Can a SharePoint Implementation be Out of Control or Chaotic?

 

Many articles and many people that implement large applications on Sharepoint 2007 sometimes have a frustrating feeling about the product as the solution grows.

Surprised? I am not….

In fact I consider this is a normal situation in software implementations, and have in your mind, that Sharepoint 2007 is a complete solution (it’s not simply an ASP.Net Solution, neither a simple feature evolution of last version), with many functionalities across all the modules existent in the product.

Not exclusive in Sharepoint implementations, certainly you know that Software Science is a young and not exact science, and many methodologies and approaches (CMMI, ITIL, …) are being developed to improve the success of implementing software solutions.

I have worked on a customer, and have experienced this problem: many sites with different solutions growing periodically, thousands of users to be managed and no polices defined. Of course the initial approach was easy (start developing right away), but after a few months the problems started appearing.

Humans have a natural defense in situations that are out of their control or that they cannot explain (it’s normal), and the first reaction of people responsible for the project, is questioning the product. But can Sharepoint 2007 be a big problem? Can Sharepoint implementations be so different from other technologies? The answer is No! The product has many success histories showing that Out of Control behavior can be managed, and that normally the complexity is related to the company environment and not to the product.

So what we can do to minimize those problems?

The Good News J

 Microsoft provides detailed documentation about this generic problem, specific to Sharepoint Product Implementations, the Governance Plan.

 The Governance Plan is about People, Processes, Technologies and Policies, and is a result of years of work/experience, constantly being improved since Windows Sharepoint Services 2003. Its goal is to help prevent many mistakes known.

My suggestion and experience is to build a team to develop the Governance Model, prior to the development phase and deploying anything. Believe me: the total cost of the project will be much lower in the end, and you will see happier users.

There are many considerations and things to talk about in the Governance Plan (i.e., a great post from Joel Oleson’s Blog, talk about key considerations that you should care about in Deployment). For now, I will give you some of the highlights that you should care about:

· Define an executive sponsor for the project.

· Analyze and understand the business requirements.

· Guarantee you have the right skills on the project team.

· Train the people with the right skills, if you don’t.

· Make sure that all people have the right understanding of the product and the requirements.

· Plan ahead for search.

· Build policies and standards for the solution (development, management, deploy, dynamic sites creation, etc).

· Develop your look-and-feel of the site/portal and propagate them to all sites/teams.

 

Of course there are many others things that you should care, and since every company is different, the development of governance model will be different too. The following documents and links will certainly help you in building your plan:

· Chaos no more: Steps for building governance into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (white paper) - http://technet.microsoft.com/pt-pt/library/cc262879(en-us).aspx

· Plan Governance - http://technet.microsoft.com/pt-pt/library/cc263341(en-us).aspx

· SharePoint Products and Technologies governance checklist guide (white paper) - http://technet.microsoft.com/pt-pt/library/cc261826(en-us).aspx

· SharePoint Products and Technologies customization policy (white paper) - http://technet.microsoft.com/pt-pt/library/cc263010(en-us).aspx

· Sample template: SharePoint Products and Technologies governance plan - http://technet.microsoft.com/pt-pt/library/cc262943(en-us).aspx

· Governance tools to help your job - www.codeplex.com/governance

Remember that we are talking about Software science, and the Governance Plan will not fix all your problems, but will share with you many years of experience, making your experience with this product much better while improving the return of your (or your customer’s) investment.

See you soon …

Nuno Nunes