My story with SharePoint goes back to the year 1999, in which I got acquainted with the “Tahoe Server” – the predecessor version of Microsoft SharePoint. Since then, SharePoint grew up to be a modern and widely-used collaboration application platform.
In many years as a SharePoint consultant, I have gained a lot of experience and detected some SharePoint mysteries also.
It is, and always was, my true aim to support my customers in finding attractive, structured, sometimes creative, and always practical solutions for their knowledge and data management. Seeing the upcoming shine in the eye of the customer – that is what I get up for!
Nobody works with some standard design; everybody uses own structures, workflows and functions.
For that, SharePoint’s functional customizing provides various design options and possibilities to create suitable and customized solutions. I am used to think along the following priority list:
1. Out-of-the-box functionalities
2. Combinations, workflows and adjustments by tool-set
3. Consideration of programming or third-party products
4. Appearance, visual structure and ergonomics of the user interface
5. Appropriate controls, web pages and forms (all can be arranged to customer requirements or a design guide)
Customers like you, often departments specialist, want to get their tasks done and their problems solved – often with very specific requirements regarding their structures and data management.
As a first step, an in-depth feasibility study clarifies, if SharePoint is the right tool for your problem.
If so, the solution will be described according to required functionalities, ergonomics, needed structures, etc. Thereby also interfaces to connected systems will be analyzed and defined.
This description is often called the “specification sheet” (“What needs to be done”).
According to this, the performance description will be elaborated and will describe the realization approach in detail (“How it will be done”).
After that, the project can be planned and carried out.
If there will be any changes in a running project, the change requests will be thoroughly analyzed (e.g. for possible side effects) and implemented if necessary.
With the feasibility study, we will together analyze and evaluate, if
• all technical factors are given for a SharePoint implementation
• the realization is meaningful from a technical and economic perspective (weighing pros and cons)
• alternative solutions are more appropriate
The overall assessment of all levels provides a reliable decision list:
- The system will be implemented
- The system will be implemented by alternatives
- The system will be implemented with deductions
- The system will not be implemented
By providing you – the customer – with a large pool of solution building components, a lot of experience and know-how as well as by using a complex but structured multi-stage lookup, we will be able to create a new, creative, customized, and suitable solution. This will not only pay off but also please you and solve many of your problems.
A highly dynamic system like SharePoint, inevitably comes at a point where a new structure of data, order criteria and / or access concepts is announced.
Often, an existing fileshare construct was also easily converted into a file-sharing construct with a web interface, without activating the actual abilities of SharePoint. The poor users only feel that the operation is "more complicated" than before. Here, a training / information concept is absolutely necessary additional to the restructuring.
SharePoint often was installed and then "let's see what grows". Meanwhile it is too complex for this simple method.
Some important questions must be clarified beforehand.
- Which data should be managed at all by SharePoint?
- Which functionalities should be used (DMS, portal management, CMS, archive, etc.)?
- Coarse structure of data management (projects, teams, company structure)?
- Metadata and information types?
In all phases of the implementation it is important for the later acceptance in the vital field
that the users are involved as intensively as possible, but at least they must be adequate informed.
Even regular "feedback" phases may cost a little bit of more time, but they prevent errors in developments.
Power user training and coaching
For later uncluttered operation, there must be users in all affected departments, who can dynamically create, design, and modify their web presence, without IT support.
Therefore, they will be trained, which elements are available and suitable for them, and get insights into access management.
In short, they must know what they are doing, and become multipliers for common SharePoint know-how.