In my article last month, I wrote about SharePoint strategy, specifically around alignment and creating a journey that works for your organization. In our experience, we have seen this as something that is critical for long-term enterprise SharePoint success.
It goes without saying that deploying SharePoint as an enterprise solution should be the goal for your organization. One of the questions sent to me on the article was exactly what I intended this follow-up article to be: How can businesses work together to define a common goal that is widely accepted, adopted and managed?
Defining a common goal will inevitably mean different things when it comes to SharePoint, because SharePoint means so many things to each person that uses it. To me, defining the right common goal is critical to success, similar to the criticality of having a destination when going on a road trip; how will you know when you’ve arrived if you don’t have a destination and a map to get you there? When I speak to clients and audiences, my advice is always the same: Create a SharePoint environment that will be the place where business gets done, not just the place for people to go to find a document or some archived information.
In order to get to that common goal, we need someone to take ownership of the project or program, ideally someone like a CIO who has been involved in setting the road map for the organization and can take responsibility for SharePoint overall. Additionally, this individual will have the required contacts throughout the business to communicate the potential “future” of the organization. That owner can then assemble the right team and pass the day-to-day tasks on to his program or project manager.
With that manager in place, the CIO can stay in touch for regular updates and get more involved as required. This is critical for long-term success and adoption.
For the CIO and his manager, the next task is working together (with a select business unit or units) to define the initial functionality and pilot project that will prove the concept and build momentum internally. Once the pilot project is fundamentally set, the team can meet with business units to define their needs and requirements. They can also create a plan that makes sense to everyone, meaning a commitment and sign-off for the functionality that will be deployed, as well as a training plan. Remember, this is a process that will require a series of meetings and consultations, so be patient when defining these items. Obtaining this commitment allows business units and users to realize what the true purpose of SharePoint will be.
Of course, your team of two (or perhaps a few more at this stage) will quickly become time-constrained, and you will need to bring in additional resources. When looking for resources to add to your team, remember that selecting like-minded individuals with appropriate positioning in the organization is very important. Bring people onto the team who can assist in defining requirements, setting objectives, and communicating a message that can be delivered to business units and users.
When creating the underpinning for a successful project, remember that adoption is just as important as the alignment itself. SharePoint must be recognized as a credible, usable and relevant source of content across the organization. But moreover, it is critical that it is seen as a business-critical system that will be deeply rooted in the minds and processes of the user community and, again, is seen as the place where business gets done.
In my experience consulting with clients in all types of vertical markets, I have seen time and time again that the trouble with SharePoint implementations is not meeting the expectations of business users, with implementations showing disappointing results due to SharePoint being implemented as a non-enterprise application. When working through these initial strategy-setting steps, work with all levels of the business to align yourself to a journey that makes sense for your company. Introduce steps and stages that work to commit resources and requirements, and ensure that expectations are set accordingly.
Eric is the Executive Vice President of Concatenate, creators of the RealTime suite of products based in Toronto. A SharePoint MVP, you can reach Eric by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @rizinsights. Read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at www.ericriz.com and catch his sessions at SPTechCon San Francisco, April 22-25, 2014.