SharePoint 2010 is a popular tool for creating Intranets, customer portals and almost any web-based solution. It’s a powerful product that can address an impressive number of business solutions. With all of the power SharePoint has to offer, and the money you’ll likely spend on deployment, it’s important to get certain things right. In this article, I’ll cover the top seven things that executives must consider when deploying SharePoint 2010. So if you’re thinking about SharePoint, or are revisiting a stalled deployment to give it a kickstart, read on.

Consideration #1: Go All-In or Don’t Bother

A large number of customers implement SharePoint by dropping it into a team environment with little to no configuration or end-user guidance and wish the users best of luck. Those customers use it mostly for file sharing. The problem is that by using SharePoint in this way, it often ends up as a slower, more expensive version of your company file server. If you’re going to invest the time and effort to deploy SharePoint, along with the cost of servers and storage, then you owe it to yourself and your organization to invest in governance, a good information architecture and training. One more thing: Don’t just deploy team sites. If you’re going to invest, deploy all six workloads (sites, content management, search, BI, social, composite applications). Customers who use SharePoint to its potential are much happier customers.

Consideration #2: Invest in Governance

Governance is a hot topic but largely misunderstood. The best way to think about it is via an analogy. Let’s say you’re in charge of constructing a highway system so that the public can get from point A to point B. You invest heavily in roads and cars; the highways are sturdy and can handle lots of traffic. Then you hand the keys over to the drivers. The problem? Nobody knows which side of the road to drive on or what to do at intersections. Car crashes will be the norm and the highway system will fail.

Sound silly? It’s not. This is exactly how many organizations deploy SharePoint. They invest in servers and software licenses, but neglect to invest in the “rules of the road”: SharePoint governance. Users want (and need) to be told how to best use the system: Tagging documents, designing new sites and, in general, what they are allowed to do. Notice that we’re not telling them where to drive. That’s the balance between empowerment and control: Provide guidelines, recommendations and some rules -- but let the business run the show from there.

Consideration #3: It’s About the Content

SharePoint itself isn’t going to do anything for you without good content. In fact, it’s all about the content. If you’re deploying an Intranet, make sure you designate content owners,defining the individual users who will be responsible for updating and managing various pages and sections of the site. These people may not be the generators of this content, but will be responsible for ensuring it gets updated and follows governance policies on the respective frequency. Here’s an example:

Content Site or PageContent ManagerUpdate/Review Frequency
Intranet Home Page (web parts, lists)
Doug S.Daily
News Home PagePhil T.Weekly
--Press ReleasesScott G.When new releases are generated
--AnnouncementsScott G.When new announcements are made
--Industry News(none)Self-authored through RSS feeds
Community Home Page
Mary P.Weekly
--EventsDave F.When events are added/removed as needed
--MediaSusanne V.When company event or other event takes place with media documentation
--Executive BlogHomer S.Weekly, one per executive member
Teams(none)Search and creation functionality -- no content
--Team SitesMark B.Semi-annually
Search (specifically keywords, acronyms and best bets)John S.Semi-annually reviewed, and as new keywords, acronyms are added
AudiencesMark B.As user roles change or new users are created/old users removed

Consideration #4: Invest in Search

The Internet is changing the way users expect to find information. Users expect to be able to go to a search box and enter a keyword or two and be taken to the information they need. As such, they have high expectations for Enterprise Search capabilities. SharePoint has a great platform for search, including features such as click-through relevancy and metadata-driven refinement, but you’ll still need to invest in the mechanics of ensuring that common search queries in your organization map to the sites and content that users want. Make sure you survey users to get their opinion on what they expect to see when they enter a search keyword -- don’t just assume that whatever gets served up in search results is “correct." Search relevancy optimization is an ongoing process.

Today, many intranet users are frustrated by their enterprise search experience. The number one complaint we hear from organizations investing in new intranets is that “search doesn’t work.” The fact is, it’s not that search doesn’t work, but it’s that the information architecture doesn’t include any metadata to help search work optimally, or that you haven’t added keywords or best bets. Make sure you get the little things right, such as requiring keywords and having users update the Title field (important). This all goes back to good governance, which helps users help themselves.

Consideration #5: Give Everyone a Profile Page

When designing a solution for business collaboration and social computing, it is important to think about a “social identity” that represents each user in the organization. This identity, which lives in SharePoint 2010, is typically an aggregate of data from directory sources such as Active Directory and other business systems.

Providing a social identity enables the users of your solution to:

  • Gather insight into other users based on their social network, such as informing them about what the people they know are doing
  • Provide social feedback in the form of ratings, comments and tags
  • Find an “expert”-- a mechanism that provides a way for users to locate a person within the organization based on profile attributes
  • Provide an accurate organization chart so that users know the reporting structure
  • Display items such as human resources news, based on the user’s organization and business role within the company
  • Show a picture of your users in Outlook via the social connector

If you plan to use social computing features, such as My Site Web sites or People Search in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, you should plan for and integrate profile information into SharePoint. It will make every SharePoint experience that much more personal and help users collaborate and share more.

Learning Opportunities

Consideration #6: Plan for End-User Adoption

Even with a great governance plan and relevant content, you can’t just “turn on” the new portal or collaboration environment and expect users to show up at the door in droves. Your adoption plan (yes, you need one) needs to capture the hearts and minds of the user community to ensure that the solution will be successful.

SharePoint usage is cultural; it affects the way someone works -- which is a personal thing. You’ll want to make sure that users have a clear path regarding the use of SharePoint even for the simplest of tasks (“How should I share this document?”).Your task at hand? Invest in an adoption plan, which should include awareness, support and training.

Consideration #7: Give SharePoint Ongoing Love

The final consideration for SharePoint deployments is the ongoing care and feeding you must give to it. This means IT operational upkeep, but more important, it means a plan for content updates, search report reviews and other items. The following is an example plan:

SharePoint Example Plan.png

This article was based on hundreds of successful SharePoint implementations. I’ve boiled the key learnings down to seven basic rules. To get the most out of yourSharePoint 2010 deployment, follow them. You’ll be glad you did.

To learn more on this topic and more, attend the SharePoint Saturday conference in Washington August 11-13th. Scott is presenting the topic:

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