Thursday, 12 January 2012

Keep it simple stupid!

So, like all SharePoint consultants/architects/devs/project managers I've witnessed my fair share of the heartache of failed projects for various reasons, but the one that *really* gets to me is when SharePoint solutions are over engineered - and we overlook the actual business and strategic objectives the solution aims to meet.

I use a phased approach when taking on an intranet project (particularly when the organisation has never made use of an intranet or SharePoint previously).

Phase 1 consists of purely branding and page layouts customisation and perhaps 1 or two content aggregators (for news, etc.). Start getting end users used to the idea of searching for general content and policy documents through the intranet as opposed to emailing/IM'ing/phoning HR to request the information/policy/template they are looking for.

Phase 2 is where we start getting to the fun stuff: collaboration / LOB application integration / document management / etc. And this phase should only start once phase 1 has been live and rolled out to staff for at least 3 months. 

This ensures your SharePoint solution is eased into the organisation, and it assists in user adoption, in that users aren't thrown into the deep end and forced to change their mindsets from day 1.

I've found that when an organisation goes the Full Monty with SharePoint from day 1 and embraces document management and collaboration aspects of SharePoint without fully understanding the product and training it's end users efficiently (or even developing effective governance policies and processes) users push back and return to their bad habits.

As consultants and architects it is our duty to sometimes say "no", the customer is not "always right" the customer is king, and WILL return and provide repeat business if their implementation is a success and by implementation I do not mean only technically.