There have been many articles authored and much discussion afforded to the conversation around collaboration with SharePoint. In fact, collaboration was by far the topic I was questioned on the most during SPTechCon earlier this month. These questions ranged from thoughts about implementation tactics and what we have recommended to specific, strategic questions about controlling or deploying SharePoint in the most collaborative method possible.

Collaboration is a straightforward concept; it means working together to achieve a goal. However, though individuals understand what collaboration is all about, they risk failure in execution when teamed with others. Why? Because of the mass of external factors that overshadow a simple deployment, making the straightforward otherwise complex.

While SharePoint is at its core a technology designed to make collaboration easier and more effective for teams, issues must be addressed throughout the project in order to promote a harmonious environment. This article provides four key points you can adopt to help your organization succeed, collaboratively.

Define your collaborative strategy…and tell everyone. Empowering staff and coworkers to use the technology available to them is just the start. Spend the time and effort required to define a strategy that will work for your business.

Deploying Communities is a great recommendation for large organizations, allowing for the use of My Sites, wikis, blogs and content tagging. But simply turning the functionality on does not create a collaborative environment. Challenge your users to create a blog about the latest happenings in your organization, or create a competition for the best-deigned My Site. Empowering users at this level will allow them to work together, creating a team environment and camaraderie around the office.

Share information. We have all experienced the frustration of not knowing the schedule of a critical resource for a meeting, or booking a meeting based on someone’s calendar only to find out they don’t keep it current. Sharing information is the simplest form of collaboration, yet we often overlook this step when defining needs.

SharePoint 2010 has an integrated calendaring Web part, which can be used even in a live or pilot environment. Make sure that staff keep their calendars current, and be sure to enable the team calendar.

Use document libraries. Though document sharing doesn’t sound like something collaborative, employees can use the versioning features to effectively work with their teammates. When versioning is enabled, documents can be stored historically or restored to a previous point easily.

Create the right environment. Managing in a collaborative environment means you must embrace SharePoint’s technical benefits in order to lead by example. Do your best to blog about your business unit and about how new corporate changes will benefit everyone, or boast about your successes by sharing dashboards or status reports on you’re my Site. The more people see you embracing the benefits of collaboration, the more they’ll use it themselves.

Eric Riz is the Founder and CEO of eMark Consulting, Ltd., a SharePoint strategy and systems integration firm based in Toronto. He has worked with many Fortune 500 companies on their business productivity architecture and deployment plans to ensure they maximize the benefits of Microsoft technologies and successfully deploy their SharePoint-based solutions. Eric is a frequent contributor to the SPTech Report. You can reach him by e-mail at