Monday, November 28, 2011

SharePoint Consulting - Developing a SharePoint 2010 Steering Committee

Within an enterprise SharePoint 2010 deployment, a key best practice to ensure your organization’s long-term SharePoint’s success, is the creation of a SharePoint Steering committee and engaging and\or including your organizaton’s key business and technology leaders to this committee. The SharePoint Steering Committee is the overall governing body of Microsoft SharePoint that ensures the technology is implemented so that it will fit the business and functional needs of the organization for years to come as well as to ensure the decisions that are made will not affect future upgrades of the technology.

I have been working with my senior architecture team at EPC Group on a series of white papers to provide to the SharePoint community through our SharePoint Consulting efforts and lessons learned.

First, determine who the key stakeholders are that should be involved in the SharePoint Steering committee. Initially, develop a somewhat generic forum to discuss the phase 1 and future phase 2 (phase 3, phase 4, etc.) issues as the committee will learn over time how best to work together and will identify internal committee roles that will work best within the organization. Typically, these are Business Leaders, IT Managers, Key Technology Stakeholders, Legal, and Records Management owners, etc.

EducateIs is key that the SharePoint Services Team demo to the SharePoint Steering Committee any existing solutions that have been created in phase 1 and discuss the types of requests that are coming in to the SharePoint Services Team to help the Steering Committee understand the overall scale of the SharePoint, its growth and the types of business units within the organization making the requests. Ongoing demos should continue to be demoed to the SharePoint Steering Committee to reflect any updates or new projects.

SharePoint 2010 Steering Committee Best Practices
The SharePoint Steering committee is comprised of key stakeholders which oversees the strategic service direction and provides policy guidance.

The SharePoint Steering Committee will be comprised of a number of roles through the organization including the SharePoint Services Team Senior Management and SharePoint Stakeholders. SharePoint Stakeholders are defined as those in the business units which rely on the SharePoint Services as a part of their business operation. The committee will meet regularly with defined success criteria and measurable goals based on project definition, design and timeline.

The SharePoint Steering Committee should meet regularly to revisit structure, responsibilities and membership to ensure maximum effectiveness as well as potential scope changes for the organization to address changes in business conditions and technology.

The role of the SharePoint Steering Committee will be to:

•Aligning SharePoint initiatives to overall business goals.
•Set strategic and functional guidance to the SharePoint Platform \ Service(s) Team.
•Continually assess SharePoint project viability.
•Determine corporate standards.
•Approve all governance, standards and policies.
Note: With large enterprise organizations, other business units or subsidiaries worldwide may adopt some of their own regional governance policies (i.e. development, etc.) and the SharePoint Steering Committee will be responsible for taking these local considerations into the overall SharePoint 2010 Governance to ensure SharePoint governance stays up-to-date and relevant.

•Approve content publishing policies and assigning departmental and functional ownership.
•Approve SharePoint branding/usability/look and feel.
•Approve changes to the SharePoint Governance Document.
•Review any 3rd party SharePoint Software Vendor purchase requests to ensure that any large licensing purchases are taken into consideration at the enterprise level.
•Ensure the SharePoint training strategies continue to fit the needs of the organization.

An overview of Best Practices responsibilities for the an organization’s SharePoint Steering Committee are as follows:

Roles and Their Responsibilities

SharePoint Steering Committee Chair PersonResponsible for Chairing the SharePoint Steering Committee and owning sign-offs and casting the overall vote or decision should any impasse occur.

SharePoint Platform or Services OwnerThe overall platform or service owner of SharePoint who is responsible for all SharePoint Product and Technology Efforts. Leads the SharePoint Steering Committee meetings and is the manager of the SharePoint Services Team.

SharePoint Services Team Manager
The manager of the SharePoint Services team who is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the SharePoint Services team and delegating the incoming requests coming into the team from the different business units.

Records Management Representative
A key stakeholder for Records Management within the organization and ensures the technology and business decisions being made for the SharePoint System continue to follow the records management standards within the organization.

Development Team(s) Representative
A key stakeholder or manager representing the SharePoint development teams and providing input on the continued development and how best the custom SharePoint Solutions should be managed and added into the SharePoint platform (i.e. continuing the development of a SharePoint as a Service Concept I have written about in the past).

