Monday, August 15, 2011

A "Phase 0" Approach to SharePoint 2010

By EPC Group - August 15, 2011

An approach that I have seen work well for a large number of organizations either implementing a new SharePoint 2010 enterprise implementation or possibly upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 is to complete a “Phase 0” initiative prior to rolling out a full blown Phase 1 project.

“Phase 0” is a term for a project that helps the organization take a deep look at themselves to develop a "SharePoint 2010 roadmap” and should be very forward looking into an organization’s I.T. strategy. SharePoint 2010 is a Platform that can support an unparalleled number of both business needs and your staff’s functionality requirements in terms of an application.

As part of my job as EPC Group’s CEO is to sit down with CIO’s, I.T. Directors, Legal and Compliance Department heads, and business owners to find out what exactly their current “state” is and what technology it is that they have implemented, how well it is working for their organization, and to discuss how SharePoint can assist them in providing real Return on Investment (ROI) for their organization.

I like to really step back from the technology (that being SharePoint) and just look at what the business is trying to accomplish and how I.T. is supporting their organization’s (really their end-user or clients) needs. This conversation and project methodology can take a million different twists and turns at the beginning, but it really comes down to how best I.T. can utilize their available budget and time constraints.

What applications, licensing, hardware, staff, and biggest business concern (or squeaky wheel) needs to be addressed. But this all has to be done the right way by developing a 24-36 month roadmap to take into consideration the ever changing technology or mobile world we have all been accustom too in this “we expect the information now” mindset.

A CIO or I.T. Director may be focused on an enterprise strategy where a “Legal and Compliance” department may be looking at records and how best to focus on implementing or enforcing a records retention schedule to lower its possible litigation exposure and simply get the organization’s “records” in order.

That begs the question, what is a record and is everyone on the same page about the importance of that record? Is I.T. currently focused on implementing an Enterprise Content Management (ECM or ERM) solution or rather to develop a “Portal” type solution to enhance the organizations collaboration between staff members? Is there a concern regarding the licensing model \ purchases (a possible existing Documentum, LiveLink, FileNet, or Internet solution) that is currently being utilized to meet a specific need or possilby being discussed and is a possible political landmine? (These need to be addressed).

Microsoft SharePoint is being utilized in most every major organization (in varying capacities) from Wells Fargo to Viacom (MTV) to the Department of State and at the Pentagon. It’s being used in varying capacities at pharmaceutical companies, most every branch of the U.S. Government, the world’s top financial institutions, and even at your local YMCA chapter. It’s becoming as common as Microsoft Word.

SharePoint needs a roadmap and a solid governance strategy as well as a support model and a configuration \ customization policy. You will need a training strategy (including train-the-trainer and power users) and to really look at where the organization is going in email (records) management as well as automating paper-based processes into workflows.

What is that big “quick win” you’re looking for in SharePoint? What is the ROI analysis you’re looking to provide? If you already have SharePoint implemented you may be looking at performance, redundancy in farms, what in the world a “cloud” solution could do for you and the many add-ins (3rd party SharePoint solutions) and security concerns you may need to address.

If you’re looking at replacing your existing document management system, Internet solutions, Intranet solution, or file shares with SharePoint or adding mobile capabilities to your organization you may be asking an entire different set of questions.

This is why a “Phase 0” project can be so valuable but even if your organization is in Phase 1 or Phase 2 of an existing enterprise implementation, it’s never too late to ask these questions and level-set on your roadmap or “pop the hood” to do a health check and assessment (or ROI check) on what you currently have going.

Written by the EPC Group team of experts.