Tag Archives: sharepoint 2010

Getting the full value out of SharePoint

I recently posted on how you create a strategy that helps you to implement SharePoint successfully.  I then posted on how you to develop the right level of governance to manage SharePoint well.  But how do you gain the full benefits that SharePoint offers?  And how should you be measure it?

There are three areas you should prioritise:

  1. Productivity improvements: time saved solving problems using SharePoint instead of meeting in person to do this.  There are the costs of travelling avoided too.
  2. Savings in hardware, support costs and licences from moving content and tools on existing technology to SharePoint.
  3. Business intelligence can lead to opportunities to increase revenue through quicker responses to sales leads and customer service problems.

You may have other areas.  The key is to understand what business benefits you could gain from using SharePoint.

My first-hand experience at BT and from working with clients is that you benefit from using SharePoint.  It is your approach which is critical!

You can out more information on how to measure the full value of SharePoint to help you

 

Is your governance good enough for SharePoint?

I have written many blog posts on SharePoint based on my first-hand experience from developing strategies through to the full implementation of features such as TeamSites, MyProfile, etc.

One of the most common requests I get from clients is “How is the best way to manage their intranet while using SharePoint?”  This question is asked because SharePoint is a ‘big beast’ and needs a more rigorous and broad governance framework that is good enough for the challenge.

Your approach needs to consider:

  • Restricting use: stopping some features from being used e.g. SharePoint Designer
  • Encouraging best practice: making sure guidance and training are available
  • Preventing problems: checking content before it is published

Each of these approaches can support your governance strategy for
SharePoint.  The key is to understand what you need to use SharePoint for most of all.

My first-hand experience at BT and from working with clients is that well planned and managed governance is good enough to gain the benefits from using SharePoint.  It is how you approach this which is the critical success factor!

You can out more information on how to build good SharePoint governance to help you.

How to develop a strategy for SharePoint

Recently I posted on how to develop an intranet strategy and how to develop a digital workplace strategy.  I now want to cover SharePoint because it is used by so many organisations.  I have covered in earlier post if SharePoint is good or bad and what organisations need to do to help decide if it is.

This post focuses on a strategy for using SharePoint.  Note it is NOT a SharePoint strategy!  This is a mistake organisations have made and it can have serious consequences.  A strategy for SharePoint needs to consider far more than just implementing technology:

  1. Be afraid, very afraid, of implementing SharePoint without a clear set of business requirements.  Make sure SharePoint is the best match for these requirements.
  2. Have clear priorities for what SharePoint needs to help with first.  Without these how will you know what can requirements can be met first or have the biggest impact on your organisation?
  3. Make sure you have a robust governance framework in place before you start using SharePoint.  You will need it!  I find it is the most common reason for causing problems.
  4. Make sure you also have a clear structure, an information architecture, that is logical and predictable for people using SharePoint to find what they need.
  5. Consider the culture and wider behaviour that exists across your organisation before you start using SharePoint.  They need to fit so the features can be used to their full benefit.

There are some key principles which you can apply to help you create a strategy for SharePoint to be good for your organisation.  Find out more information about how to develop a strategy for SharePoint.

SharePoint: what does good look like?

A little while ago I asked ‘Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad?‘.  I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Building on this theme I will be presented the keynote address at IntraTeam’s event in Gothenburg on 4 December ‘SharePoint: What does good look like for?’.

I will cover how your approach is critical to achieving a good SharePoint experience – for you as well as for people using it – with the need for a strategy that sets the right direction and a governance framework to help you keep moving in that direction every day.

I will also be showing examples of what I believe good looks like with SharePoint.  I can’t share all of these publicly with you I’m afraid – you will have to be at the event to see all the examples – but I can share some here.  I hope you find them useful along with my steps to a good SharePoint experience.

If you need any further information or help with SharePoint please get in touch.

Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

Many people have asked me if I think SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?  It’s a great question to ask but it is harder to give the right answer based on my experiences with SharePoint creating strategies, leading project teams, implementing  governance frameworks or just using the many features.

I have seen with each SharePoint version – 2003 to 2013 – how some new features help but other features can hinder how an organisation needs to use it….but one thing is clear, Microsoft don’t package up ‘good’ or ‘bad’ versions of SharePoint.

I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Here are five factors that can help you decide if SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’:

Strategy

It is important you have a strategy for your intranet or digital workplace that SharePoint can be shown will help to achieve. A strategy helps set the direction you are moving in.  It helps identify key priorities you need to achieve to help your organisation.  Timescales also help to manage expectations and show what is practical from what is aspirational.

