5 Keys to SharePoint Success

Many organizations deploy SharePoint to resolve issues or address opportunities within their business.  SharePoint deployments meet varying amounts of success.  This post highlights a few key areas for SharePoint success - we would place each of these in the Must Have category if you expect to succeed with SharePoint.

Define Success

As with any project, if you haven't set a finishing point, you may never feel like you've succeeded. This will take conversations with members of the business and other stakeholders who are invested in SharePoint.

Form agreement on the vision, strategy, short term goals and long term strategy for your implementation.  This will guide you along the way and help everyone understand where you are headed. 

Governance

Many organizations faiI to find success with SharePoint because they don't create a governance plan.  Strong governance will make owning SharePoint so much easier - especially in the long term.

Remember: The key to good governance is that it is simple enough for everyone in the organization follow and understand.

Questions Your Governance Strategy Should Answer

Governance in SharePoint helps you make decisions about your content and how it is managed.  We've listed a couple of example questions that a good governance strategy will help you answer.

  • Who owns content in SharePoint?
  • What happens to content that is added to SharePoint
    • Does it need to be checked in?
    • How many versions will we track?
    • Who can edit it?
  • Have guidelines and standards been set out for content owners and the business to follow?
  • Has a training strategy been defined?

Here are a couple of great resources from Microsoft on governance:

Involve the Business

The business will be the main users of SharePoint.  From the beginning, they need to be involved in planning and deploying SharePoint. We've seen SharePoint implementations fail because IT Departments deploy SharePoint without considering the businesses needs as content or application owners.

Our Belief: Involve the Business Early and Often

Let’s start with the decision to implement SharePoint, when the business is not involved in the process early in the project they are not invested in it’s success.  The business needs to know how they will benefit and need to be part of and have a say in how SharePoint is implemented.

It is important to have good representation from throughout the organization when planning Information Architecture, Navigation, Templates, Metadata and so on.  The more engaged the stakeholders are in the project the more invested they become in the success.

Know Your App's Roles

We consider document collaboration to be the corner stone SharePoint's strengths.  SharePoint's features and benefits are vast.  However, you should clearly define where SharePoint fits in the stack of applications you are supporting and what its role is.

Just because you can build a CRM tool in SharePoint, doesn't mean that you should

Choosing the right “Apps” to do in SharePoint is very important, the phrase “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” definitely applies here.  SharePoint is a collaboration tool, apps should be focused on SharePoint’s strength, if it requires a high degree of customization you may need to rethink your solution and approach.

Training

If you have the business involved in implementation, planning and analysis activities, ensure that you have empowered the business users with the right skills and knowledge to work in this platform.  Training is often the most overlooked step, All the careful planning and precise execution can be undone by lack of training for your target audience.

  • If you are deploying SharePoint as a new tool to the business - provide training for everyone.
    • Lunch and Learns may work in this case, but for critical areas of the business you may need more formal training.
  • Consider videos and making online training content available for the business
  • Ongoing training sessions should be available.
    • The platform changes and users need to be refreshed.  Use ongoing training to address these areas.

Closing Thoughts

Delivery and execution are so critical in deployment of any technology.  Make sure you have the right people, planning and project management in place along the way.  These are standard in all technology projects - make no exceptions with SharePoint.

Good Luck!