SharePoint Training Representative
A key stakeholder from training that will continue to monitor the ongoing activities of the SharePoint 2010 initiative while continuing to deliver training to the different audiences to meet the ongoing and possible changing needs and requirements of the SharePoint user base within the organization.

Help Desk or Service Desk Representative
A key stakeholder from your organization’s help desk \ service desk or I.T. support staff that will monitor the activities of SharePoint and report back to the committee on metrics regarding support calls, possible resolutions to reoccurring issues, and ensure they continue to be properly trained and proactive regarding the overall SharePoint Services within the organization.

SharePoint Governance, as we all know is one of the major keys to any organization's SharePoint long-term success, and implementing a SharePoint 2010 Steering Committee is something that myself and my team at EPC have helped to establish within orgnaizations and its something that is overlooked in at least 80% of enterprise SharePoint implementations.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Best Practices for SharePoint Cultural Change Management - From the SharePoint Consulting Trenches

Originally Posted on EPC Group’s AIIM.ORG SharePoint Expert Blog

By Errin O'Connor, Founder & CEO at EPC and the EPC Group Team of Experts

I wanted to share with the AIIM Community the overview of a White Paper that myself and my team at EPC have been working on by studying approximately 35 enterprise SharePoint 2010 implementations we have completed between March 2011 and November 2011.

It is not unusual for those implementing SharePoint 2010 to experience a fair amount of change and conflict as part of their deployment process. Other than e-mail, no other product that you will implement will have as wide or personal “touch and feel” as SharePoint 2010 if you intend to implement this product in a wide, deep, and pervasive way. When SharePoint Server 2010 is implemented in your environment, you’re not just implementing a simple document management or Web-based collaboration solution. You’re implementing change; Culture change. Business process change and Information management change. Usually, when change happens within an organization, power balances get shifted and conflicts can ensue.

Understanding Change in a Corporate Environment – EPC Group

It was once thought that a manager could simply tell everyone that they were going to do things a certain way and everyone would salute and follow. In today’s corporate environment, that is a misconception. In fact, there are several misconceptions about change that need to be recognized.

The first misconception is that a great solution, like SharePoint 2010, will be accepted just because it is a great solution with real ROI. When it comes to SharePoint, it might be a great software product with a lot of helpful features that solve many existing information management and collaboration problems, but that doesn’t mean it will be readily accepted. The fact is that even some of the best ideas are not readily accepted. Remember the old Sony Beta technology for videocassettes? Sony had a clearly superior technology to the VHS videocassettes, but due to poor marketing and other factors, the VHS became the adopted standard. If we borrow from family theory for just a moment, family therapists will tell you that the family system will put pressure on the individual who is changing to remain the same—even if the change is for the better. Human beings are wired to resist change. Just because it’s a good (or even a great) idea doesn’t mean the idea will be automatically accepted.

Another misconception is that all you have to do is explain the new idea and the explanation, by itself, will remove the resistance to change. Explain it, perform some training activities, and get people excited and you’re done. No follow-up is needed. No care and feeding is warranted. If you’re thinking this way, please be prepared for a long, sustained effort. The reality is that introducing change in an organization requires persistence. You need to be in this for the long haul if you’re going to be successful.

New software roll-outs always represent change at the desktop. (You need to consider SharePoint to encompass a similar effect as updating the Office suite at the desktop because of its pervasive and persistent touch and feel.) Have you ever rolled out a new software product only to find that, over time, the product is not persistently used and the old methods are still the primary methods of accomplishing work? In many organizations, change can be an illusion while the old reality persists.

A third misconception is that implementing change slowly while building grassroots support will result in nothing getting done. In fact, the opposite is true. What research has shown is that while bottom-up change is more gradual, it addresses resistance more effectively. The emphasis in bottom-up change is on participation and on keeping people informed about what is going on, so uncertainty and resistance are minimized. Furthermore, research has revealed that people are not resistant to change; they are resistant to being changed. People are better at coping with change if they have participation in bringing the change to reality. This is why—with or without grassroots support—the best way to introduce SharePoint into your environment is through a gradual, collaborative process where your users, managers, and executives all have input into the overall deployment objectives and direction.

Common Types of Change in a Corporate Environment

Experts in change management tell us that organizations can experience several common types of change:

•Structural Change. This type of change looks at the organization as a set of functional parts that need to be restructured. The parts are re-configured (re-organized) to achieve greater overall performance. Mergers and acquisitions are two examples of structural change.

