Since the release of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, SharePoint has become an indispensable corporate collaboration tool for users around the globe, deployed by millions of enterprises worldwide. However, its popularity with corporate users looking for an easy and intuitive way to collaborate and grow their businesses also presents management and governance challenges.
SharePoint Deployment Spectrum
SharePoint is often deployed one of two ways, according to Joe Hartsel, business strategy manager for SharePoint Services at ICC. At one end of the spectrum, SharePoint is implemented as a tightly controlled technology project run by IT without the input of the key stakeholders who will be expected to use the platform. This can lead to a locked-down solution that provides little benefit to the organization.
At the other end of the spectrum, SharePoint is rolled out as a wide-open platform with little governance and few policies in place to control how it is deployed and used, leading to SharePoint “sprawl” with documents, websites and wikis created on the fly. This can make the solution just one more data store for IT to manage and the CFO to audit, not to mention another weak point for security.
“We often see SharePoint deployed in these two extremes,” says Hartsel. “One is left so open that it becomes the Wild West. The other is locked down so tight that users can’t really do much of anything to make them more productive or effective so they just don’t use it. Neither is an optimum case.”
To solve these issues, ICC, a nationally recognized enterprise technology leader that provides business-critical application development, digital and Big Data analytic solutions, has developed Seven Steps for SharePoint Success to help organizations obtain the most from their SharePoint deployments and upgrades quickly, hitting as few potholes along the way as possible.
Click through for seven steps that can help ensure a successful SharePoint rollout, as identified by ICC.
The key to delivering value and attaining a return on investment is to understand your organization’s business problems and objectives before the project begins. So the first task is to establish business requirements so the organization can identify opportunities to leverage SharePoint to deliver value to the business.
Due to the numerous possible solutions/features provided by SharePoint, there may be several means by which technical solutions can be implemented to meet the various business requirements. In addition, other non-SharePoint information systems and processes should be considered in these solutions to ensure they are complementary versus conflicting and to identify potential integration opportunities.
A governance plan is critical to every successful SharePoint implementation. The governance plan helps guide the organization so it makes the best choices for SharePoint usage and adoption, and allows boundaries to be set for SharePoint use within the organization. Standard components of a SharePoint governance plan include the definition of roles and responsibilities, information management policies, customization guidelines, security policies and standards, service level agreements, related policies and standards, change control processes, and training and support policies. Based on the needs of the organization, this may also include the creation of development standards and/or approved third-party tools and their standards.
The first two steps provide the input needed to define a technical architecture that supports the business needs and policies. Organizations then need to:
- Design the physical architecture and farm topology
- Design the logical architecture and site topology
- Identify and implement the infrastructure and security required to support the business requirements
- Determine the resource requirements for ongoing support and maintenance
To achieve the desired success, it is important to create an architecture and design that provides the resources an organization needs to get started with SharePoint, and that also has the ability to scale the environment(s) as adoption grows across the organization. Once the overall architecture is in place, it is necessary to create an implementation plan based on the business requirements and priorities, the costs to implement, the business technology mapping, the governance surrounding the environment(s), and the technical architecture used to support the environment(s).
A key lesson learned through ICC’s years of SharePoint implementations is that businesses best adopt SharePoint through multiple iterations focused on delivering business value and providing a return on investment. A highly iterative execution plan also aids overall adoption by demonstrating value and developing SharePoint champions within the organization. Executing on the plan, however, goes beyond the technical implementation. This step must also include the “execution” of the other areas of SharePoint to include user adoption activities, training activities, governance oversight, and continual adaptations as new problems, challenges, and opportunities present themselves. As these are discovered, the roadmap itself, as well as the governance, architecture, and training plan, should be modified as needed.
From Step 1, organizations need to apply the success criteria to the various solutions being implemented through the multiple iterations. This, in many ways, is the most difficult part of a SharePoint project because most organizations do not have a way to measure their current level of performance (i.e., before SharePoint implementation). For organizations that do have a well-developed measurement tool/definition, such as a balanced scorecard, the benefit/ success measurement will be much easier to determine once SharePoint is implemented. Organizations should set a baseline and identify success criteria so SharePoint project sponsors can communicate the benefit and value of the SharePoint deployment to the organization.
Driving adoption and change management can be the most challenging component of a SharePoint project because SharePoint requires the organization’s business users to change existing behaviors and processes. However, adoption can also be the most critical factor to the success or failure of your SharePoint implementation. To encourage adoption, organizations should intentionally create conditions so resources can see the greater benefit of working in new ways, and give them the capability to do so. Driving adoption and organizational change involves concise communication of the organization’s objectives and offerings, implementation of the training strategy and supporting materials, establishment of mechanisms to measure and report on results, and the provision of a mechanism to gather feedback and determine future enhancements. This step is an overarching requirement that should take place from the very beginning of the project planning effort and continue through its lifecycle.