With SharePoint 2013 now well past the six-month mark of its release, I have been surprised to see that few of the typical “tips and tricks” articles have been written to address SharePoint from a business and strategy perspective. Yes, I absolutely agree that branding and mobile are big changes from 2010, but many of our clients are asking about what attention needs to be paid toward the strategic use of SharePoint and how its enhanced capabilities will address business challenges across the enterprise.
Simply stated, upgrading to 2013 for the sake of doing so will not provide the value that organizations today seek. What you need is a strategy and the associated components that will make your upgrade or rollout a success.
One of the big pushes in the 2013 product is toward social, and those who attended the SharePoint Conference last year heard all about the Yammer acquisition from Microsoft and Yammer staff alike. One of the issues that businesses face with social is that the term itself is associated with sites like Facebook and is thus determined to be a time-waster, particularly if your business is one that has implemented a social-networking policy internally.
To address this, start your strategy by understating that social is all about the experience, meaning what you put into social internally is what you get out of it. You will need to create a policy that stipulates how and when social should be used. For example, creating a Yammer site for projects will allow your staff to collaborate in ways that it hadn’t before, such as by commenting on documents and having broad distribution for a project team.
This can work well, but everyone on your team must use it in order to achieve those results. Social can be further expanded to areas such as MySites, where larger organizations can encourage employees to list interests or commonalities on their profile pages in order to create synergies among staff between departments or common causes. Remember that social isn’t just in one place in 2013, so expand your thoughts and strategies accordingly.
I also recommend creating a reward strategy in order to recognize the people internally who are using 2013 to greater degrees than others. New to 2013 is the Community Badges feature that can provide users with “badges” when particular levels are met. These rules are customizable and can be set within a community to recognize an individual who has completed certain tasks. These are great adoption tools for internal recognition; it also turns users into Subject Matter Experts for certain areas.
A question that I get quite often these days is whether SharePoint 2013 should be hosted or on-premise. There is no quick answer to this question (insert standard consultant answer here) and each scenario is different. There are many factors to consider, including modifications to third-party (or in-house) applications, data security, and governance.
A general rule of thumb is don’t reinvent the wheel. If you are upgrading from 2010 with all data and interface points internally, the recommendation is to remain on-premise. If you are implementing a new installation, my suggestion is to evaluate a hosted solution for 2013. This may be the best result in order to keep your infrastructure costs low while providing a fully supported solution.
Above all else, remember that SharePoint 2013’s goal is to transform the way people work, so be sure to address the core competencies of content management and enterprise collaboration in your social and upgrade strategies in order to provide the right information to the right people at the right time.
Eric Riz is the Executive Vice President of Concatenate, creator of the RealTime suite of products. You can reach Eric by e-mail at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @rizinsights. Read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at www.ericriz.com, and catch him at SPTechCon Boston August 11-14.