SharePoint assessments are a way to set objectives, make creative business-level suggestions, and baseline the project. The goal is to analyze your corporate needs and assess your ability to deploy SharePoint effectively, while improving your business operations and hopefully leveraging your existing legacy systems—and by systems, I mean data—before beginning the implementation.
Companies then follow the outline through project completion, at which time the project team will walk through a “Lessons Learned” session, noting what was implemented and the differences between the assessment and the end result. All this is well and good in principle if you want to measure your success once the project is over, but how many of you do mid-project assessments on your SharePoint implementations?
Performing mid-project assessments for our clients has garnered success in many areas, including the project and delivery levels. This article will make some high-level suggestions as to what to include in your mid-project assessment. Note that this article is written from the perspective of a consultant, and identifies the project roles and people you’ll want to meet with. If one of the roles is currently yours, perform the assessment from that level and remove the consultant from the equation (unless I’m the consultant!).
You can’t manage what you don’t measure: Those that have read my other articles know that I love the phrase, “If it’s not measured, it’s not done.” Because the assessment is a measurement of your organization, the phrase is particularly useful in this conversation. Though a mid-project assessment is best completed in an environment where an initial assessment has been done, they can be mutually exclusive.
Where to start: Begin a mid-project assessment by examining the initial project objectives and expectations, and compare them to where the project currently is. Review the project plan and meet with the project stakeholders to gain their input. If there is no project plan and no real way of knowing where the middle of your project is, look for an obvious start or end point, usually best represented by a particular phase completion, number of users on the system, dollar amount spent, or components deployed. Next, meet with the project manager and key team members to review and discuss their thoughts. Ask what has gone well and what has not, which deployed SharePoint components have made the best impact, and what are the expectations for future functional releases.
Engage your project team: A mid-project assessment is a great way to ensure your project is on the right path to successful completion; however, it can be seen as a performance review by the project team and yield negative results if handled improperly. Communicating the goals of the assessment and praising the team for work completed on the project will set the right tone. Be sure to leverage the input and feedback of the team in order to manage their expectations and those of the project. You may learn of issues or risks, which can be documented to aide in a successfully completed project.
Manage your deliverables: Your SharePoint project was created with specific deliverables in mind to improve efficiency and share value throughout the business. Ensure that appropriate time is given to managing the deliverables themselves. Check to see that each deliverable is on its path to completion from a design, development, test and QC/QA level. Confirm that initial requirements were signed off on and have an architect review the plans for common components. A component review may reveal that already-built functionality can be leveraged, resulting in time and money saved.
Restate the project’s vision and values: Hopefully your project was created with a clearly stated vision and value set. Now is the time to review those statements and reaffirm that the project is aligned. Call a team meeting to get everyone re-engaged and committed to the end state of the project. Highlight your successes and the great things that have been completed thus far. Make sure to recognize any special effort or individuals who have made a specific contribution to your team. Remember, everyone appreciates recognition!
Write about it: As you wrap up your assessment, document your findings and prepare a current-state status report for the project. This is the critical output of your assessment and the important input to your post-project review. Make sure you save this to your SharePoint document management portal and send the link to the entire project team!
Eric is the EVP of Systems Integration for Concatenate, a software firm focused on maximizing SharePoint through product innovation and systems integration based in Toronto. You can reach Eric by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at www.ericriz.com.