You should not just have a SharePoint strategy.  That can lead to you delivering technology solutions that don’t meet the aims of your organisation or cover wider aspects of cultural change.  Your strategy must not be based on SharePoint: it should be wider and align with your organisation’s overall strategy and related areas e.g. IT, Comms, HR, etc. and measure the benefits.

Governance

You need to have a governance framework that underpins your strategy in the long and short term.  This means having clear roles and responsibilities, linking these together into a hierarchy with publishing standards, training and processes for new content editors.

Without a governance framework people could be unclear on the purpose of each SharePoint tool e.g. MySite, TeamSite, and how is the best and most appropriate way to use them.  Without a governance framework there can be chaos and a digital mess that can be very difficult to untangle and gain any benefit from for a long time.

Planning

Have a clear plan for why you need to use SharePoint, what you need to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and when you need to complete each phase by.  This helps you to see what is the best approach and prioritise the way you introduce SharePoint to people in your organisation.

If you are planning to replace many existing online tools e.g content and document management systems and/or collaborative tools it is critical that you consider the impact that actions taken in an earlier phase could have knock-on effects during a later phase (which maybe 1-2 years ahead) e.g. permissions, SharePoint Designer.

Without any plan the consequences for your organisation and people’s online experience could be disastrous.  SharePoint is a very powerful tool and needs to be managed carefully!

education

You need to have a strong communication and training approach to anyone who will be touched by SharePoint whether that is your CEO, content editor or casual user or contributor.

People publishing and using SharePoint information need to appreciate that it is not all the same in its value (something I will be writing about in the future) e.g. a policy is unlikely to change frequently and be inaccurate but an opinion expressed in a discussion group may be inaccurate, incomplete, change next day.

People need to understand the differences in the information they use and behave accordingly in their judgement and actions based on how much value they place on it.

SharePoint is more than a change of technology, it can change business policies, processes and how people behave when they have a problem or want to share some helpful information.

business need

I have heard how IT have approached the business saying “we have this free tool option on top of X product that we’ve bought which we’re going to use for Y purpose”.  It’s a natural reaction to test out something for free but many organisations have found it doesn’t work out the way it is planned.

Firstly, you need to make sure you have a business problem that SharePoint is a good (note I didn’t say the best) technology solution to solve.  Sometimes I have seen the introduction of SharePoint create problems that didn’t exist before.

Make sure you involve people who will be affected by any changes you plan to make as early as possible who can also test these to see if they do help as you expect SharePoint to and feedback any issues to be acted upon before it is launched.

Your organisation needs to be clear on what the problems and their root causes are before considering whether technology, and if so, which solution e.g. SharePoint can best help resolve the problem.

summary

I hope this can help you to appreciate there are factors that influence why people feel SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ apart from the technology itself.  It is more likely to be how you have approached and implemented SharePoint rather than the tools and features people can use that affects your view when you think about it more deeply.

Please leave a comment with your views and contact me if I can help in any way.

It’s March…so it must be IntraTeam 2013

Like when the crocuses and snowdrops are followed by daffodils flowering in spring, the IntraTeam conferences in Copenhagen is a key part of my intranet calendar in March.  This will be my third time at this conference but my first purely as a delegate and not as a speaker.  I’m really looking forward to absorbing the knowledge to be gained, networking with existing friends while making new ones, and feeling the pulse of where intranets and digital workplaces are going next!

So, what does IntraTeam 2013 have in store for us from 5 -7 March?  Well it has its own Twitter hashtag #iec13 so please follow that if you haven’t already.

To start with on 5 March there is a full day of workshops covering the digital workplace, mobile video, transforming intranets, and HR portal.  Quite a variety to choose from.

That sets us up nicely for the main course on 6 and 7 March with the main speaker sessions.  Starting with Jane McConnell and her Digital Workplace Trends 2013, we move on over the two days to cover corporate intranets, gamification, storytelling, social video, mobile intranet, search and much, much, more!

For dessert we have the legendary networking dinners where Kurt Kragh Sørensen, Owner, IntraTeam A/S @IntraTeam plays host to a great experience of fun, laughter, and great conversation on intranets.

It’s giving me quite an appetite before I have even arrived!

This conference will give you ideas on how to communicate, share knowledge and create value with your intranet, SharePoint solution and enterprise search.

It’s a great opportunity not to be missed.

