5 SharePoint “Don’t-s”
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
When starting a new project (be it a portal or any other type of collaborative solution), remember to start small. Build a simple, yet solid foundation on which to house your solutions. By building a sturdy framework, you are ensuring that the platform on which future solutions sit, is stable and reliable. Once your foundation is strong and complete, you can continue building upon it.
Additionally, this approach also allows you to experience quick wins – and lots of them! Quick wins not only speed up time to market (especially when this is a productivity-enhancing solution), but they are also great boosts for morale and building team spirit.
2. Don’t just install the software and build without a plan.
Remember what we said in the previous post: “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Make sure you get your plan RIGHT! To do this, you need to be sure that your stakeholders are on-board to buy into your vision and support it.
Make sure your plan covers all of your critical business, functional, and technical requirements. If you’re missing any items that are “critical” make sure you pause to re-visit the issue and either include or exclude the functionality accordingly, based on team evaluation.
Follow your plan as closely as possible. It’s okay if you have to re-tool the plan down the road. Just make sure that you have a good change management process in place. Proposed changes can spur new ideas and quickly spawn into scope creep. Scope Creep is NEVER good!
3. Don’t put Governance on the back burner.
Make sure that Governance is a priority with any solution that you build. Teaching others how the solution “should” be used properly is critical to user adoption, and to future success.
Impress upon the business users that they are both, responsible and accountable, for learning how to properly use and maintain the system (i.e how to upload files and correctly tag them, for example).
Additionally, once users get on-board with how we do things around here, you will see a huge shift in your company culture (hopefully for the better). People will be more cohesive and they will be able to anticipate the needs of their counterparts with greater ease. Things will start to “magically” get done right – the first time!
4. Don’t let IT plan and run the entire project.
As an IT guy myself, this is really hard to say out loud, however, it must be said. If you let the IT Staff plan, build, and deploy this solution alone, you WILL miss your mark. Though your IT staff may be well-versed in the business, they are rarely true business users. That said, it’s critical to have the real business users involved in working out the plan.
Business users should dictate how the solution “flows” and what it does (on a high-level). The IT staff should take that message and create the underlying technical functionality that makes this possible. Together, you deploy business, functional, and technical requirements.
If the solution is difficult for the business to use, then it will be rendered… well… “use-less”. People will not adopt the solution and/or quickly abandon it, if they did.
Make planning a collaborative process in which the business, stakeholders, and IT all take part. In the end, your solution will be intuitive for the business users, rich in functionality, and technically stable.
5. Don’t forget about scalability!
Don’t forget to plan for growth! This is extremely critical. All too often, I’ve seen companies build a solution that works…. Right now. In order to build a successful solution, it must be one that works now and in the future.
So many companies start out small and then, because they have done some key things right, suddenly grow to an unexpected scale. This is great news (unless you failed to plan for it). If you’re not prepared for growth, you will be scrambling at a time when your business critically needs a stable solution.
Plan for this! After all – you’re building systems and solutions. Systems and solutions typically streamline your business processes, thereby enabling everyone to do more with less effort. This should result in increased volumes (of widgets, orders, engagements, etc).
Plan for scalability. Then, when your business grows, you can focus on what provides value at that time. Here are some other business drivers that you may run into down the road.
So, there you have it – five things to avoid when planning a portal or collaborative solution. Whether you take my advice or not, mis-firing on one of these critical “don’t do’s” will catch up with you in the end. Let’s not take that chance!!