19 Mar 2013

What you must do when implementing SharePoint

There are many advantages to conducting a SharePoint implementation, and the high failure rate of SharePoint solutions is not due to the faults in the software, but in the implementations themselves, and the staff undertaking them. Here’s how to make yours stick, and take advantage of the ongoing business benefits it offers.

Do your research

You know the basic shape of your existing systems and how users collaborate. But in order to get the most out of your SharePoint implementation, you’ll need in-depth information. Survey your staff about how they work together and which applications they use. Talk to senior management about who should have access to how much of which type of information, and where overlap between project teams and business units occurs. The more information you start with, the easier implementation will be, for both the IT department and the rest of the company.

Time the roll-out

Remember that you’re not just implementing a system, you’re changing the enterprise habits of a workforce, and they’re (hopefully) very busy people. If you bombard them with a suite of new systems like Team Sites, MySites and Document Management at once, you’ll create a change overload and the bulk of your workers will continue to do most of their collaboration over email. Stagger the roll-out of and allot time and resources for workforce education.

Use the features

It’s important to get a good ROI on SharePoint, because it certainly represents a significant investment. While you do need to manage its introduction to your employees, you should make a firm decision to adopt most SharePoint functions within a definite timeframe. Otherwise you risk implementing a very costly CMS. You should also investigate higher-level features like custom lists, workflows and forms –  these offer real productivity and usability bonuses, but can be easily overlooked.

Call on an expert

Many companies implementing SharePoint won’t necessarily have a high-level SharePoint expert in the office. What appears a straight-forward install process can quickly turn into an nightmare if your system administrator doesn’t have a solid understanding of version control, archiving, records management and user training. Engage outside expertise if you need to.