Top Ten Tips for Implementing Microsoft SharePoint
SharePoint is a powerful product but a careful and considered approach is needed for a successful implementation. Ian Woodgate from PointBeyond shares his top 10 tips to help your organisation avoid some of the pitfalls commonly seen.
- Choosing to implement SharePoint is a forward-thinking business decision and it should be introduced to your staff as a positive new tool for the whole company. It should have director level endorsement and should be presented as more than just a change to the IT system; SharePoint has the capacity to permanently change the way people work for the better.
- Seek advice and support from a SharePoint expert. The initial setting up and organisation of your solution is vitally important as mistakes made here can be expensive and time-intensive to put right later on. First impressions should not be underestimated, it is crucial that SharePoint works correctly from the first time that your users try it.
- Create a strategy for user adoption - make sure SharePoint is marketed to your users enthusiastically, engage them early, involve them in their site's development, invest in training, and cultivate 'champions' within your organisation.
- Ensure user confidence from the outset. 'Findability' is essential. Users need to be able to find the information they are looking for swiftly from day one, in order to feel secure using the product. Navigation around the site should be clear and easy; broken links and error messages are extremely detrimental.
- Allow your users to experiment with prototypes and 'sandbox' sites. This engages users by letting them use the system on a trial basis, so they can discover what is possible in a relaxed, informal way and learn how the system can work to their advantage. Educate your users to try things for themselves using the sandbox but make it clear to them that this is for 'playtime' and not a production environment.
- The key to success in the long-term is a gradual approach. As staff members become accustomed to SharePoint they will gain more confidence and start to develop their own ideas about how the product can best be utilised to the benefit of the business.
- Avoid customisation initially. Instead, start with the 'out of the box' product and become familiar with it before considering customising it for your particular organisation's needs. A straightforward approach will deliver fast, effective results and 'quick wins' for your business.
- Identify the 'killer application' that will deliver maximum benefit for your organisation. This should be actively promoted as the SharePoint application to get to grips with first. A very useful third party application is Straightforward Timesheets by PointBeyond, for further information visit www.pointbeyond.com.
- A holistic approach is crucial even if you choose to roll out the system department by department. Avoid 'reinventing the wheel' each time a new team is introduced to the software; identify and deliver the common functionality only once.
- Put a proper governance plan in place. Empower users to make the most of the product but keep an appropriate degree of control so that changes are made in a controlled, structured way. Well-planned, controlled, business led change should be encouraged.
(ITadviser, Issue 59, Autumn 2009)