SharePointSquarePeg.jpgWhen I discuss SharePoint's value with various decision makers one thing always comes up: the value of using it as a single platform to fill multiple needs within an organization. Companies may have initially implemented SharePoint as a way to collaborate and share data, but then find they also have the tools needed for a corporate intranet or public website. An initial investment provides a path for multiple solutions. This, for many reasons, can be a very appealing approach.

A compelling business case for implementing SharePoint isn't hard when you look at these capabilities. But a good business case isn’t enough to make for a solid and powerful SharePoint implementation. To realize the value, it will be important for your organization to embrace the changes required for success. I'd like to highlight some of the potential areas of concern I've seen in my work on SharePoint implementations with various organizations and show some ways to get past roadblocks or find detours to help you get to your final destination.

Look at Things Differently

Most organizations have gotten things down to a science when it comes to deploying and implementing software. Typically there's an operations team that keeps the servers up and running; a team of developers building solutions; and a team that serves as a help desk for users. Some companies have groups that are dedicated to monitoring the network and others that look just at security.

All of these roles are wonderful to have within an organization and can provide great value. But what happens when a single platform touches every area of the organization? Who will own it and how will decisions get made?

Trying to get SharePoint to fit into any one bucket won’t work. Depending on how you use it and what solutions you want to use, it could fall into many different categories. This is why governance is very important to any SharePoint implementation. It isn’t simply about installing it, configuring and building solutions, but instead should be about an ongoing relationship between all areas of the organization, making decisions for the good of the business. There are multiple ways to do things when it comes to SharePoint and many paths can be considered the “right” path based on your goals. Because SharePoint spans across so many different components it is essential for teams to work together to find the best solutions.

The best way to ensure that you are making the right decisions is to consider the impact each choice will have on the business. By doing this, you tie each decision to a business goal or objective and not to the technology alone. I have seen a few organizations that appoint a single business owner of SharePoint who works with the different technical teams to set the direction for the organization. Each decision is going to have a set of pros/cons and tradeoffs to get to the ultimate goal, so having a centralized business owner of SharePoint can help keep the balance between organizational needs and technical solutions.

Understand the Strategic Value

Solutions can look clear and easy looking from outside the problem, but that isn’t always the case once you step inside. In many organizations aligning to a structure that best supports SharePoint is a journey and not a single change. Change is hard for any organization and is usually made only when there is value attached to the change. This can sometimes create a circle effect when working with SharePoint because you need to do things differently, but until you can show the value in the change it is often hard to get buy-in.