Category Archives: Information & Document Management

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.

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Part 1 of 3: A SharePoint Roadmap: Planning your SharePoint Implementation

–          Dany Charland, Partner

This is the first post in a three-part series in which I will outline best practices for planning, implementing and using Microsoft SharePoint in an SMB environment.

Like any good tool, SharePoint is invaluable when properly deployed and knowledgably used. In uncertain hands, however, it can become unwieldy and can even reduce productivity. Our SharePoint Ottawa experts have helped many organizations realize the potential of their SharePoint implementations. We’ve developed a roadmap that enables organizations to turn SharePoint into a strategic platform – one that consolidates information, automates existing manual processes, and supplements their existing line of business solutions.

In this blog series, I’ll share some of the most important steps I believe that businesses, associations and not-for-profit organizations should take when implementing or updating a SharePoint solution.

1)      Step back and assess

When we work with clients on a SharePoint implementation, we always start by meeting with executives, managers and lead users to get a clear picture of their business goals and expectations for a SharePoint platform.

Before diving into any technical discussions, gather representatives from each business unit and ask them to put their high-level business goals and top expectations of organizational information on the table. This information will be extremely valuable when architecting the solution and will help to ensure user uptake and satisfaction.

2)      List your unmet information needs

Each organization will have a unique set of information needs. Think about which aren’t currently met within your business. Do you need better document management? Is your information secure enough? Do your processes need to be more standardized? Do you need to improve internal or external information sharing? Is version control a problem?

Answering these questions before implementing your solution will save extra customization down the road and will increase your chances of a successful launch.

3)      Identify your unstructured data

SharePoint differs from a typical line of business application because it’s intended to manage unstructured data – such as spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, intranets and emails. A solid SharePoint implementation will help your users to manage versions, manage access, and manage processes around documents like these. Its content management capabilities will also help your organization manage content editing, revision, approval, and publishing.

To truly leverage these capabilities, however, you will first need to identify the types of unstructured data found within your organization. What is the most important data that your users need to find, retain, and secure? Where does it reside? How is it currently managed and shared?

4)      Identify the target audiences (not just the users)

Many different groups will either need or want to interact with your SharePoint implementation. Be sure to identify not only your user community but also those members of the IT department that will need to actively participate in the implementation, rollout and maintenance process to provide technology insight and experience into potential risks, roadblocks and opportunities.

At Tango, we conduct user intake sessions to ensure that we accurately define the functionality, security model, access permissions, publishing processes, and workflows needed by users.

5)      Make a list of your top objectives

SharePoint is an extremely powerful tool that can help businesses achieve a number of goals. It’s important, however, to prioritize your goals to ensure that the most important needs and expectations are met at the outset. This is critical to a successful implementation, organizational buy-in and user uptake.

Identify four or five functions that your implementation must manage above all else.  For example, these could include:

  • Offering document management, workflow and collaboration tools that make it easier/more efficient to do one’s work.
  • Supplementing the existing line of business applications.
  • Providing a means of securely sharing content with outside stakeholders.
  • Offering search tools that help users find and share content.
  • Support a sense of belonging and community building among staff, through a shared collaboration space.

In my next blog post on this topic, I’ll explore how to use the answers to the above topics to identify the architecture and tactics needed to make your SharePoint implementation a success.

Continue to next post in series >>

 

A New Paradigm for Critical Document Management & Records Management

– by Dany Charland

Document and records management (DM/RM) has traditionally followed a strict file plan, with profile forms used to create and maintain records. These are important best practices; and, for regulated industries such as accounting firms, healthcare, IT, food safety etc., they are necessary to provide evidence of document controls.

However, a common complaint about document management is that its file structure is too rigid and its forms too cumbersome to effectively support users. These systems rely on the carefulness and attention of users to retain, dispose and secure records. The combination of inconvenience and user dependency make many traditional DM/RM systems error prone on the best of days.

“It’s too hard to find what I need” is a common user complaint about traditional rigid records management systems. Part of the challenge is that no single file storage structure can account for the myriad organizational structures represented by human brains. From a business perspective, frustrated users are a risk because they are prone to take shortcuts, make errors or simply avoid using critical systems.

Microsoft SharePoint gives businesses the opportunity to manage records and documents with appropriate protocols in place while also delivering a more flexible user experience. They key to unlocking these capabilities is to establish a properly structured, standards-based and controlled vocabulary for meta-data management. This enables document management and records management developers to build virtual entity structures – also called virtual file plans – that provide users with multi-faceted browsing experiences.

In short, SharePoint offers a user-driven records search and browsing experience while maintaining the necessary file structures by making the storage structure invisible to the user.

At Tango Technology Group, we use SharePoint and Silverlight, combined with DM/RM best practices and principles, to deliver records management solutions that meet both business and usability needs.

For more information:
• Visit our SharePoint Practice web page
• Learn more about SharePoint from Microsoft
Contact me, Dany Charland – I’m Tango Technology Group’s SharePoint business expert
• Attend my SharePoint DM/RM presentation at SharePoint Summit 2012 in Quebec City