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It's that time again, our SharePoint training classes have been scheduled and prepped, now all we need is you! Come join us for our SharePoint 2010 Administration Class. We have two dates and locations to choose from Cincinnati, Ohio June 25th - 29th or San Antonio, Texas August 6th - 10th. Come join us for this five day class that covers a wide range of information, everything from installation planning to advanced topics like Claims authentication and Business Intelligence. Microsoft SharePoint MVP Shane Young will be delivering a full plate of administrative knowledge and invites you to join him.
Shane is a SharePoint enthusiast from Cincinnati, Ohio. With over 15 years of network administration experience and author of 5 books about SharePoint. He specializes in SharePoint infrastructure, search, design, and problem solving. When he isn't writing , reading, speaking, or teaching about SharePoint he is spending time with his wife Nicola and son Grant.
What should you do first with your SharePoint project?
by John Ross MS MVP Microsoft SharePoint Server
In my role at Rackspace, I’m often the first SharePoint resource to get involved in a project and one of the most common first questions I’ll get asked from a client is “where should we start?” This question comes in many other varieties such as:
“Our boss told us we need to do SharePoint.”
“We want to do an intranet.”
“What do you usually do?”
“We’ve talked to our Microsoft rep and we want to do an intranet and BI and search and...”
SharePoint is a powerful product that does a number of things. And it shouldn’t be too surprising that Microsoft is marketing the stuffing out of it! You've probably seen the famous SharePoint pie that list a bunch of buzzwords that roughly describe the major areas of functionality? It is great to know that a product like SharePoint has a large number of features and functionality that can help solve your business problems but finding a starting point can be deceptively difficult.
Here’s a few quick tips for how to get your project started off on the right foot even if you are faced with some of the questions above:
Set a vision and measurable goals
I’m sure many of you read the title of this section and rolled your eyes. Stick with me here – this isn’t pure fluff. When I’m posed with the questions above I usually suggest trying to take a step back and try to get an understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. “Do SharePoint” isn’t a vision and it certainly isn’t anything that helps guide us as we move forward. Something like “Create an intranet that provides a central location where all users can go to collaborate and communicate for all business functions” is a bit more specific. And we could use something like that make other decisions against.
Vision statements are useful, but very general. Once the vision is decided we can create some measurable goals that are more specific. Something like:
Ideally your goals should be simple and easily measurable. It is a good way to go back after the project is complete and demonstrate success!
- 80% of content should be accessible within 3 clicks.
- Use project sites for users to collaborate, store, and report on project data.
- Reduce the cycle time for onboarding from 1 week to 1 day.
Think about what processes are the biggest pain points
Every company has processes that seem overly complicated. I once went to a company who created massive binders for every project they ran – and all that data for every project sat in a binder on someone’s shelf. If you needed information from a project and the owner of the binder was on vacation, good luck! This is a great example of a process that can be automated – maybe not fully automated, but at least moving it out of physical files would be a big step.
Besides converting physical files, other examples of ways to improve pain points:
In many cases with SharePoint by updating one system we can address several of the items listed above as well as other reap other benefits.
- Moving away from electronic file shares
- Automating manual processes
- Tracking and reporting on data
- Updating legacy systems
- Reorganizing business content to make it easy to use or find
Don’t try to do everything at once!
One of the most common problems I hear when it comes to SharePoint is that someone tried to do too much at one time and the project went bad. My advice here is once you’ve set a vision and goals and then identified your pain points – don’t try to do everything at once. I always use the analogy of how I approached choosing classes in college; I knew what the most difficult courses were that I had to take and I tried not to take more than 1 or 2 a semester. So I’d usually take a hard class or two and then fill the rest of my schedule with ones I knew wouldn’t stress me out. The same strategy works great for SharePoint projects.
For your first phase maybe you just get SharePoint setup, configured, and identify your governance strategy and build some sites then get your users up to speed on using SharePoint effectively. There’s likely nothing too fancy listed there but that effort alone can be a lot of effort – especially if your organization is new to SharePoint. There’s nothing wrong with implementing SharePoint in many phases. In fact, I believe this approach is absolutely preferred to trying to shoot for the moon and spending 12 months building things before anyone can use it. When it comes to SharePoint projects the saying “Success breeds success” is very true – delivering lots of manageable phases well will keep your users asking for more!
SharePoint does a laundry list of things, but the key to success is to identify the areas of your organization where it can have the biggest impact. If you come out of the gate with a good vision and goals, solve some problems that make people’s lives easier, and have a good phased approach to delivering on that vision you’ll be on the right path.
If you have any questions about how to get started, please shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’d be glad to help!
More about Rackspace Hosting
Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX) is the service leader in cloud computing and a founder of OpenStack™, an open source cloud operating system. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support® to its customers and partners, across a portfolio of IT services, including Dedicated and Public Cloud. Rackspace has been recognized by Bloomberg BusinessWeek as a Top 100 Performing Technology Company and was featured on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. The company was also positioned in the Leaders Quadrant by Gartner Inc. in the “2010 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting.” For more information, visit www.rackspace.com