•Cost Cutting. This type of change focuses on the elimination of nonessential activities or on other methods of squeezing costs out of operations.

•Process Change. This type of change focuses on altering how tasks and activities are accomplished. Examples include re-engineering processes or implementing a new decision-making framework. The introduction of new software products onto the desktop clearly falls into this type of change.

•Cultural Change. This type of change focuses on the human side of the organization, such as a company’s general approach to doing business or the relationship between its management and employees.

Cultural change nearly always involves relational change. Since relationships are built on personal interaction, how people communicate and interact with each other helps build the culture. Introducing SharePoint Products and Technologies into your environment introduces culture changes because SharePoint Products and Technologies introduce new communication paths and new ways of relating to co-workers, partners, vendors, and customers.

SharePoint represents change in three out of the four areas: structural, process, and cultural. It is structural in that the major parts of the business (however this is defined) will need to adjust their work habits to incorporate SharePoint’s features into their daily work routines. For example, end-users will be managing Web sites while power users will be managing a range of Web site administrative tasks including the security of the information that resides in SharePoint. Another example is managing documents in a library versus a file server. This is a significant change that will be felt by everyone in the organization.

SharePoint represents huge process change because we’re now going to ask everyone in the organization to (more or less) get on the same page when it comes to information management and information process management. And since SharePoint has a huge touch and feel at the desktop level, the process changes will be experienced by nearly everyone in your organization who uses a desktop computer.

Finally, SharePoint represents significant cultural changes because of the way it handles information and the new communication paths that are created by its introduction. Collaboration moves from e-mail threads to team sites. Discussions are handled online while offline synchronization involves Microsoft Office Outlook or Groove.

Workflows introduce an electronic way of gaining document approvals, and communication about approvals involves both e-mail and the browser. Hence, implementing SharePoint Products and Technologies in your environment represents significant, pervasive change. If this aspect of your deployment is not managed correctly, the chances are increased that your deployment will either fail or not be as successful as initially envisioned.

How Different Individuals Accept Change

Not everyone in your organization will accept change in the same way or at the same pace. This thinking has been around since the early 1900s, but was refined in 1953 by E.M. Rogers in his book, Diffusion of Innovations. Rogers defined diffusion as the process by which innovation is communicated through channels to the members over time. In this thinking, diffusion included four main elements:

•Innovation. The new idea is incubated and defined.

•Communication Channel. The methods or paths that messages flow over between individuals. Time Three factors were mentioned here, but for our purposes, the innovation’s rate of adoption is the one factor that is most important. How fast the new idea is accepted and utilized is part of the diffusion process.

•Social System. The set of interrelated groups that are working toward a common goal.
The overall thrust was that a new idea or an innovation needed to be defined, communicated, and, over time, adopted within the social system of the organization. From a diffusion viewpoint, SharePoint represents the new idea or the innovation.

The communication channels that currently exist in your organization will need to be utilized to introduce SharePoint Products and Technologies to your environment. The rate of adoption will likely depend on how adept you are at working with the five groups described below and meeting each of their needs. And a solid understanding of your social system, the stakeholder’s needs, and your overall culture will enable you to manage the potential pitfalls along the way.

As you look to implement SharePoint in your organization, you’ll need to be aware that these four factors cannot be avoided: You must define, communicate, be patient, and work within the social structure of your organization if you’re going to be successful.

The theory of diffusion holds that a new idea will be adopted faster when the following is present:

•The new idea is perceived to have more value than the current system.
•The new idea is compatible with existing values, past experiences, and current needs.
•The new idea is not overly complex.
•The new idea is testable before its production implementation.
•The new idea results in visible, measurable positive outcomes.
Critical mass is achieved once enough individuals in the organization have adopted the new idea so that the idea is commonplace and self-sustaining. In short, critical mass means the new idea will survive. The problem with achieving critical mass is that there is a time lag in how fast new ideas are adopted. This is why it is important to understand the different groups that naturally exist in your environment as you try to introduce SharePoint Server 2010 into your environment:

•Innovators. This group makes up about 2.5 percent of the overall population. They accept new ideas quickly and need little persuasion. They often like new ideas simply because they are new. They tend to be venturesome, daring, and risk-takers. They also tend to have the financial resources to absorb a loss if the new idea proves to be unprofitable. Finally, this group has the ability to cope with a high degree of uncertainty about the innovation along with the time to understand and apply the technical knowledge the innovation represents.

