OK , so you think you are a very good Project Manager. You have all the skills to manage software projects – a wide range of Expertise, Performance-Ability and Personal skills. Good! You also have solid track record delivering successful web development projects. Excellent!
Now, with all your confidence and rich experience you started managing Sharepoint Projects. Despite combining power of all your niche skills – Technical, Managerial and even Political , you find your sharepoint projects are not ‘well received’ by key stakeholders and end users. You are consistently worried about the fact that your Sharepoint solutions are not ‘long lived’. Also, your Senior Mangement don’t see Sharepoint delivering real business value despite huge investment.
Finally, You (and your organization) have started thinking that Sharepoint is a problem rather than a solution!
Is Sharepoint really a problem?! The answer to this question is YES – if you and your organization never thought of devising solid Business- Centric Portal Strategy with an eye towards implementation.
For non-sharepoint web projects to be successful, it may be enough to adopt IT practices and frameworks ( like ITIL and MOF) , follow good project management processes (like PMBOK or PRINCE2) and build cohesive team of developers, system administrators and testers. BUT, For running successful Sharepoint projects, you need one more weapon – a solid Portal Strategy. Before you start with a Sharepoint Project, the first and most important thing you need is to invoke your analytical powers and come up with a Portal Strategy.
Sharepoint is a beast. It is a platform and an application – both. From application point of view, Sharepoint require a number of hardware and software technologies to run smoothly to deliver best productivity experience. As a platform, it supports huge customizations and development to provide solutions that are cost-effective and enables you to rapidly respond to business needs. It can deliver great value, provided you know how to tame it. Without a well thought strategy to act upon, you will loose control over Sharepoint . And very soon Sharepoint will start controlling you.
After a lot of analysis, I have come up with 7 elements that together define a generic business-centric Sharepoint strategy. By implementing the portal strategy ( and refining it as per the scenario or context you are in ), I am optimistic that you will be able to build, deploy and run Sharepoint based solutions that resonate with Business.
There 7 key areas you need to work upon proactively :
- Enage Key Stakeholders
- Understand Business Drivers
- Align Operating Model
- Understand all dimensions of Portal Architecture
- Establish Governance
- Ensure Business Continuity
- Continuous Refinement ( of 1-6…)
1. Engage your key stakeholders
You must do a thorough research into business needs and expectations of your key stakeholders. Understanding them will enable you define a portal strategy most suited and aligned to objectives of organization. A typical engagement should begin at the top level with Senior Management. Starting from top will help you to understand and focus on the themes and areas which Management want to improve.The top-to-bottom approach works best because senior stakeholders will point you in direction of quality people to work further. In most common scenario, below can be your stakeholders :
2. Understand Business Drivers
You should ensure that clear business drivers have emerged from your key Stakeholders.Some common business drivers that apply to most business are :
- Improve Employee productivity and collaboration
- Lower IT costs
- Improve Business performance
- Knowledge management and retention
Understanding of business drivers will help you to define a way in which your Sharepoint Solution should provide capabilties and services to organization and finally help to establish the success criteria of your Sharepoint solution.
3. Align the operating model
You also need to ensure that all project management processes, work procedures, technologies and supporting systems are well aligned to work in harmony with success factors you have defined.
4. Understand Portal Architecture Dimensions.
To design for Reliability ,Flexibility and Maintainability, you need to have good understanding of multi-dimensional Sharepoint Architecture.
Sharepoint provides capabilities that are almost unsurpassed and empowers with , both – wide & deep- range of flexibilities. This is the power of Sharepoint, but in absence of Governance , it can cause big issues. Governance is very important to ensure that your solution is ‘long lived’. I have written entire post on it : Effective Sharepoint Governance : A must for Sustaining the Success
6. Ensure Business Continuity
Almost all of the times, Sharepoint applications are considered business critical. Still, most of the times, a proper business impact analysis is not performed for these applications. This refers to poor Business Continuity Management.
A well thought business continuity plan is very important to ensure that your Sharepoint Portal is Highly Available and Disaster Proof.
7. Continous Refinement
Any strategy or plan is not perfect. When put into action, you may still discover problems with your strategy. Its your job to keep on refining stratgey to help for future Sharepoint projects.