When deploying SharePoint within an organization, it is key to look at the needs and requirements of the user base. To simplify this process, I've identified three key internal communities.

When organizations implement SharePoint internally they must accomplish both in-scope business requirements as well as information technology (IT) goals and key benefits in order to launch and support SharePoint for the long term.

From the very beginning of a deployment, communities start to develop. Those related users within those communities have their own sets of goals, processes they wish to improve upon, and collaboration or increased knowledge sharing to perform in a governed and secure manner that SharePoint offers.

This is true for SharePoint implementations of any kind whether it be an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) initiative or a new intranet or increased “social” or “professional networking” related strategy the culture is striving to embrace.

This very granular path or rabbit trail could cause this type of discussion to quickly get “into the weeds” of a technical or business deep dive. To simplify there are three core types of communities that exist within any SharePoint 2013 or 2010 implementation.

There are, of course, many sub-communities and types of users that flow out of these main community types but the three that can be identified at the very top level are:

  1. The “Knowledge” community and related users whose goal is collaboration, knowledge sharing, social\professional networking, and retaining this “knowledge” for the long-term. A goal of this community is to prevent “knowledge” loss when staff members leave the organization and providing their best practices, lessons learned, and intellectual property “knowledge’ when new staff comes into the company.
  2. The “Power User”\“Super User” community who supports the “care and feeding” as well as support to ensure the “Knowledge” community continues to thrive. This group is made up of team members or users who work with both the “Knowledge” community as well as the business leaders who set these goals and the IT and “Operational” community who keeps the “lights on” and ensures security, performance, governance, compliance, and business continuity.
  3. The “Operational” community who supports both the “Knowledge” and “Power User”\“Super User” communities. This community is made of the technical staff with roles such as the SharePoint administrators, Site Collection owners, Site owners, infrastructure, networking, and security. The “Operational” community is also getting ever growing requests to support the “Knowledge” community who is knocking at the door regarding mobility, smartphones, tablets and the bigger BYOD questions.

Note: I completely agree with those who are reading this and naming off many different more granular communities or types of SharePoint Sites (Team Sites, My Sites, Community Sites, Records Center \ Management Sites, etc.) but you can draw a correlation between all of these types of communities or sites to the three main communities I identified above.

The Knowledge Community

One thing I have strived with my team members is to take the word “SharePoint” out of many conversations and focus on the business and functional goals at hand. Microsoft SharePoint is the technology you are using to accomplish these goals but think in terms of how the “technology” can meet the needs of the communities.

There is a bit of a new blurry line when talking about SharePoint Communities today with SharePoint 2013 having a new level or hierarchy of Community Sites (templates) which support specific communities but I think it's key to bring it back to thinking in terms of knowledge management and “Communities of Practice” (CoP) or “Networks of Excellence” (NoE) that initially created many of the best practices and strategies that drive “SharePoint Communities” today.

So taking a step back and using the “Networks of Excellence” or NoE concept in the knowledge management world, the following are roles, responsibilities, as well as best practices that should be taken into consideration.

Executive Community Sponsor

  • Approves and supports the business case and vision for knowledge sharing at the functional, business unit, operational and/or executive levels
  • Signs-off on the business case, vision and resources for knowledge sharing
  • Remains involved through executive briefings and communications to the organizational community sponsors