•Early Adopters. This group represents about 13.5 percent of the overall population. They are open to new ideas, but will accept them only after serious consideration. This group usually holds the greatest degree of opinion and thought leadership within an organization. They tend to look for the strategic opportunity an innovation can provide. They serve as role models for others in the organization and they tend to be highly respected.

•Early Majority. This group represents about 33 percent of the overall population. These folks frequently interact with one another and tend to be followers, not leaders. They want to see that others have been successful with the innovation before they adopt it themselves. Critical mass is usually achieved once this group has adopted the new idea.

•Late Majority. This group is also about 33 percent of the overall population. These folks tend to be skeptical and cautious and will usually adopt new ideas only when pressured to do so.

•Laggards. This is the last group to adopt a new idea, which by the time they adopt it, is a current or fading idea. This group possesses no opinion leadership at all. They tend to be isolated and suspicious of new ideas and will filter these ideas through referential points in the past. Their acceptance of a new idea results from other’s pressure coupled with the certainty that the innovation cannot fail.
Managing Environmental Change - EPC GroupOnce we understand the basic ideas in Rogers’ (and others’) work, there is an opportunity to apply how change should be managed when it comes to doing a SharePoint implementation.

First, in some environments, SharePoint 2010 will be perceived as a huge step forward by the decision-makers because of the features and benefits inherent in the program, such as collaboration, information aggregation, or publishing. Many customers with whom we work don’t have a problem seeing the obvious advantages that SharePoint brings to the organization. Yet sometimes, there is little grassroots, managerial, or information technology support; when this support is absent, the task of working within existing communication channels and the social culture will be foundational to success.

Second, SharePoint 2010 is rarely seen as a system that is incompatible with the organization’s values and goals. Because the system is so flexible, it can be used by nearly any organization. We have yet to encounter a customer who found that SharePoint was inherently in conflict with his organization’s goals and values.

Third, SharePoint 2010 is sometimes thought to be a system that is highly intuitive for non-technical people who work with it on a day-to-day basis. This assumption needs to be challenged. While SharePoint’s interface is rather easy to use and is somewhat self-explanatory, we still find that users need a solid base of education on how to use the product and the scenarios in which certain features would be used.

Some customers have balked at purchasing SharePoint until they knew their user-base would be adequately educated to use the software appropriately. In short, everyone in your organization will need education if you are planning on obtaining a robust Return on Investment (ROI) for the money your organization has spent on SharePoint licenses.

Fourth, SharePoint 2010 can be (and should be) tested in a proof-of-concept (POC) before it is deployed into production. POCs can be great tools to learn about a new software product and simulate a production environment. In our experience, however, the danger is that the POC often morphs into a production environment because the test team members tend to really test SharePoint, find that they like it, and then dump all sorts of mission-critical information into the POC.

After that, they have little interest in pulling out the information and re-doing their work in a production environment. So while a POC or some type of pre-production test is a good idea, you should also have clear agreements about when the POC will start and stop and the expectations that users will have regarding the information they have placed into their POC sites.

Finally, the ability to measure SharePoint’s ROI is probably the highest pain point in this entire discussion. How “success” is defined is elusive and this results in measurements that tend to be more emotional or anecdotal in nature as opposed to being more structured and objective. But there are some ideas you can work with to help understand if your implementation is successful or not.

First, count the number of site collections in your farm. Just add up the number of “sites” on your content databases and this will be a rough equal to the actual number of site collections in your farm.

Second, you can measure database growth patterns and determine if the growth rate is what you had hoped it would be.

Third, you can count the number of people who have attended SharePoint training as another metric of success. Or you could use one or more of these metrics plus others that you develop yourself and then use those numbers to determine if your implementation is successful or not. While still a subjective measure, it will add some statistical support to your conclusions.

Most organizations don’t roll out SharePoint to everyone on the same day. Most IT personnel would strongly advise against this. Given that there are five types of people in your organization (from an adoption-of-innovation standpoint), best practice is to find one or two groups that like to work with new technology and roll out SharePoint just to those groups. Not only will they enjoy having a new technology with which to work, but you will have the opportunity to refine and mature your rollout processes so that by the time you’re rolling out to the Early Majority, you’ve fixed the bugs in the rollout process and have better defined how to use SharePoint in your environment and how to present its usage to your users.

