Making the most of SharePoint - 8 lessons from NetIKX

The latest meeting of NetIKX, focusing on making the most of SharePoint, was a full-house.   Delegates were keen to learn from others who have experienced (and even been responsible for) SharePoint roll-out and survived.  The session proved that as a tool, SharePoint is flexible enough to ‘take on the personality' of the organisation.Mark Field set the agenda for the afternoon, outlining the ways in which the UK's Department for Education is using SharePoint to help deliver real behavioural change.  Additional case studies were provided by the British Red Cross and Jones Lang LeSalle.Although being showcased in three very different corporate settings, some key lessons and themes reflect how to deliver a successful SharePoint project.

  • Recognise the value of IM as well as IT skills in taking implementation forward.  Sound information architectures and information standards as well as customer skills are essential
    • Over engineered approaches are high risk  
  •  Do not use SharePoint/Microsoft terminology if that will be a barrier in your organisation
    • For one organisation, the tool simply provided ‘workplaces' for its users
  • Obtain high level ‘business' support (that's a given) but also identify pilot groups/individuals who will challenge you
    • The naysayers will test and push you but will become valuable advocates if you deliver what they need
  • Get ‘intimately' close with your internal clients to understand their work processes/pain points.  Focus on the ways real people really work
    • Focus on constant improvement and iterations not on one ‘big delivery/rollout' of a standard implementation.  Really understand internal work processes
  • One size does not fit all but recognise the dangers of letting a thousand flowers bloom   
    • Provide the necessary support and training to ensure success
  • Be pragmatic, not dictatorial
    • Not all documents will require rich metadata
  • Be open to learning from other organisations/rollouts but recognise that you will have to adapt for your own circumstances
    •  For one organisation, extensive customisation is required to ensure access in low bandwidth situations
  • User pull is vital
    • Under deliver on functionality and then respond to user demands for more ‘stuff'
All of the case study organisations had identified the contribution that collaborative software, interfaces with a good look and feel and well structured document libraries make to team and organisational effectiveness - and to improved compliance with records management policies.