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Test Before Making a Full Scale SharePoint Leap

2014-08-July-Swimming-Hole.jpgYou've built your solution architecture. You've got a vision in mind. You eagerly take the full scale implementation plunge. But the energy erodes after things start to fall apart during the implementation phases. Ad-hoc requirements pop up and all you get is boatload of custom code requirements or a bad rap from disgruntled users — now you're really in trouble.

Don't let this happen to your SharePoint implementation.

A pilot SharePoint implementation on a focus group can help address these issues. 

Start by identifying a specific group of end users who share a common function in the enterprise, such as departments or volunteers for several internal projects. A good example would be a CXM project for a service sector which requires participation from diverse departments, delivery teams, heads, cross-functional executives, etc. to come together to achieve a common business objective. These groups are already in place and ready to act as a testing ground for your pilot implementation. Since the group has champions from different departments, they can act as advocates during the full-scale implementation.

Some of the benefits of focus groups include:

Diverse Participants from Various Teams

Involvement of participants from diverse departments gives you a potential group of allies. These participants have to manage their regular jobs as well as taking part in the pilot initiative, requiring prudent management of time. If you can establish how SharePoint can help them be efficient in both tasks it will help you get subsequent buy-ins. This is also a chance to identify power users who can assist other users down the line.

Better Pronounced Needs

The business objectives of most of the internal projects are straightforward and clear. Hence, the solution can be built around these clearly pronounced needs rather than building them around SharePoint features. Keep in mind that using SharePoint out of box features as much as possible to meet end users' needs and expectations will free you from the requirements of custom coding.

Shared Business Objectives

Since all the participants have shared business objectives, the task of quickly implementing a model to hit the ground running, and fast-track a project is a golden opportunity to highlight SharePoint's benefits. You will get a lot of advocates and buy-ins from heterogeneous participants.

Better Iterative Models for Your Case

Taking an iterative and collaborative approach to maintain flexibility and support for the project will go a long way to prepare for a full-scale implementation. A typical iterative approach includes Requirement gathering -> SharePoint Training -> Data classification -> Prototype development. The findings from this cycle can be documented. As the findings will be unique to your case, it can be replicated across organization.

Hands-on Training and Input for Training Manual

Multiple people can work together to initiate and complete a sample workflow feature for a desired task. This would provide participants hands-on experience rather than learning from a demo which can be very confusing. Their experiences can be documented and could provide input for training and support manuals.

Involve the IT team from the beginning. They need to understand regressive requirements, adoption phases as well as handle back end diligence like security, policies and administration complexities.

Title image by Nick Sherman (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

About the Author

Himanshu Sharma handles marketing communications at Trigent. He is a Google certified professional. His specific interest areas are collaboration tools, CRM, web analytics and search engine optimization, digital marketing. He helps clients with content management and collaboration solutions based on SharePoint technology, and is currently involved in implementing social strategies to leverage knowledge workers in his organization.

 
 
 
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