So find out who your Innovators are in your environment. Go to them with SharePoint. Let them use it and get excited about it. They tend to be opinionated, so get their feedback on how to use SharePoint better in your environment and then use them as your first “win.” Others will see what is happening, the Early Adopters will likely want to get going with SharePoint, and your adoption will spread.

In EPC Group's experience working with customers, most have a hard time throttling their deployment because the demand for this product is so strong. Don’t give in to the large demand. Stay methodical about your deployment and ensure that you move along at the rate you had hoped. Don’t let demand push you into going too fast. If you do, you might find that the demand was more vocal than serious. Going more slowly will help you resolve nagging problems early in the deployment so that those in the Early and Late Majority groups will have better experiences once they start using SharePoint.

Having said all this, it is highly probable that you’ll roll out SharePoint Products and Technologies to a departmental team composed of people from all five groups. If possible, try to avoid this scenario. But if you must roll out to a group that is mixed in their attitudes about adopting SharePoint Products and Technologies, then please take the time to communicate with them about the “how’s and whys” of SharePoint Products and Technologies and ask for their input and help in adopting SharePoint Server 2010. While bottom-up changes take longer, the resistance will be less and, in the end, you’ll have a more successful deployment of SharePoint in your environment.

Understanding Power Dynamics and Change

If you’re like most information technology professionals, it is likely that you don’t spend much time thinking about the power dynamics in your organization. Yet, there is nothing more demoralizing than feeling you have a creative idea or a unique skill to help solve a significant problem and then encountering resistance to your ideas from individuals within your organization. You might even be someone who has become disillusioned and cynical about the realities of how managers and peers improperly use their power in ways that negatively affect you.

What is power? Power is the potential of an individual (or group) to influence another individual or group. Influence, in turn, is the exercise of power to change the behavior, attitudes, and/ or values of that individual or group. It is easier to change behavior than attitudes, and in turn, it is easier to change attitudes than values. Power and influence are always at work within organizations. For example, most organizations experience conflict over resources, schedules, or personnel. These conflicts are inevitable and their resolutions often require the intervention of someone with influence and power. Organizations consist of individuals and groups with divergent interests who must figure out how to reconcile these interests.

Power comes from several sources within an organization, and those sources are as follows:

•Formal Authority. Formal authority refers to a person’s position in the organization hierarchy. The higher in the corporate hierarchy or the greater the scope and scale of responsibilities, the more power that person will have. Most workers today don’t respond well to the raw use of formal authority.

•Relevance. Relevance refers to a person’s ability to align work activities with corporate priorities. The more relevant a person is in his or her job, the more powerful that person will be. For example, in a company that focuses on innovation, the vice president of research and development will likely yield power and influence that is beyond her stated job description.

•Centrality. Those occupying central positions in important networks in organizations tend to have power because others in the organization must depend on them for access to resources or for help in getting critical tasks accomplished. Hence, a person’s position in the workflow can yield power or influence beyond a stated job description or place in the organizational chart.

•Autonomy. The greater one’s ability to exercise discretion or freedom in his position, the more power and influence that person will have within the organization. These people generally do not need to seek out approval from a superior. Tasks that tend to be novel or highly technical tend to have considerable autonomy, since it is difficult to develop guidelines or rules on how the work should be done.

•Visibility. Those whose job activities tend to be highly visible to other powerful
people within the organization will tend to have more power than those whose job
performance is less obvious.

•Expertise. Those who possess technical expertise or hard-to-find skills typically are people who are in a position to influence the opinions and behavior of others. This is because others need to rely on their expertise or skills to accomplish their own goals and objectives.

Understanding Specific Changes that SharePoint IntroducesFor those who are new to SharePoint, an immediate change will be how documents are accessed and consumed. At present, many companies have shared network drives that host large data sets with hundreds or even thousands of folders with tens of thousands of documents. It is not uncommon to hear of shared network drives that host a terabyte or more of data, much of it redundant, old, outdated, and unusable. So, two problems immediately present themselves in this scenario.

