Thursday, November 29, 2012

SharePoint 2013: What Should You Do? Where Are Your Currently? What is the Truth? Help! No B.S. Please


Have you ever seen the video where a guy in a cubicle (Office Space-esk) decides his computer software has put him over the edge? He takes his keyboard and gives the monitor a nice “wack” to nudge it into place after possibly not finding the right content or has maybe just had it with EMC or OpenText (Documentum and\or LiveLink)? I have heard others speculate he just couldn’t understand why his CIO purchased FileNet and why he had to get to work 45 minutes early every Friday to monitor Business Objects’ exports to find his sales reports for the week. (I’m only kidding, of course)… (The video in reference can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=510477178977350 just don’t blame it on SharePoint please)
I am going to try and take a very serious topic and try to make light of major issues while posing questions that you should ask of your organization and put it on your organization’s radar screen ASAP!

I am extremely grateful to be part of the AIIM Community and be able to share my thoughts and real life, from the trenches (pardon the SharePoint 2013 book plug, by Sam’s Publishing, a sector of Pearson…kidding), thoughts and recommendations.
Over the past 13 years, for which I have been able to be part of the SharePoint community, I can’t think of a time when so many organization around the globe have been seriously reviewing their I.T. roadmaps and at the same time so much hype and misinformation is being spewed for one reason or another.
We are in the midst of the approximate 3 year SharePoint release but what the big difference here is that a large number of organizations have not yet upgraded to version 4, SharePoint 2010, and are still on SharePoint 2007 (MOSS or WSS). If you’re familiar with some of my previous AIIM articles or have attended any of my seminars, I am not really one to sugar coat things or avoid telling things like they are…

It’s not that I am not trying to follow in suit or get along with the larger “SharePoint crowd” or not play by Microsoft’s hype cycles but I have never been paid commission for licenses, cared if one of my clients purchased  “Standard” or Enterprise” (only based on their needs) or picked up a SharePoint Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt or "nickname" along the way. So I will end my attempt at hilarity here and dig into this very special time we are in now but I wanted to set the stage a bit as it’s a time for some sense and practical knowledge from a voice with a pulse on the ground without an agenda.

We have SharePoint 2007 > What do we do?
1.     If you are on SharePoint 2007, should you skip 2010 and go to SharePoint 2013? (You first need to understand what you have, the answer is not, “yes – no doubt”….Really, it depends and more than likely (gasp), probably not until you take a deep look at yourself and do a health check and assessment)
I want to expand on question # 1 above… If you’re an organization who is currently running SharePoint 2007 (MOSS or WSS 3.0), what type of SharePoint platform do you have? (See questions below)
  • Do you have customizations?
    • Custom Web Parts
    • Custom Workflows
    • Even 3rd Party Tools \ Add-ins
  • Are you happy with your navigation \ hierarchy or has your organization changed in the past 4 years and you need to redesign your site structure?
    • This is one of the most important areas to look at in conjunction with site proliferation
  • Is your governance strategy not working and/or could it be improved?
    • Has that caused massive site proliferation?
      • Do you have 4 sites that do very similar things?
      • Have you broken the “SharePoint Golden Rule” = 1 document in 1 site and all other sites reference that document
    • Do you have a lot of sites that have permission inheritance broken?
    • Do you have a SharePoint Steering committee?
    • Do you have a SharePoint Code \ Configuration Review Board?
  • Is performance lacking? Do you have major performance issues are specific sites \ regions \ countries \ farms?
    • Do you have a global deployment
    • Are you utilizing language packs
    • Do you have publishing turned on and are you “pushing” content to other farms?
    • Do you have Riverbed or other network tools available?
  • Have you experienced serious user drop off?
    • Are users tired of SharePoint?
    • Have you stopped “promoting” SharePoint and its features and functionality?
      • Did you do an initial SharePoint “roadshow” and then after that hoped “the snowball would continue to roll down the hill?” (This is a typical item I see in organizations)
    • Have you experienced data loss due to not having a solid disaster recovery (DR) plan in place?
    • Do you require item level backups?
    • Are your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with the business lacking?
      • Has SharePoint become “too big to fail”?
  • Have you taken advantage of powerful features that are seamless with SharePoint like:
    • PerformancePoint
    • Excel Services
    • InfoPath
Note: Do you have reports or custom forms that need to be put into consideration?
1.     Are you looking to expand the capabilities of SharePoint 2007 and are wondering why you should not just jump to the SharePoint 2013 version to take advantage of powerful ECM \ RM features, Communities, Social Networking, Mobile, Browser Compatibility, etc.?
There are cases where a jump from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013 is a simple (double) upgrade and then there are other cases (which I personally see) where the 2007 to 2013 is really just more of a fresh start than a migration?

Honestly, there are very few cases, except for those organization who have literally just utilized SharePoint 2007, out-of-the-box, with it completely locked down (governance wise) from day 1 and you have no issues with what is currently implemented and want to take advantage of SharePoint 2013.

