How the 80/20 rule applies to SharePoint

Many of us have heard the 80/20 rule and it can be applied to a variety of different scenarios, more than a few of which directly relate to SharePoint in the enterprise.

How the 80/20 rule applies to SharePoint

Developing SharePoint solutions specific to your company needs can take advantage of the millions of dollars Microsoft has already put into research for the resolution of the top business issues. This technology development model makes the 80/20 rule so applicable to SharePoint because 80% of business problems will be similar to the business cases that SharePoint has been developed to resolve.

Which of the following is true?

  1. Many business cases can be addressed with 80% out of the box (OOTB) functionality and 20% custom
  2. Problems that impact 80% of your users can be addressed with 20% of the technology
  3. 80% of users will take advantage of 20% of the features available

If you said all of the above, you were 100% correct.

Many business cases can be addressed with 80% out of the box (OOTB) functionality and 20% custom

We find that most of our customers think that because of the unique nature of their business, their business case must be absolutely unique and this mindset causes many of them to think in terms of:

Unique Business Case = Completely Custom Solution

The model really should be:

Your Business Case = (80% of OOTB) + (20% discovery on remainder) where discovery of remainder = (80% OOTB + 20% custom).

This isn't to say that your solution will not be unique and tailored to your organization, it's just that the functionality most likely exists to overcome your difficulties. This is why SharePoint lends itself to Agile project delivery. After addressing the low hanging fruit through an 80% OOTB deployment, you can systematically drill deeper into those hard-to-define requirements which become:

  1. truly unique and merit custom solution design OR
  2. are discovered to be very difficult to define but when analyzed and defined well, still hit an 80/20 rule where 80% of the problem can still be addressed through OOTB functionality.

Problems that impact 80% of your users can be addressed with 20% of the technology

If an executive is told that 80% of their user-base can be helped with a single tool, their decision to implement should be easily made. Even at a 20% feature-set-usage, that 20% feature-set in SharePoint is easy to adopt and super effective.

The beauty of SharePoint comes from many things – but its familiar interface, functionality and toolset make it a big win! Our user base is generally using Outlook in their day to day. This makes SharePoint Alerts, Calendar and entry into online forms familiar. SharePoint document libraries are often populated with Word, Excel, and other file formats that our user base is working with every day. While the user gets used to the benefits of a well-planned document library (check out, versions, required meta-data enabling search-ability), they do not have to familiarize themselves with the spreadsheet or word document they already access every day.

Datasheet view starts looking like all-familiar Excel, filters and sorts behave like content organization in Excel, ribbon commands in SharePoint become familiar as use of the ribbon becomes second nature to users.

Your users can easily adapt to the 20% of features in SharePoint that will make 80% of them happy.

Not bad hey! But now, how to expand that percentage….

80% of users will take advantage of 20% of the features available

This can be considered a huge success! If you provide a tool where 80% of your user base is becoming more productive through any portion of the product offering, the tool is dramaticaly improving productivity.

The desire to get 90% or 100% of your staff to use more of the technology is a very reasonable goal. Additionally, the desire to have any user leveraging 40%, 50% or more of the features available is understandable. Putting the tool in place is just​ the first step.

Increasing user adoption can be achieved through training, knowledge sharing, user-awareness….and this is known to be one of the more difficult endeavors to execute well on SharePoint. Working with a partner like BrightStarr our consultants can recommend training paths, put training options in your native solution so users find what they need, when they need it, and we can provide custom training along with your solution.

Sam Hassani Principal Consultant

‘Sensible’ Sam is an asset to the consulting team. Having jumped the fence from Microsoft a few years back, he now consults and designs large scale SharePoint, O365 and Azure solutions for BrightStarr. His conscientious approach got him his nickname, and although he’s not afraid to take risks, he’s always a safe bet. Delivering stable, well thought out solutions time and time again.

In his previous job, he specialized in SharePoint, working in the field and with the product team, Sam is genuinely excited by his vocation and speaks at conferences and events with enthusiasm. Just don’t get him started on hybrid search! At the weekend Sam likes to ride his road bike and hang out with his young son.

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