First, as SharePoint is increasingly used, users will not access the shared network drive to work with a document. Instead, they will access the document using a URL namespace via their browser or their Office client. The catch is that it’s difficult to use the Office client to access a document library until the user has manually created a Web folder client connection to the document library, or the user has created a mapped drive to the document library, or the user has visited the library and worked with documents in such a manner as to have the Web folder client connection automatically created in their My Network Places on their desktop.

This need to “visit-first” in order to obtain a shortcut route to the document library can be frustrating for your users.

Logically, the shared drive’s contents will likely not be hosted in the same document library. In nearly all scenarios, this shared drive’s content will be re-hosted in SharePoint spanning many, many document libraries. So, what once was a single drive mapping for the end-user that resulted in wading through countless folders to find their documents now becomes accessing information through a plethora of Web folder client connections while learning to manage documents across many different document libraries and sites.

Governance and Potential ConflictsIt is very important that proper governance is for the new SharePoint environment is in place. Without strong governance, you’ll likely encounter at least three major conflicts in your SharePoint deployment:

•Confusion about where information should reside
•Confusion about how information is to be handled
•Confusion about who makes which decisions in SharePoint

Knowing Where to Put Information

You cannot assume that users will know where their information should be hosted in your SharePoint environment. Without communicating a corporate-wide set of expectations about where information goes in SharePoint, users will be left to make the decision on their own and you’ll find that each one will have a different idea as to where their own information should reside.

If your organization can’t bring itself to make core governance decisions, then conflict is bound to erupt based on the lack of direction for your SharePoint deployment. Because users will decide where their information goes, they will necessarily end up negotiating where they will collaborate within SharePoint.

Someone in your organization needs to make some high-level decisions about where information will go and who will manage it. These decisions need to be communicated and then enforced if you plan on avoiding conflict surrounding where information goes in SharePoint.

Knowing How Information Is to Be Handled

In most organizations, there are different kinds of information with different security levels. For example, payroll information is often highly secured, whereas public Web site information is generally less secured.

When users are developing information within SharePoint, they cannot be assumed to know how their information should be managed. For many, the prospect of managing and securing their information is a new task; in the absence of direction, they’re bound to violate some unwritten rule or expectation. Best practice is to have an organization wide information architecture from which document-type definitions can be described and then implemented in SharePoint.

Knowing Who Makes Which Decisions

At the core of your governance plan is the need to decide who can make decisions within your SharePoint implementation. A myriad of configuration settings are available for manipulation at four basic levels: farm, Web application, site collection, and site. Generally speaking, SharePoint farm administrators will manage the options at the farm and Web application levels, whereas power users with advanced training will manage the options at the site collection level. Nearly everyone in your organization who is involved with content creation or management will manage configuration values at the site level.

Your governance plan needs to specify which people and positions will be able to make decisions and commit changes at each of these four levels. Planning this out before you deploy SharePoint Server 2010 is the optimal method of ensuring success for your SharePoint deployment.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

10 SharePoint 2010 Methodology Best Practices Articles from EPC Group

10 SharePoint 2010 Methodology Best Practices Articles from EPC Group

EPC Group's Summary of Methodologies on our Award Winning Approach to Enterprise SharePoint 2010 Deployments.The original AIIM.ORG SharePoint Expert Blog posts an also be found at:
"Methodologies and Enterprise Blog Strategy Posts by EPC Group's CEO Errin O'Connor as well as the EPC Group team of Senior SharePoint Architects, Developers, and Business Analysts"

Article 1) Why Large Enterprise and Global SharePoint Deployments Will Not Work in the Cloud“Everyone is going to want one of these,” Gary Dahl half-joking said. Gary Dahl is an author and advertising executive, but more importantly, the inventor of the Pet Rock. A Cloud-based SharePoint... Link to Article: (

Article 2) Is Records Management and Usability, Together, Even Possible?Why are 75% of the organizations in the United States (with an enterprise presence) looking at implementing a records management solution and why are they drawn so much to a particular Microsoft platform... Link to Article: (

Article 3)SharePoint 2010 Web Standards, Accessibility, and Usability Quick Reference GuideThe following is a SharePoint 2010 Web Standards and Usability Quick Reference Guide following EPC Group’s best practices for SharePoint GUI development (master page) and configuration best practice...Link to Article: ( )

