Architecting a new site

Just thought I’d share some notes from a conversation with a very successful architect and IT evangelist.  Symon Garfield gives presentations world wide on the Art of SharePoint Success.  He mentioned to me (and in his 16 part blog) that 70% of IT projects fail and of the 30% that succeed, only 13% of the original tally are still in use a year after implementation.  These are fast & loose statistics, but generally accepted figures in IT.

There are 4 key elements to a successful SharePoint implementation:

  1. Governance
  2. Strategy
  3. Architecture
  4. Transition

Suffice to say that while planning is very important, understanding that a true SharePoint project is less a “project” and more of an ongoing organization change.  It is shallow to assume you are merely moving the organization to a collaborative environment when in actuality you are causing a huge fundamental shift in the way the organization is doing business, both internally and externally.

Without going into a long diatribe about how it all works, let’s just say following a plan that keeps the four part structure above in mind, is vital to a successful shift to SharePoint. The key steps include educating the client in what they are getting.  This includes different approaches for management, IT admin and users.  The steps I follow are:

Get the gist of the client’s goals – lots and lots of talking involved

  1. Set the expectations for what they will be getting – both more & less then they expect
  2. Gather the requirements from management goals, IT admin and user processes
  3. Analyze the existing processes
  4. Architect the system
  5. Get buy-in from the client
  6. Hand off the architecture to developers
  7. STAY INVOLVED!  With status reports, monitoring progress and issues, timelines, and payments
  8. Push the client to USE THE NEW SYSTEM and identify any needed changes

10.Get sign off

Moving to SharePoint is a huge change in the way your clients do business.  I believe it is almost always a move in the right direction.  Some processes do not require SharePoint.  There are cheaper, less capable systems that might suffice for their needs. But for any company collaborating on documents, projects, data sharing, anything using a timeline, forms management, order taking from customers, inventory management, and even more subjects, SharePoint can be a game changer.  It will bring a basis for establishing improved efficiency, better business tracking (dashboards anyone?), better communication, and improved tools for managing a business.

SharePoint is not the tool for everyone, but it is a tool that most organizations can make use of.  Symon knows this and so do I.  IT administrators fear losing control, even while complaining about their workload.  In reality, SharePoint shifts the business management tools more into the hands of managers where they belong, empowering managers to understand their business better and feel more in control while freeing IT to focus on the server room and less on making a site pretty or meet a manager’s idea of functionality.