Congres 2013, SharePoint and Digital Workplace – all together!

I am really looking forward to my first time at the Congres intranet conference, Congres 2013 (Twitter #intra13), on 18 and 19 March in Utrecht, Holland.  Many people have told me about the great time they have networking with other intranet people and learning from the workshops and presentations given by great speakers.

I am very pleased to be asked to run two workshops on SharePoint and the Digital Workplace on the first day and a breakout session on the second day.  For those of you who have not heard about this (where have you been ?!) this is the fifth annual Intranet conference designed for senior managers, communication people, information and IT professionals engaged in intranets, enterprise social media and corporate employee portals.

Speakers this year include Luis Suarez – The Evolving Knowledge Web Worker, Euan Semple, Eaun Semple – The Future Proof Intranet, business as usual?, Jonathan Phillips – The Coca-Cola Intranet: from research to delivery and Steven van Belleghem – Internal Communication is dead.

Congres 2013 (#intra13) offers you the opportunity to learn about current innovative intranet solutions, new developments and best practices. In addition to acquiring all that knowledge, the networking as a big factor at the conference.

And if you want to find out more about how to plan and implement strategies for the Digital Workplace and SharePoint and how to manage them, join my workshops and say “hello’ in person as well as on Twitter, etc.  I will be very pleased to welcome you!

My 2013 ‘fabulous five’ predictions

Several people have asked me what my predictions are for 2013 for intranets and digital workplaces.  I couldn’t resist the temptation to give my view from more of a practitioner’s perspective than maybe others have done.  So as that legend in his own lunchtime, Tony Blackburn on Pick of the Pops  (c’mon you’re not that young to not know him in the UK at least! :) ) says “Ok pop pickers, here is the fabulous five!”.

1. Not just a flexi fortnight

In 2012 we had the fantastic experience of the London Olympics and Paralympics.  Many blue chip and dyed in the wool organisations with office workers in London had a big shock and had to wrench their employment practices quickly into the 21st century by letting people work away from the office at home or other more local places.  People were trusted to work as normal for each of these games events.  Amazingly it all went smoothly with many organisations realising here was a quick way of helping to save costs with pressure on their business performance.

I predict many ‘flexi fortnight’ organisations will invest heavily in making the digital workplace permanent in 2013 and help change many people’s work/life balance for the better as well as improve overall business performance.  They will need help though!

2. SharePoint will be ‘good enough’

SharePoint 2010 and increasingly 2013 will continue to be the major technology deployed by large organisations transforming their intranets into digital workplaces.  Why?  Well, there are not many alternatives to choose from now or likely during 2013.  Organisations may not choose it for the right reasons ‘herding sheep’ is sometime the image that comes to my mind.  Where the real challenge will be is the perennial areas of strategy and governance.

I predict many organisations will need help unpicking poor decisions taken without the full knowledge of what SharePoint is capable of.  We know that it can be capable of many good things if in the right hands – then again the opposite happens too.

3. ‘Social media’ a threat to internal comms?

And the problem is partly the term ‘social media’ which is misleading in my humble opinion.  I always use terms which are more practical and relevant when talking with clients.  The same should apply for intranet/digital workplace practitioners when talking to their internal partners and customers.  So we’re helping people to find other people with similar interests to help solve a problem quicker, easier and maybe cheaper rather than ‘knowledge management’ and improving communications by people showing how much they value it by sharing, liking, rating, and commenting on it rather introducing ‘Facebook’ or ‘social media’.

I predict internal communications will ‘get it’ and see this as a big opportunity to gain better employee engagement.  Use the right terms and examples to get a better understanding of what it’s all about.

4. Security and compliance taken more seriously

We have seen several high-profile examples of organisations with previously strong reputations and brands suffer severe setbacks because of insecure processes and training and not complying with regulations and legal requirements.  It really is time that organisations looked at ALL the legal and regulation requirements as a joined up picture for what is needed in a digital workplace.  There has always been a risk that sensitive information can be mislaid since the written word many centuries ago so it’s not a new problem.

I predict organisations will ensure their digital workplace governance and processes are robust using software and education to make sure the right behaviour is encouraged to minimise risks of sensitive and commercial information being found by the ‘wrong’ people.

5. Intranet practitioners become INTRANET or DIGITAL WORKPLACE PRACTITIONERS

Yes, it’s my shorthand method of saying the profile for practitioners will grow in 2013.  I do believe as intranets transform into digital workplaces, organisations are realising the value they give them.  I also believe your profile will increase as you engage with more senior managers over wider areas that are relevant to a digital workplace than just to intranets.  I sincerely hope the value you provide in your role will be recognised and rewarded.

