Governance Key for SharePoint Implementations We still talk about SharePoint like it was just released yesterday. Its popularity and growth is phenomenal. Which leads many to question how well the platform is governed from both a business and IT perspective. Governance is the key for a successful SharePoint implementation today and we have an interview with a consulting firm specializing in SharePoint to tell us why. We were recently passed an interview between Errin O'Connor, Founder & CEO from EPC Group, a firm that specializes in SharePoint development, and Bill Brikiatis, Director of Corporate Marketing at eCopy. It's an interesting discussion on why SharePoint has been so successful, so quickly, and what the challenges are for implementing and governing the platform. There are a couple of key take aways from this interview that align with what many analysts and SharePoint Implementers are saying: * Implementations must be carefully planned -- doing it wrong the first time will lead to a lot more money spent later on to fix the problem -- where are your cost savings then? * Governance is critical from an IT perspective in terms of its support, maintenance, updates and SharePoint's use as an application development platform * Governance is also critical from a business perspective: provisioning sites and content, guidelines and communication strategies and overall management * Have a roadmap and a communications plan - don't try to do it all at once and make sure everyone knows the plan Here's the entire interview for your reading pleasure: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server is one of the fastest growing products in the company’s history. Why is it being so successful in the market? Errin O’Connor: "SharePoint is extremely successful in today’s enterprise content management (ECM) market because its cost, usability, and powerful out-of-the-box functionality are at the top of the list. For example, an organization can implement a more traditional ECM application and it may cost $3-to-4 million or it can choose a powerful SharePoint solution for approximately $700,000 to $1 million. Other document management systems are extremely difficult to customize compared to SharePoint’s flexible web-based interface. SharePoint also has a powerful workflow platform that allows you to automate your organization’s business processes all within a single SharePoint environment. SharePoint has the flexibility to be your organization’s intranet, content management system, knowledge management system, and business process automation platform. No other system can wear so many hats and give its users so many available features and functionality." With SharePoint implementations growing so quickly, what challenges do they present to IT? O’Connor: "Governance of the environment and provisioning of sites and content can be major challenges to an organization. It is extremely important to implement SharePoint right the first time because if you do not, you may spend twice as much to correct your mistakes after the fact.” What steps should an organization take do avoid implementation issues? O’Connor: “Organizations should look for an implementation firm with a proven governance model and automated site provisioning solutions to ensure they implement SharePoint right the first time. And with its implementation partner, take the following approach: * Develop a SharePoint Governance Guide for your organization. * Develop best practices, top-level navigation. * Implement a Site Provisioning Process for all Sites and Subsites. * Implement Custom Development Standards. * Create a SharePoint training plan for your organization. * Implement a SharePoint communication strategy. * Create a SharePoint Roadmap for your organization.” From a workflow perspective, does SharePoint provide all the tools needed to streamline processes? O’Connor: “Absolutely. SharePoint’s workflow is built on the Windows Workflow Foundation platform which allows developers to develop extremely complex custom workflows. Organizations can develop workflows in either SharePoint Designer 2007 or Visual Studio depending on the workflows complexity and functional requirements.” What’s the best approach for adding paper-based content to SharePoint workflows? O’Connor: “Even with SharePoint-driven electronic processes, many times there is still paper involved in the workflow. Users need to look for document imaging software that is easy to use and administer, otherwise training costs and time expended on IT management will outweigh any potential workflow efficiencies. For example, the eCopy Connector for SharePoint utilizes the multifunction printers and document scanners that have already populated the enterprise and are connected into your Microsoft environment.” What should an IT manager look for in document imaging software in SharePoint environments? O’Connor: “From an IT management perspective, a document imaging application needs to have out of the box capabilities to avoid customization issues and leverage your SharePoint investment. You should not have to modify Microsoft SharePoint to add document scanning. And the document imaging software should have zero footprint on the SharePoint Server. “Other IT requirements to consider include: * Does the software authenticate against SharePoint to ensure document security and provide an electronic audit trail? * Can the software support highly customized SharePoint environments? * Are SharePoint Server modifications automatically reflected at each capture device in real time?” Can you please tell us about your company and what services it provides for SharePoint customers? O’Connor: “EPC Group.net is one of the nation’s leading SharePoint implementation and custom .NET application development firms. We specialize in the Microsoft enterprise platform and some of our consultants have earned Microsoft's prestigious MVP award. We provide integration and consulting services to companies throughout the U.S. and Canada.”