Five SharePoint “Do”s!

Five SharePoint “Do”s. 

When planning a SharePoint deployment or project, there are many ways to do it “right”.   Of course, this depends upon your specific situation and what you wish to accomplish.    No matter how you eventually arrive at your end result, there are certain characteristics of a successful solution.     I have outlined Five of these such characteristics.

The following is a list of Five things that you should do when planning a SharePoint deployment or collaborative project.

  1.  Plan ahead -
    As in most projects you want to make sure that you have an excellent plan before you begin the actual work.    You’ve all heard the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”   I believe this is especially true in the world of collaborative solutions. Creating and following a solid plan is crucial to keeping your project on track.  Following your plan as closely as possible also prevents your project from growing out of control (Scope Creep).   You are also able to set and manage expectations across your organization by simply referring back to your plan.

    Here are some tips on how to create your plan.    Remember:  Having a great plan is just the first step.  

  2. Involve users  -
    Now that you’ve got a plan, you need to make sure your plan will work for your organization.   If you’re using SharePoint, it’s a good bet that you’re not working alone J.   Therefore, you should get others involved in reviewing and contributing to your plan before you begin to execute.Gathering key stakeholders and having them help you examine and optimize your plan is a smart and complimentary move.   This keeps the “big wigs” involved and allows them to help manage strategic objectives of the portal and/or project.   

    Stakeholders and managers aren’t the only ones who need to be involved, however.   It’s also important to get the “pulse of the people” when planning deployments or projects.   Your users are going to have their hands in the product every day.    Find out from them what works well and what doesn’t.   Don’t try to hazard a guess – you WILL guess wrong.    Let the people speak and be heard – then do whatever you can to make it happen! (within reason, of course)   You will be a hero because of it.

    For some tips on how to involve your end users, check out this link!

  3. Build a solid Foundation First -
    When building out your plan, take every suggestion into consideration.   Notice, I didn’t say, “Do everything they ask”.   Compile the suggested requirements, needs, and wants and keep track of them all.   No suggestion is a bad suggestion.   The next step will be to prioritize them and determine which features or functions are critical to the success of your project and which are just “nice to have”.    Consider your timeline and budget for completing this project and only tackle those that you can reasonably fit into these constraints (time, need, budget).    If you can fit them all – great!   However, most of the time you will have to make some compromises.  

    Prioritize and build a strong foundation.  Get it done on time and make sure it’s done well.   If you do that, all of those other features and suggestions can we be worked into the solution in future projects. 

    Define the scope that you wish to work within.  Identify what you want to accomplish with the first iteration (and/or future iterations) and document them.   For tips on how to build a strong foundation, click here.

  4. Document Everything! -
    One of the most important things you can do is document your solution thoroughly.   Document your plan, document the users’ suggestions, document your architecture and the step-by-step instructions for building and maintaining the solution.  This documentation will save you time and time again.   Whether a new hire comes along that will be responsible for learning this system, or it gets destroyed in a disaster, you will be prepared if your solution is well-documented (and the documentation is backed up safely). 

    This documentation doesn’t have to be complicated.  I have many SIMPLE examples available for free that you can use, either as-is, or just to get your creative juices flowing.  

    NOTE:  The Downloads page requires a password that you can when you subscribe to the SharePoint Dude Newsletter for free.

  5. Continually Evaluate and Improve -
    Once your solution is off the ground and successfully deployed, it’s time to turn around and do this all over again (but on a smaller scale).    Identify what went well and would could have gone better.   Take notes and share your thoughts with the stakeholders and end users.Next, determine what you plan to do about those things that didn’t go as well as you had planned.   How will you make it better?  How will you learn from what you did well?  

    Kaizen is a methodology that is gaining popularity in the US and has been used in Japan for many years.   It means, “Continuous Improvement” (loosely translated).    The idea behind this method is to continually make small, incremental improvements over a long period of time.   By constantly re-evaluating and improving your solutions, you will forever be “on your game” and providing world-class solutions for your organization that change the entire culture of your business.   You will see productivity increases in everyone that utilizes the solutions.   Additionally, the users will continually provide feedback that further enhances the way it works for years to come.

    Here’s a great way to solicit feedback from the user community, once your solution is launched.

Hopefully, you’ve gone through this process (or will) within your organization and have found great success!   Keep that chain going and come back to tell us your story!

Looking forward to your comments!

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