I predict 2013 is the year when many intranet practitioners will find by the end of it their career on a much stronger path with many people showing more interested in wanting to be part of this journey and more willing to help you.

Whatever happens in 2013 I hope you achieve your ambitions!

Maybe this is the best way to rebuild SharePoint 2010 content?

In my last post I talked about the second of three approaches to rebuilding your content from your existing publishing tool in to SharePoint 2010.

For each approach it is the conflict between minimising the impact on performance of the business with the extra cost of contractors while retaining the knowledge and experience of using SharePoint 2010.  There isn’t just one answer and it can be a difficult choice to get right.

Using contractors to rebuild

My last approach covers your organisation hiring external contractors with SharePoint 2010 knowledge and expertise to rebuild your content.  Contractors should be able to rebuild all types of content, whether simple or complex, without need for training.

It minimises the involvement of your content editors with rebuilding of content to focus on their business activities.  It gives you flexibility on when you train your content editors to be able to update and create content, either during or after the rebuild has been completed.

You can also start your rebuild at short notice providing your contractors are available.

Benefits

Your organisation can save the costs and effort of training content editors before the rebuild until much later.  The impact on operational performance is minimised.

All your content is rebuilt by contractors skilled in SharePoint 2010.  You may use some of the contractors on a permanent basis to re-train your content editors and to continue offering expert advice and guidance.  Your contractors can be your ‘Super Users’.

You have the flexibility to increase or reduce the time taken to rebuild all your content by hiring more or less contractors.

Drawbacks

Hiring external contractors with SharePoint 2010 experience will increase the costs of your organisation’s rebuild.  Your content editors will not be so easily able to develop their knowledge by not rebuilding their content and learning from this experience.

It may be difficult to hire the right number of contractors with the skills and experience for the funding you have or within your timeframe.

Contractors have to learn the context and background to why content is published in the way chosen by your organisation.  Your editors may save time not rebuilding their content but they will still need to explain what is needed to be done and why to contractors as well as checking and auditing what has been rebuilt before it can be published.

Summary

By assessing each of these approaches you can help to choose which will best suit what your organisation needs.  You can factor in funding, timescales, editors’ skills and experience, when deciding what to do.

I have been directly involved in several SharePoint 2010 content rebuilds.  If you need any more help please contact me.

…or is this a better way to rebuild SharePoint 2010 content?

In my last post I talked about the first of three approaches to rebuilding your content from your existing publishing tool in to SharePoint 2010.

For each approach it is the conflict between minimising the impact on performance of the business with the cost of extra contractors while retaining the knowledge and experience of using SharePoint 2010.  There isn’t just one answer and it can be a difficult choice to get right.

Blending content editors with contractors

My second approach combines the use of your content editors with external contractors.  Your contractors will have a more extensive role to play than my first approach.  You hire external contractors who have the experience and skills you need to support content editors and can rebuild more complex content more easily or rebuild a large number of content pages more quickly than your content editors.

Wherever possible priority must be given to your editors rebuilding their content with support from contractors with the right expertise to help.  However the option for a contractor to step in and take over is now available with this approach.

Benefits

Combining your own content editors with contractors skilled and experienced with SharePoint 2010 will still enable you to retain the knowledge and skills gained from your editors being trained on how to use SharePoint 2010.  Your editors will use their knowledge of your organisation and the context in which the newly rebuilt pages are developed.

The knowledge gained during the rebuild will be retained and allow content editors to support other existing and new content editors when they are trained.  This approach can also help create ‘Super Users’ who can provide support to other content editors who are trained in future.

Contractors supporting content editors and rebuilding complex and large numbers of content pages will be able to use their SharePoint 2010 expertise and knowledge.

Drawbacks

There is still a risk of disruption to normal business activities if there are many content editors to train and content to be rebuilt.  The ability of editors to become ‘Super Users’ retrain other content editors is more limited as there are less editors who rebuilt content and probably not the more complex content.  The balance of knowledge gained to lost is more balanced with this approach.

You will also need to have extra checks for the content rebuilt by contractors to confirm the right context has been met and it links to other related pages correctly.  This can extend the length of the project.

There is the cost of the contractors to factor in and making sure you train enough content editors with the right skills so that all types of  content are updated and managed correctly after you launch.

In my next post I will cover my final approach to rebuilding your content.