Article 4)Selecting the Right SharePoint Consulting Firm: Comparing Apples to Apples, or Apples to OrangesBackground on One of Many Similar Situations I Have Come Across in the Past 24 Months As a disclaimer to this article, I do own a SharePoint consulting firm, EPC, and am writing this ... Link to Article: (

Article 5)The SharePoint 2010 “Magical Mystery Tour”The Perceptions vs. Reality of I.T. and New Technologies When discussing with a client who is considering or beginning the process of rolling out SharePoint 2010, I sometimes feel like a broken... Link to Article (

Article 6) A “Phase 0” Approach for SharePoint 2010An 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... Link to Article: (

Article 7) Navigating the “World of SharePoint 2010” and All It Encompasses - Part 1Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is one of the most popular software programs \ platforms in history and with it has come a community with a near cult following as well as a large number of extremely powerful... Link to Article: (

Article 8) SharePoint 2010 - A Learning Management System (LMS) for Government\DoD, Private Sector\Fortune 1000, and Educational Institutions (SP vs. Blackboard)Your organization more than likely already owns SharePoint licenses and may be using it for collaboration, the Intranet, an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) \ Enterprise Records Management (ERM)... Link to Article:(

Article 9) Mobility, Browser Compatibility, Compliance, and its Continued Dominance in the Marketplace... Like a stock trader who has purchased a “put” on a stock in hopes the stock value will decrease, I continue to see articles and blogs every now and then asking questions and making statements on do... Link to Article: (

Article 10)Developing a Hybrid SharePoint 2010 ERM \ ECM Platform (SPaaS)In developing any Enterprise Records Management (ERM) or (ECM) Platform, the key to long-term success is your organizations ability to develop a roadmap that takes into consideration the hybrid type... Link to Article: ( additional information contact EPC Group at or

Monday, November 14, 2011

SharePoint Deployment Tips - Commonsense Comments from a Near-Decade's Worth of SharePoint Diving

SharePoint Deployment Tips -
Commonsense Comments from a Near-Decade's Worth of SharePoint Diving
SharePoint Pro Magazine Article Originally Posted Here
Posted @ 10/28/2011 5:08 PM By Caroline Marwitz

"SharePoint is typically one of the most high profile deployments," says Errin O'Connor, founder and head of EPC Group. "People have their jobs on the line. EPC has a unique approach to helping organizations deploy SharePoint that allows companies to be like partners."

Based on experience that goes back to the original STS 2001, and bolstered by projects such as helping Chevron, Continental Airlines, the US Naval Air Command, and the National Institutes of Health with their SharePoint deployments, O'Connor's SharePoint knowledge runs deep. In fact, you could get lost for days in it. Here are a few tips for success gleaned from a short conversation with O'Connor and Miranda Price, EPC Group's Vice President:

1. Approach a project with the mindset of SharePoint as a service and as a platform. "It's a hybrid solution. It's not only an intranet--if you want to transform it into a records management solution, you'll be ready."

2. Engage power users. "Companies put their budget into administrator training but you need to develop the folks that implement SharePoint for a specific reason--they tend to implement it for other things, too."

3. Keep SharePoint simple. It's important to follow site provisioning and permissions best practices. "You can end up defeating the purpose of SharePoint if you have five sites that do the same thing or store the same documents. We try to ensure there's an approval process to create sites."

4. Governance, governance, governance. "We like to set up governance committees. Governance is thrown around a lot-it ranges from provisions, security, roadmap, content types, to end-user training. It consists of two parts-infrastructure information management (server side-load balancing and DR) and information management (site collections, site creation)."

5. Don't re-invent the (training) wheel. Re-use training--a centralized training model can do wonders. Consider doing an organization-agnostic training for all departments--implement once, take a roadmap approach.

6. Get a store. "We have a private cloud with a private app store where folks in the organization can go in and see what other departments have done and go in, download a web part, code, business requirements in the documentation--it's like a solutions gallery where you can get help or support."

