In my last article, I discussed the first two reasons why executive SharePoint ignorance is not bliss, here are the remaining three:

Note: If you haven't already, take a look at Reasons 1 and 2 on Why Executive SharePoint Ignorance is not Bliss.

3. Sooner or later, Organizational SharePoint Readiness has to be Assessed

Servers: check. Licenses: check. SharePoint admin: check. Looks like we’re ready to rock and roll with SharePoint, right? Wrong.

Apart from making sure the technology is in place, there are four key areas in an organization that need to be assessed for SharePoint readiness:

Prioritization of business needs that SharePoint can address

For example, general needs such as leveraging SharePoint to replace existing collaboration tools such as intranet and file shares are typically on top of the list. Additionally, specific needs such as Human Resources (HR) process or workflow automation; improved financial reporting; project management information system (PMIS), etc. must be identified.

Decision makers along with IT have to take a hard look, prioritize key business needs and LIMIT the scope of how much of SharePoint will be implemented.

Setting achievable and realistic priorities leads to better buy-in and adoption.

Is IT capable of planning, implementing, supporting and maintaining SharePoint?

A typical oversight when implementing SharePoint is making sure that the organization has REALISTIC IT capacity to support it. It is important to run an inventory of the SharePoint solutions (out of the box or custom developed) to be implemented and cross reference it with IT’s capability to:

  • Install, configure, maintain and support SharePoint. For example, are there resources experienced in Windows Server administration? SQL Server maintenance? Integration of Active Directory (AD) with User Profiles?
  • Define key processes around custom SharePoint application development life cycle, release management, support and disaster recovery.

Identifying IT’s capability is a good exercise to go through in order to set realistic expectations of how much of SharePoint can be implemented. Also, this can serve as a good justification to acquire more resources in order to support the necessary SharePoint implementation.

Keep in mind that overtaxing IT resources to the point where breakage occurs can reduce confidence in SharePoint.

Develop a change management strategy

Whoever said “If you build it, they will come” forgot to specify the word “they” mostly pertains to frustrated SharePoint users if proper change management didn’t take place. I’ve seen a lot of organizations where users, who are supposedly the beneficiaries of SharePoint, couldn’t care less and even worse, they are frustrated.

Crafting a change management strategy involves governance definition, adoption planning, training planning and most importantly, understanding what the collaboration culture of the organization is and what gaps needs to be filled.

You can have the best SharePoint implementation out there but if the culture is authoritative and hierarchical, people might not be motivated to collaborate at all due to fear of potential repercussions.

What I’ve found effective in getting users to adopt and take advantage of SharePoint is that it should be seen as an enabler versus another tool mandated by IT. If it solves their pain point which can vary (HR vs Finance vs Operations), then they’ll see the value of leveraging SharePoint.

What does your SharePoint roadmap look like?

Hopefully by now you’ve realized that SharePoint is more like an enterprise operating system. Having a prioritized list of business needs can help define your organization’s SharePoint roadmap. Here is an example:

  • Phase 1: Proof of concept or Pilot
  • Phase 2: Replace intranet and file shares to improve collaboration
  • Phase 3: Deploy value point solutions for HR, Operations and Finance
  • Phase 4: Train users to build their own SharePoint solutions
  • Phase 5: Integrate CRM and third party reporting platform

A SharePoint roadmap can help organizations quantify the budget, resources and effectiveness of SharePoint. It allows priorities to be set and specifies what solutions are going to be deployed. See how EasyJet benefited from iteratively deploying SharePoint solutions:

To gain a better understanding of what steps to take when assessing an organization's SharePoint readiness, download and review an example SharePoint Assessment project schedule.

4. There can never be a SharePoint superman


SharePoint Supermen Don't Exist

"You're the Windows Administrator? OK, starting tomorrow, you're also the SharePoint Administrator! Your job is to roll it out to the whole company by next week." What makes it even more challenging is that deploying SharePoint is on top of all the other responsibilities that you may have.

The impression that successfully rolling out SharePoint only entails installing SharePoint on a Windows Server and sending a mass e-mail telling the organization that they can start using it is pure fallacy. In fact, this is a perfect formula for disaster.

To be successful in SharePoint, there's more to just installing the software. Proper planning, engaging the business to properly identify requirements, designing and architecting the relevant SharePoint solution, defining governance strategies, creating an adoption plan, installing, configuring, customizing and maintaining SharePoint, and managing the entire SharePoint implementation are necessary to be successful.

Apart from making sure that relevant IT resources are in place (as stated in point B of reason 3), qualified business and management resources should be involved as well. Now, can a single person do this? Not even Superman can.

5. Who is accountable for the success or failure of SharePoint?

Obviously, the answer is IT. However, unlike any other piece of Microsoft product in an organization, SharePoint can have a profound business impact as it can engage every person and various systems in the enterprise.

IT cannot be solely be responsible for SharePoint. There should be a steering or governance committee-like entity that is headed by an executive level individual and represented by key business decision makers and IT.

This group should be responsible for defining the roadmap and regularly validating how SharePoint is meeting business needs. Without this, he-said-she-said and finger-pointing games will be common should issues arise. Read this article “Best Practices for Forming a Governance Committee” to see what it takes.

A wise man once said, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. For decision makers who intend to reap the benefits of SharePoint, they should be responsible for investing time in understanding the business value SharePoint brings, and engaging with the business and IT to properly implement SharePoint.

Take a look at Reasons 1 and 2 on Why Executive SharePoint Ignorance is not Bliss.