The best advice I can give anyone for success with SharePoint over the long term is to embrace it and enjoy the journey. Journey? That’s right, just like business itself, SharePoint isn’t something you every really finish, but is always a work in progress. Sometimes a journey can be a drag, it’s true (uncomfortable beds/bedfellows, dubious food, forever packing up and moving on to the next location and usually just when you feel most settled, communication issues, etc.). But being open to exploration and discovery can bring substantial rewards.
I suppose this post is a variation on Love The One You’re With (see tip #3), but in finishing this lengthy series I really do want to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and not end on Mister In-Between.
Get into the groove
With a product like SharePoint there’s always a great deal to learn, but don’t be intimidated, plunge in and before you know it you’ll be a SharePoint Master. There are plenty of online training and user adoption resources I’ve referenced in other posts in this series, both formal and informal. Plus, everyone needs a bit of serendipity in their lives, so to really get into the SharePoint groove why not…
- Connect with the SharePoint community – I don’t mean partners and consultants, though we all have lots of expertise and most of us have a willingness to share. Connect with your peers. There are lots of them out there. If you can’t find a local group, perhaps you should start your own? Listen to what’s working for your peers in other organisations, and why, and assess how these successes might translate to your own environment. (Similarly, keep an ear open to failures and try to avoid the same.)
- Attend a conference – In my part of the world I’ve been fortunate to be involved in the Eventful Management ‘Share’ conference, and can highly recommend this for business people and non-technical managers with responsibility for SharePoint.
- Follow a few gurus, and subscribe to discussion groups
Lurk or participate, either way you’ll absorb knowledge and ideas without even trying. For example, I’ve captured my favourite bloggers in this post, and some active groups on LinkedIn are:
SharePoint Experts on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=42512
SharePoint 2007 & 2010 on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/SharePoint-2007-2010-43166
SharePoint Users Group on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=58750
SharePoint Intranets (Sub-group of the Worldwide Intranet Challenge) on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=3293870
- Connect with other like-minded communities
You don’t need to focus exclusively on SharePoint to succeed. I believe you can learn a lot from other applications and communities that will inform and enrich your thinking about SharePoint. Join a general community on Web Content Management, User Experience Design, Social Business, or Intranet Design, or whatever suits your role or tickles your fancy, and expand your horizons. Great ideas can usually be transposed to any platform.
Serendipity can be great fun, and might even be the mother of innovation, but it’s a risky way to approach an entire journey. So I advocate some considered planning for the future. Once you’ve got a decent handle on SharePoint’s capabilities, and you understand how to translate those into business value, you’ll know what your destination options are. Evaluate where to take SharePoint in your organisation and plan out the hops or stages to ensure you get there. For example, assess how best – and how far – to progress your SharePoint deployment up the value chain. Sadalit van Buren’s SharePoint Maturity Model is a good way to approach this: http://sharepointmaturity.com/
|LS|Aside: I love a Maturity Model – use them all the time in my strategy work – but worth noting that moving up the maturity ladder shouldn’t be approached as a Given or a Good Thing in all circumstances. Progression through each maturity level usually requires significant investment of time and resources, and you should always assess that effort against benefit. Yes, the old ROI catch. So achievement of the state of nirvana promised by Level 5, or ‘fully optimized,’ or however your Maturity Model of choice describes its peak, shouldn’t necessarily be targeted uncritically as the ultimate goal of any growth strategy, including SharePoint enhancement. Hovering at stage 3, say, might be a perfectly acceptable goal for a given organisation. Just my 2 cents’ worth.|RS|
But I digress… Use a Maturity Model as a reference point for drawing up a roadmap for SharePoint that’s aligned with your business’s strategy and plans. Since no-one has a crystal ball, be sure to revise and refine this roadmap over time, as business circumstances and plans change and new requirements emerge. Alan Weintraub has a post on creating a SharePoint roadmap here http://www.aiim.org/community/blogs/expert/Creating-a-Roadmap-to-SharePoint-Success And there are myriad options for collating and publishing the information as a one page map, so hunt around for inspiration and choose the approach and presentation mode that best suits your organisation.
If and when requirements demand it, and the business is ready, maybe you’ll want to extend and enhance your SharePoint platform. Perhaps you’ll investigate the Business Connectivity Services (BCS) as a means of integrating external data from back-end business systems with SharePoint. Or the Business Intelligence features of SharePoint 2010 (Enterprise edition). A colleague who’s implementing FAST search for SharePoint for a client has reported extremely impressive results; I confess I’m a bit gob smacked at just how impressive, as I think the Standard edition out-of-the-box search is pretty good in its own right.
You might also want to evaluate offerings from the SharePoint partner ecosystem to extend your environment beyond out-of-the-box options. Approach with caution (see my churlish post against excessive customisation / add-ons) but if needs must, then SharePoint Reviews is a useful albeit not totally comprehensive directory: http://www.sharepointreviews.com/.
- The SharePoint journey is there to be enjoyed, and there’s plenty of support available to help you do so
- Top Ten Tips … phew, we got there in the end …. Best wishes for success with your own SharePoint adventure