7. Get organized. "We saw the NIH buying AvePoint, Idera, Colligo, three or four times over--we worked with all their vendors so they could buy a solution one time and reuse it."
To learn more about EPC Group, see the company's website.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why Large Enterprise and Global SharePoint Deployments Will Not Work in the Cloud - AIIM.ORG SharePoint Expert Blog

Expert AIIM Article: Why Large Enterprise and Global SharePoint Deployments Will Not Work in the Cloud

Original AIIM.ORG Post Located Here

By Errin O'Connor, Founder & CEO at EPC
November 10, 2011 - 6:17 AM

“Everyone is going to want one of these,” Gary Dahl half-joking said. Gary Dahl is an author and advertising executive, but more importantly, the inventor of the Pet Rock.

A Cloud-based SharePoint Server 2010 enterprise-wide (i.e. Fortune 1000 sized company) and\or globally implemented deployment simply will not work. It may be initially appealing, but without the organization’s Information Technology executives completely owning the environment and its governance, customization, and federation strategy it will be a long-term failure and future migration project (from the external cloud into an internally hosted Private Cloud).

An enterprise SharePoint Server 2010 platform implemented in a Private Cloud, an environment internal to the organization with total control of its servers, permissions \ security, customization and deployment policies, and federation between line-of-business systems and various data sources is the only deployment platform global and large enterprise organization should focus on.

There is a place for a cloud-based SharePoint 2010 deployment in small to medium sized businesses who only mostly require out-of-the-box features and functionality and siloed \ departmental permission strategies. Organizations like these can utilize a cloud-based solution to not only be quickly up and running on a SharePoint 2010 solution but take advantage of the lower cost of ownership.

There may be some folks jumping up and down stating that a SharePoint, cloud-based hosted SharePoint environment, can easily scale to 5,000 or 15,000 users and I don’t doubt it can, but what does “scale to” really mean? SharePoint 2010 should be implemented as a Service with a Platform \ Hybrid methodology in mind. It will evolve to more than 1 or 2 specific business or functional requirements. It may be a collaboration and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution initially, but will eventually have workflows, executive dashboards \ KPIs, Social Networking, and probably many other capabilities. SharePoint 2010 seamless federation and single sign-on integration with other business systems is a core requirement of many enterprise and global companies.

It is very challenging to federate a hosted SharePoint 2010 solution with your organizations other internally hosted applications and data. It is also a challenge to deploying custom SharePoint-based applications your internal I,T, staff may have built within the cloud.

The SharePoint “App Store” concept is something of beauty but it is limited in scope in a hosted SharePoint cloud. There may be a set of reusable web parts the cloud may offer that may appeal to the masses, like an image rotator web part or commonly applicable solution for Policies and Procedures; simple things like weather or aggregation web parts but they are still mostly limited to data and content within the cloud or data that is publically accessible.

When you are working with business and functional requirements of enterprise and global organizations, you are also going to run across requirements wildcards such as:

•Countries who have issues with storing data in US-based data centers who must adhere to the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Patriot Act.

•Organizations who store HIPPA-related data and\or PHI and PII sensitive data.

•The storage of tax related documents and the way that content must be tracked and secured.

•The administrative access of the cloud hosting company (as they still can probably give themselves access, if desired, which can open the firm who is hosting their organization’s SharePoint deployment and content there up to possible litigation).

•Wanting to deploy and host custom applications built on SharePoint within the cloud environment | Deploying custom web parts built internally

•Federating massive active directory environments to a SharePoint cloud

•Federating internal data sources and other line of business systems to the external cloud

•Implementing Executive Dashboards and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that pull from multiple data sources including those that are non-SharePoint based

•Deploying custom workflows that may have multiple “swim lanes” and may cross and need to access these multiple data sources

•Managing your organizations future SharePoint Mobile Experience and related "edge devices"

•Sensitive or Highly sensitive data

◦Both in the private sector as well as in government, there is data that is highly sensitive and possibly top secret. This goes without saying, but you must take your organizations governing laws as well as retention and access control policies into consideration at all times.

◦This includes information security related to applications hosted on the platform for which your data is stored

Myself and my firm at EPC Group have also run across Countries and International Laws that prohibit the storage or access of content outside the borders of their country. We have dealt with this in places such as Germany and many countries in Africa where the ability to search data cannot return results either inside or outside (depending on the scenario, internal or external) of the country.

I believe that the Private Cloud, internally hosted and mostly on virtual platforms, is the only real solution that large enterprise and global organizations should rely on to meet their current and also future I.T. roadmap for SharePoint Server 2010 as its capabilities lead to SharePoint becoming a hybrid ecosystem within most of these organizations.