Part 2 of 3: A SharePoint Roadmap: Implementing SharePoint

-Dany Charland, Partner

This is the second post in a three-part series that outlines best practices for planning, implementing and using Microsoft SharePoint in an SMB environment.

Microsoft SharePoint can help you to manage the lifecycle of all information assets in an efficient and formalized fashion.  But implementing an information management-focused approach in an organization that previously lacked corporate information management processes can be tough, raising hurdles around acceptance, compliance, and management.

In the first post of this series, we outlined best practices for planning a SharePoint project. Here, we list some of the most important the steps needed to implement SharePoint successfully within an organization.

1)      Develop a Governance Body and Plan

SharePoint is not a set-and-forget system. Its success requires frequent reviews and adjustments to respond to the evolving needs of the business. To be successfully implemented and accepted, both your business and technical teams will need to be involved.

A formal governance plan helps to ensure that all areas of the business are on board. This is a living document that lists the most important stakeholders from all areas of the business. These stakeholders will form a “governance body” charged with ensuring that the system remains relevant. This body should be given these high- level responsibilities:

  • Provide strategic direction for the SharePoint system
  • Identify business owners that are willing to provide strategic insight and direction for the application, and who are able to drive strategic initiatives within their respective groups
  • Create an effective support system with proper channels of escalation for end users
  • React to business opportunities identified by the user community by ensuring the allotment of appropriate resources
  • Establish and maintain usage and maintenance policies, guidelines and procedures
  • Ensure adequate support levels by identifying and allocating necessary resources.

At Tango, we help organizations to structure their governance body to represent the most important groups (such as the senior management team, IT department and user community) and to develop an appropriate hierarchy of authority.

2)     Create a Change Management Framework

SharePoint changes the way that an organization’s information is managed. To ensure that this change is understood and accepted, all key stakeholders need the opportunity to contribute input and participate in decisions that affect the system. A good change management framework will match the lifecycle of any content, structural or architectural changes that result from the SharePoint implementation. Ideally, it should cover the following activities for any major change:

  1. Initiate
  2. Plan
  3. Execute
  4. Close
  5. Monitor and Evaluate

Be sure not to ignore the monitoring and evaluation stage. Too often, we see organizations omit or disregarded this step, but it’s necessary to close the loop on change and foster continuous improvement.

3)     Customize Your SharePoint Implementation

User acceptance of any web-based technology is much greater when the system is visually attractive and branded to the organization. Unfortunately, SharePoint’s out-of-the-box interface tends to overwhelm new users and can be quite difficult to navigate.  In order to make your SharePoint user experience rich, useful, and intuitive, we recommend that all relevant content and navigation elements be described in your organization’s verbiage and follow a structure familiar to your users. Wherever possible, aim to replicate the look and feel of existing tools and portals to offer a familiar and branded experience to your users.

4)     Separate the System Architecture & Site Structure

The underlying physical architecture of a SharePoint implementation does not need to correspond to the user-facing site structure. In fact, SharePoint works best when the system architecture and the site structure are distinct.

The underlying system architecture should focus on security, data management, performance and scalability. The site structure, on the other hand, must focus on usability and efficiency. We can’t stress enough how important it is to properly plan the underlying architecture, as it will become much more difficult to modify as the site content increases. Although the site structure is comparatively simple to update and adjust, it is a user-facing element. That means that the impact of changes on users must be taken into account before implementing any changes.

5)     Select the Appropriate Security Model

SharePoint’s access control architecture can be customized to meet the specific security requirements of an organization. It is implemented in a top-down inheritance model that simplifies security management but requires significant up-front planning. Each organization’s security needs are unique, which is why we always conduct consultation exercises with clients to flesh out the exact security and access control restrictions required to adequately manage information assets.

6)     Develop and Follow a Migration Strategy

Each business unit should play an active role in mapping its existing information assets to the new structure designed in SharePoint. Because the volume of information, search requirements and access controls will vary from group to group within an organization, it is best to develop a migration strategy in consultation with each business unit. Work closely with each group to identify the content that needs to be migrated (and the content that does not need to move) based on volume, historical importance, and business relevance.

Following the above steps will help to ensure a successful SharePoint implementation.  In our final post in this series, we’ll look at ways to monitor and maintain your SharePoint system once it’s up and running so that it actually delivers its anticipated benefits.

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  1. […] Tango Technology Group Blog Business People, Technology Experts Skip to content Visit our website « Checklist: What’s Your IT-Business IQ? Part 2 of 3: A SharePoint Roadmap: Implementing SharePoint » […]

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