Definitions has a high percentage. Are people customizing these just because it’s the way they did it in SP 2003? Is the message about Features and FeatureStapling not getting through? Would be interested in your thoughts about this.

Other custom development were things such as custom fields, list definitions, event handlers, application pages and so on – nothing really stood out though.

11, What version of Microsoft Office is your organization running?


This one is important if you are doing demos and such. It’s great showing the integration points between Office 2007 and SP2007 but remember not all orgs will have Office 2007 deployed straight away. While one would hope Office 2003 would be the latest you would have to deal with from the results you can see a number of Office XP and 2000 instances are lurking around 🙂 Office 2007 deployments are moving along nicely though – although remember a lot of places may have mixed deployments, perhaps with power users getting the latest stuff earlier?

12, Any other comments, loves, hates etc with SharePoint?

The best answers always come in this section, and while I am not going to print them all hopefully I can provide you with the general feelings given:

– a common theme is around custom development, the learning curve, the lack of best practises for build solutions and them moving from dev to live. While first getting into SharePoint is scary you’ll soon go from ‘there’s no info out there’ to ‘wow there’s nearly too much’! Microsoft are also helping with the best practise stuff, check out:

and if you do have any immediate questions make sure to check out the SharePoint MSDN forums where a number of SharePoint MVPs hang out and help:

And finally get yourself along to a user group meeting!

– quite a few people also wished that after months of custom development, they’d stuck with out of the box functionality! The rule here – absolutely ensure your users realize what they are requesting, and also make sure you learn SharePoint functionality it comes with. The last thing you want to do is development something – then realize it’s already there for you!

– generally there is a lot of love in the air for SharePoint. Again the link for the survey was sent out to people who are already interested in the subject so you’d expect this. A lot of love – and also hope and expectation for the next version!


I hope you’ve found these results and comments useful. Feel free to add your own thoughts here in the comments or link to your blog post. We’ve a number of follow up questions that have come from this so expect a new survey soon!

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