Monday, November 1, 2010

Building the Right Road Map

Written by Errin O'Connor, Published on Oct. 27, 2010 in the SD Times

Many organizations are either in the process of upgrading to SharePoint 2010, preparing to upgrade, or in the process of developing their “internal road map” for the future due to all the available functionality in SharePoint 2010. In the past couple weeks, I have had conversations around such topics as:

• Our organization has SharePoint 2007, but we also have LiveLink and want to move away from it to 2010. Where do we start?
• My healthcare organization has a ton of PII-related data in SharePoint 2007, and we want to clean it out before moving to 2010. How do we do that?
• SharePoint Designer 2010 blurs the lines of the Information Worker and the Development team, so what do we do about workflows? Should we go with SharePoint Designer, Visual Studio, Visio 2010 or another third-party solution?
• How do we start to develop our enterprise content types? We have a retention schedule, but it has 600 fields in it. How does that translate into SharePoint?
• We have had eRoom for five years and want to migrate to SharePoint 2010, but we want to change the navigational hierarchy and clean up our data prior to the move.
• Our organization has SharePoint 2003 and Project Server 2007. How do we properly implement new SharePoint 2010 sites?
• We have a ton of SQL Reporting Service reports built with SharePoint 2007, but our executives want reporting with dashboards and KPIs. How best should we implement PerformancePoint 2010?
• We have Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams, but where does development fit into the equation? How do we set up a support model and what are the true roles and responsibilities we should implement for SharePoint 2010?

These are just a few of the issues facing organizations today. Your IT (SharePoint and Information Architecture Strategy) road map is key. So many organizations out there planned to move off their file shares into SharePoint 2007 but never did... Why is that? Well, there are all sorts of reasons why, but I can tell you from speaking to clients every day that this is going to end up happening all over the country in the next 12–24 months.

Can we finally put the file shares to rest? I believe we can, but again, a road map is key. A spring cleaning of your file shares this fall and winter needs to happen, and the internal political struggles over who owns what content need to work themselves out.

Governance is something that just can’t be ignored when it comes to SharePoint. You are probably tired of reading monthly articles and takes on SharePoint governance, why it’s so important, and why the lack of it is so concerning. I am here to tell you governance in SharePoint is all encompassing. Governance doesn’t just cover items like how large your file upload size limits are or what quota sizes you’re going to allow into your SharePoint sites.

SharePoint Governance also covers:

• Your support teams (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3)
• SharePoint development and the related best practices
• Migration playbooks/strategies for getting away from file shares or other document management systems such as Documentum, LiveLink, eRoom, DocuShare, etc.
• My Site policies
• Content Type strategies
• Branding, or “look and feel”
• Integration with other systems
• Reporting, KPIs and dashboards
• Strategies for Power Users, and how to train the trainer

So building the right road map and support team for SharePoint is something that you must develop as soon as possible, and it should also fall under the umbrella of governance. Not just SharePoint governance, though, but your overall IT governance.

SharePoint 2010 is becoming the ecosystem it was promised. Whether it’s a large federal government institution, a Fortune 500 financial corporation or manufacturer, or a startup with 50 people trying to share documents and content, SharePoint has morphed from the “world’s largest Swiss Army knife” to something a whole lot more with SharePoint 2010’s release.

Develop your organization’s IT strategy and road map to not only include what you want to accomplish in 6–12 months but also in 24–36 months. Even if you’re not migrating completely off your file shares this year, but plan on doing it sometime next year, put a placeholder for it in your plan. Also, put placeholders in your road map for getting off all of “these other systems” and consolidate into SharePoint 2010.

SharePoint 2010 is so powerful that it can cause a lot of internal policy and political discussions, and raise concerns about internal IT changes, but that is a good thing, and it’s only going to continue to grow and snowball once SharePoint 2010 is implemented. So prepare for it and develop a road map with placeholders for future projects, even if they are a few years down the road.

Errin O’Connor is one of the leading SharePoint architects and evangelists in the U.S., and is the founder and chief executive officer for EPC Group, a leading SharePoint consulting firm.