When you get to the point of saying, “ok, we have SharePoint 2007 and we know it needs improvements in its navigation \ taxonomy, security, need for improved search, site structure, and “xzy” needs to be improved, do you want to just go right to 2013 and then deal with these issues later?

Note:I beg you not to take the easy way out here…

We have all heard the “garbage in \ garbage out” discussions but this is similar to when a SharePoint implementation (of any version) does not take the bottom up approach in asking what type of content does our organization have and what are we wanting to access and store.
I could rant forever about all sorts of scenarios but if you are on SharePoint 2007 and are taking a hard look at going to SharePoint 2013 you should perform a requirements gathering or “health check and assessment” of your current SharePoint 2007 implementation to identify the “gotchas” before migrating 1 to 1 to SharePoint 2013.

I would advise you to take a hard look at your SharePoint 2007 environment, identify the areas of concern and tackle the issues such as navigation \ taxonomy updates as well as site provisioning, governance, DR, SLAs, as well as getting ready to manage custom “requests” from your user base as a 2007 to 2013 leap is literally night and day and you should have the right roadmap as well as user communication plan in place to successfully complete this effort.

We have SharePoint 2010 > What do we do?

If you currently have SharePoint 2010 implemented, you have more options than those organizations that are on 2007, but are not out of the woods because a lot of the system and information architecture issues that SharePoint 2007 farms (as mentioned in the section above) experienced are also prevalent in SharePoint 2010. This may quickly boil down to a conversation of what are the major gains in features and functionally your organization will gain by moving to SharePoint 2013 right away. I always like to step back and ask, “What is SharePoint 2010 being utilized for”?
The simplistic answer is SharePoint 2010 is more than likely being utilized in one of seven utilizations \ platforms:
  • Intranet Solution
  • Enterprise Content Management System
  • Knowledge Management Solution
  • Collaboration Solution
  • Internet-Facing or Extranet-Facing Solution
  • Business Process Automation Platform (i.e. Workflow)
  • Application Development Platform
Ideally and possibly more realistic within your organization, SharePoint currently may be utilized as a hybrid of one of the following as a “SharePoint Hybrid Service:”
  • Records Management Service
  • Workflow (Reusable) Service
  • Business Intelligence \ Reporting Service (Dashboards, Scorecards, etc.)
  • Collaboration Service
  • Intranet Service
  • Extranet Service
  • A possible Internet facing SharePoint Service
  • Mobile “Edge Device” Service
  • Learning Management System Service (Training)
  • Application Development Service
  • Corporate Communication Service
  • File Share Replacement Service
  • Social, or I prefer, a Professional Networking Service (My Sites, etc.)
  • Scanning Service (OCR) (Paperless \ Green Initiatives)
SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013 should be utilized as a Hybrid SharePoint Ecosystem and more of a baseline platform for your organization to access any and all material.

What Major Milestones or Considerations Should Your SharePoint 2007 or 2010 (Health Check & Assessment Initiative Contain (Reference: EPC Group’s Health Check)

The following items should be taken into consideration, by EPC Group’s recommendation, in any SharePoint 2007 or 2010 to SharePoint 2013 upgrade:
  • Architecture / Multiple Farms / Consolidation / Environments
  • Governance / Process Management of SharePoint Environments
  • Enterprise Project Management
  • Personalization / Configuration / Custom Requests
  • Collaboration vs. a File Archiving Mentality
  • Intuitive Navigation / Information Architecture
  • Global / Local Design
  • Forms / Taxonomy
  • Content Management Process
  • Security
  • Workflow / Process Automation
  • Business Intelligence / Dashboard
  • Meaningful Search
At a deeper level you should also take into consideration:
  • Improve collaboration with internal staff, project teams, and stakeholders,
  • Create a searchable central repository of business, project and marketing assets
  • Provide a central repository for firm-wide content and information
  • Provide a platform for enterprise content management
  • Replace shared drives with searchable, organized document repositories
  • Provide a platform business process and reporting dashboard
  • Provide easier and more timely access to the information employees need to get their work done
Most organizations do try and review these more topical and “easier” to understand questions but do not always finalize them due to time constraints. I completely understand time and budget constraints but EPC Group feels it is also critical to review the following items as part of this process:
  • Improve the ability to share and exchange information across the organization by providing an electronic publishing method that is easy for users to leverage
  • Improve the "time to talent," the speed with which new employees become productive
  • Capture knowledge of retiring employees in a collaborative environment
  • Improve overall portfolio performance and achieve strategic objectives
  • Achieving more efficient utilization of resources
  • Reduce program management cost per unit of program benefit due to better management of project schedules and more efficient resource allocation
  • Improving program benefit realization from new business opportunities pursued using cost savings
Note: SharePoint Server 2013 will no longer be divided into 2 separate licensing models as it was in SharePoint Server 2010 (being SharePoint Server “Standard” and SharePoint Server “Enterprise” ) as it will be the only “SharePoint Server 2013” with all features and functionalities built in the singular licensing model.